The jump in commodity prices last year improved the financial health of U.S. farmers, sending Midwest cropland to record values and boosting profits for rural banks and equipment makers, a Federal Reserve report concluded.
When regulators come knocking at the Bank of Newman Grove, Nebraska, inquiring about loan risks, Chairman Jeffrey Gerhart has a “stress test” ready to show how his portfolio would fare if rural land prices dropped 25 percent. Or 50 percent. Or 75 percent.
A drought that devastated crops in the southern Great Plains during the second quarter slowed the growth of land values, eroded agricultural income and led to fewer purchases of farm equipment, the Federal Reserve said.
Record U.S. agricultural exports are providing an unexpected boost to President Barack Obama ’s target of doubling overseas sales by 2015 and driving earnings for Agco Corp., CF Industries Holdings Inc. and Cargill Inc.