Strong Farm Economy Supports Ag Credit Conditions

Farm income and credit conditions in the Federal Reserve’s Tenth District remained strong through the first half of 2021.

Alongside a sharp turnaround in agricultural economic conditions and lasting support from government programs related to pandemic relief, farm income and loan repayment rates both increased from a year ago‑‑at the fastest pace on record. The improvement in farm finances eased credit issues and contributed to softer demand for farm loans. With support from a strong farm economy and historically low interest rates, farm real estate values rose 10% from a year ago, which was the largest increase since 2013.

The outlook for profit opportunities in 2021 remained strong for most agricultural producers as commodity prices remained well above recent years. Conditions in the cattle industry remained somewhat weaker, however, and drought continued to hinder conditions for farmers and ranchers in some areas of the District. Nearly all banks reported that production expenses for both crop and livestock producers increased and cash rental rates in the District also increased, which could pressure margins going forward. Despite potential headwinds, bankers indicated they expected improvement in farm income and credit conditions to continue in the months ahead.

Strong prices for key agricultural commodities brought additional support to farm income in the Tenth District in the second quarter. Alongside multiyear highs in farm commodity prices, about 80% of bankers surveyed in June reported that farm income was higher than the previous year. Bankers’ optimism about farm income was greater than the previous quarter and corresponded with the strongest year-to-year turnaround in farm income since the survey began collecting that information in 2002.

Source: Kansas City Federal Reserve