Valley Farmers Face Financial Uncertainty

Fresno, CA, USA They've dealt with rising fuel and fertilizer prices. They constantly deal with the elements. Farmers say the credit crunch is just another hurdle. But not all banks are affected the same way.

Sometimes Will Scott, Jr. Personally delivers the produce he grows. Word travels quickly for those looking for specialized crops like black-eyed peas. But Scott says it's been difficult to secure a bank loan he needs to prepare his fields for the next growing season. Scott said, "I'm in a waiting stage and I think it has to do if the banks recover and if they can get back in the business of loaning to people to help the economy out."

Scott even shells his black-eyed peas and sells them in one-pound bags. He says small farmers are getting lost in the credit shuffle.

"The emphasis is on helping the big guy. To me I guess I'm opposed to that trickledown theory. My father always told me you give money to the little guy the big guy's gonna have it by sundown anyway," said Scott.

Fresno Madera Farm Credit specializes in Ag loans.

Tom Brown the Fresno Madera Farm Credit CEO said, "This business in California is very financially intensive. Allot of money advanced."

CEO Tom Brown says the Wall Street meltdown has not had a major affect on his customers. Many though have called to see if their credit is still good.

"What we've been telling them is we have about a billion dollars in loan committments to valley agriculture and we're one of the strongest capitalized associations in the nation."

Banks don't want to leave farmers high and dry but in some cases, water studies must be done before credit can be extended.

"On a new loan we're of course concerned and make sure there is adequate water. Even our existing borrowers next year, if we don't get rain, are going to be looking at some reductions in planting."

Brown says at his bank most farmers establish lines of credit, not individual loans, to get them through the year.


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