Weekly Column

Corporate farming notes: increased FSA loan limits benefit large operations

Even though farming has become increasingly expensive, from land value to input costs, some farm groups have demanded an increase in Farm Service Agency (FSA) loan limits. Recent farm bill proposals from Congress responded to those demands. However, nearsightedness regarding farm loans can cause more harm than good, as there are pitfalls. These may severely impact those who need FSA farm loans the most: our beginning and historically underserved farmers and ranchers.

Are property values affected by wind farms?

Wind energy has paid off for rural areas. Whether it be new employment opportunities, additional revenue for counties, or direct payments to landowners, rural communities have received significant benefits.

However, any kind of new development comes with concerns. One frequent concern voiced by local residents is what effect a wind farm may have on property values. Several studies have examined how wind farms may affect property values.

We surveyed farmers: conservation is important

Many farmers and ranchers value the opportunity the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) offers to enhance their existing conservation efforts, according to a survey we completed last year. Eighty-seven percent of respondents, all living in an area with a strong agricultural presence, stated CSP should be supported as a priority in the farm bill.

Where have all the bankers gone?

The Center for Rural Affairs first examined consolidation in the banking industry in “Where Have All the Bankers Gone?”, a 1978 report. We have long understood the critical link between credit, who has access, who doesn’t, and how it shapes communities.

That’s why a recent report in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye. It detailed how banking in rural communities has fared in the years since the financial crisis. Small business lending in rural areas has dropped by half since 2004, accounting for less than 10 percent of total small business lending.

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