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Source: AgriBank news release

A new poll of senior leaders from Midwest Farm Credit lenders shows commodity prices as the greatest challenge facing their customers. Farm Credit lenders are responding to this by providing services to restructure the financial situations of their customers. In addition, in a new AgriThought report, Jerry Lehnertz, senior vice president of Credit at AgriBank, examines the challenging farm economy and how lenders are helping farmers navigate it.

The poll's results showed that 69.1 percent of senior credit and risk officers from the 17 Farm Credit Associations in the AgriBank District selected commodity prices as the top challenge. The next biggest challenges were input costs, credit availability and adverse weather effects.

When asked about the support they are providing to help farmers face these challenges, 86.7 percent said rebalancing borrower debt to bolster working capital and/or reduce principal payment requirements and 73.3 percent said refinancing credit to take advantage of current interest rates.

Both answers reflect the changing financial landscape for commodity prices and how lenders are working with customers to help them maintain their financial health. Other responses included consulting on crop insurance and other risk management solutions (80 percent), counseling regarding future operating plans (63.3 percent), and marketing and hedging strategies (50 percent).

The Q&A report with Lehnertz provides a mid-year outlook for the ag economy. He discusses what effects the changing economy is having on farmers and what lenders are doing to help them cope with it.

"The focus has been on commodity prices-in the minds of many producers, if the price of corn were $4.50 per bushel vs. $3.50 per bushel, a lot of problems would be solved," Lehnertz said. "However, hope-thinking that things might be better next year-is not a plan. Farmers and lenders need to work together to take proactive steps to succeed through today's environment."

Both the poll, which was conducted the week of July 11, and report will be unveiled today at Ag Media Summit in St. Louis. Lehnertz will be available to talk to reporters on Monday and Tuesday of the event. He will be at booth 38 at the InfoExpo.

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