Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

State's Farmers in Better Shape Than Neighbors

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

State's Farmers in Better Shape Than Neighbors

Article excerpt

Oklahoma farmers are hurting along with farmers across the country, but not quite as badly, according to a visiting executive from the Fe deral Land Bank in Wichita, which holds more than 46 percent of the agricultural loans in the state.

"Things look a little better in Oklahoma," said Monte Reese, vice president of public affairs, who also offered predictions of worsening conditions if interest rates do not decline.

Like the rest of the country, Oklahoma land values are down and foreclosures are up, but not as precipitously, said Reese, the featured speaker at a luncheon meeting of the Downtown Rotary Club.

Land values have fallen an average of 5 percent in Oklahoma since reaching a high in the late 1970s, said Reese. That compares to 11 percent in Kansas, 20 percent in Missouri, 25 percent in Nebraska and 28 percent in Iowa.

In addition, said Reese, "there haven't been that many foreclosures yet" in the four-state area served by the Federal Land Bank - Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico.

Of the 19,600 farm and ranch loans in Oklahoma, 275 or 1.4 percent are facing foreclosure. That compares to a 1.6 percent rate for the entire four-state area.

The Federal Land Bank is a farmer-owned cooperative that is financed by bond sales and loans made to farmers. It receives no federal funds. The Wichita Bank, with about $5 billion in loans, serves one of 12 districts.

At present, the Land Bank in Wichita owns 21 repossessed pieces of property in Oklahoma, or less than one farm for every three counties. That's not enough property to depress the market, he said.

"And we won't accept an offer for it if it establishes a new market low," Reese said. "Now would be a good time to invest in those farms and others."

Reese noted that an encouraging 94 percent of farmers in Oklahoma are "current" in their payments to the Land Bank.

Oklahoma farmers and ranchers have fared better for three reasons, said Reese. …

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