ABA and other industry groups met with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Farm Service Agency yesterday to discuss ways to support the credit needs of new farmers and ranchers. Representing ABA at the meeting were Heather Malcolm, VP, Bank of the Rockies, Livingston, Montana; Dinese Watson, VP, Merchants Bank of Indiana, Lynn, Indiana; and Caleb Hopkins, chief lending officer, Westside State Bank, Halbur, Iowa. The bankers participated in a panel discussion on the challenges of serving beginning farmers and ranchers and shared some of the best practices they have learned.
During the event, the groups agreed to establish a process for agricultural lenders and FSA to communicate when challenges arise in financing beginning farmers; to engage agricultural lenders and FSA staff in loan-making training sessions and farm loan conferences; and to develop working groups of lenders and FSA staff to share best practices and overcome challenges.
USDA said it wants to leverage its farm loan programs, direct loans, and loan guarantee programs to more effectively benefit farmers and ranchers just starting out, noting that “these producers have unique financing needs as they strive to start, develop, and grow their operations.”