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Farmers concerned about Ag credit crunch

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

January 14, 2009

TERRELL CO., GA (WALB) - The national banking and credit crisis has some South Georgia farmers concerned about this year's crops.

Most farmers borrow millions of dollars from banks and lending associations to finance their yearly planting.

But some banks have said they will not be making agricultural loans in these tough times, and farmers are now wondering if they will have the money to plant crops.

Board members of the Georgia Peanut Commission have heard South Georgia farmers are worried.

"Yes, I've heard some banks say they are going to tighten up on their lending this year. I've heard some say they were not going to make any agricultural loans," said Peanut Farmer and Commission Treasurer Rodney Dawson. 

There are no answers in this credit crisis, leaving South Georgia farmers concerned.

   "Everything is changing. There is a lot of uncertainty out there," said Peanut Farmer Armond Morris.

So uncertain that some farmers are talking about sitting out the season.

"I've heard a lot of farmers make the comment, if I am going to lose money, I'd just sit in the house," Dawson said.

These farms leaders say they know banks with tightened lending demands are going to want assurances of a profit. But there is no guarantee what fuel, fertilizer, or seed prices will be this spring, and the commodity prices right now will not produce that profit.

 "If we look at the production of peanuts last year, and the talk of what the prices could be for the '09 crop. It would be hard pressed to show a profit there," Morris said.

Farming is the leading industry in Georgia, and these agricultural leaders know the credit crisis could be a big key in the state's economic future, especially in small South Georgia towns.

 "It's going to be really devastating to see if something doesn't ease up in the credit crunch," Dawson said.

Those agricultural loans will be one of the topics of discussion at the Georgia Peanut Farm Show Thursday at the Albany Civic Center.

Georgia Peanut Commission Board Members say many farmers are already having to stretch out their debt over several years already to pay for equipment, so small marginal farm operations will be the most in danger during this credit crisis.

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