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Subcommittee Examines Credit Conditions in Farm Country

Washington, D.C. - Today, Rep. Austin Scott (GA-8), Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit, held a hearing to examine tightening credit conditions in farm country. This is the second in a series of hearings entitled Focus on the Farm Economy, where each subcommittee will examine the growing pressure in rural America from the perspective of the subcommittee. Members heard from a series of witnesses who explained the impact the collapse in net farm income is having on the availability of credit, financial stress on both producers and credit providers, and the value of key producer assets such as land.

“With the strain on our nation’s agriculture economy, it is essential our farmers and ranchers have access to reliable sources of credit at competitive rates. Commercial and community banks, loan programs, and the Farm Credit System each play a critical role in providing that access. Low commodity prices and the resulting 56 percent collapse in net farm income over the past three years have led to the uncertain lending environment that we are seeing throughout the country, including in my home state of Georgia, and right now, this uncertainty is most apparent in the cotton belt. Today’s hearing further emphasized that a strong farm safety net is essential for our farmers and ranchers to secure financing so they can continue feeding and clothing our nation,” said Subcommittee Chairman Austin Scott.

“As we continue our review of the status of the farm economy, we are seeing a growing number of comparisons to the farming crisis of the 1980s, where land values collapsed, input costs were high, and access to credit was limited. While we are not yet to that point, as the witnesses reiterated today, several indicators are suggesting that difficult times lie ahead.  Regardless, we can work to prevent the devastation of the 1980s from happening again, in part by working to maintain strong farm policy that underpins the farm economy,” said Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway.