At a time of relative affluence in the farming industry, the FDIC has issued a warning on a need for monitoring agricultural credits. FIL-39-2014 (July 16, 2014) suggests that banking institutions of all sizes should carefully consider a recent, negative projection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
While current market conditions are good, the projection suggests there will be a slowdown in the growth of the farming and livestock sectors and that agriculture may be affected by adverse weather and declining land values, among other factors.
The guidance suggests that financial institutions should work carefully with agricultural borrowers when they experience financial difficulties. The guidance states that the FDIC’s supervisory expectations previously expressed in a 2010 financial institution letter continue (although the letter is rescinded in light of the current letter).
Cash flow analysis, secondary repayment sources and collateral support levels must be considered in order to properly analyze agricultural credits, according to the guidance.
The guidance notes that smaller farms and ranches rely on the personal wealth and resources of the owners, including off-farm wages. A universal review of the financial strength of the credit is required.
The guidance also notes workout strategies must be specifically tailored for agricultural credits in light of experience in the 1980’s with depreciating farm land values, among other factors. The guidance suggests that properly restructured loans to farming operations with a documented ability to repay under the modified terms will not be subject to adverse classification because the value of the underlying collateral has declined.