Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Things Are Not Good In Farm Country: Farmland Rent Payments

Back at the 2012 peak of the last agricultural commodity run I was thinking of the boom-bust cycle in "The Anatomy of a Credit Crisis: The Boom and Bust in Farm Land Prices in the United States in the 1920s".

Today, a serious piece from the Des Moines Register:

Cash-strapped farmers struggle to pay cropland rents
Faced with declining profits, some Iowa farmers are defaulting on cropland rents — a largely unheard of move given the intense competition for the state's fertile farmland and a sign that financial pressure and debt are mounting.

With farm real estate debt across the United States at its highest levels since the farm crisis years of the early '80s, farmers are increasingly nervous about trying to turn a profit while paying sky-high rents.

As a result, more growers are severing ties on rented land that some have farmed for decades — and they're doing it with the spring planting season nearly upon them.

Most farmland rent payments were due March 1, with spring planting typically starting in mid-April.
"We had someone call today and say 'Don't cash that check right away,'" said Mark Gannon, owner of Gannon Real Estate & Consulting in Des Moines, on March 1. "Another farmer called, wanting to renegotiate their lease. … There's some stress out there."

Farmers tell managers and landowners that bankers are tightening credit, with growing losses and dwindling reserves built up during farming's boom driving lending decisions, experts say.
"Some farmers went in to renew their line of credit and found out that the bank wouldn't extend credit to them," said Steve Bruere, president of Peoples Co., a Clive land broker and farm management company. "Producers are coming back and saying the cash flows just don't work."

U.S. farm income in 2016 is projected to fall for the third year in a row, with farmers squeezed between tumbling corn and soybean prices and stubbornly high costs for land, seed, fertilizer and other inputs needed to grow a crop, experts say.

Grain prices have sunk 50 percent or more since 2012, when drought drove prices to record highs.
"Last year was a tough year, and this year will be another tough year," Bruere said. "If you have the ability to withstand losing money, the banks will work with you.

"But if you don't, they're starting to come down on some folks."

HT: AgWeb

By 2013 it was:

Deflation: Corn Closes Down 12¢ to $4.67

Agrimoney says that is the lowest close since November 2010. Bloomberg says Oct. 1, '10.

The Great Depression started in rural America 10 years before it consumed the entire country. The first signs of the coming deflation were in agricultural commodities (real [2010] dollars) 1920 to 1930:

This morning corn is trading at $3.67, down a penny-and-a-half on the session and 21% lower than the day we posted the above.