Farm Debt Leaves Farmers Few Options

It is a tough time for farmers, as debts are highs and crop prices are low and many farmers are facing bankruptcy or finding it tough to get loans.

Bankers and Farm Credit Services of America are the traditional go-to for farm loans. Both are highly regulated, so there comes a point where they can't lend any more.

But a private company, Chicago Capital Holdings wants to offer a new product. It says the current economic climate makes it difficult for farmers facing losses in highly leveraged situations. And they can loan between $500,000 and $5 million, with interest rates of 7 to 9 percent for up to 3 years, to a maximum of 65 percent loan to value.

Because farm real estate values are 83 percent of farm sector assets but real estate debt is only 62 percent of total farm debt. Farmers sometimes need to leverage their land to stay afloat.

David Onion is the CEO of Chicago Capital Holdings. He's from a fourth generation farm family and says they created their bridge loan product to help farmers trying to liquidate in difficult situations or who are working through a cash flow trough.

Onion says because they are a private company they can deal with each farmer situation differently, "You know, we have a great deal of flexibility in how we can do things. We can make direct loans or we can structure sale-leaseback transactions. Wait till that future buyback provision. So that allows us to really tailor our financing to the situation."

Onion adds his company has just added the product to market for farmers in much of the Midwest including Iowa.

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