Frustrated farmers tell Ag Secretary Vilsack they need help now
While farmers and ranchers are pleased by new federal credit options, many are anxious to know if it will come in time because they can’t get their loans, originated at a now-closed Greeley bank, secured at other credit-squeezed banks.
One Morgan County farmer broke down in tears as he spoke to Colorado’s Congressional delegation at the Morgan County Fairgrounds in Brush Monday morning. He said he’s under a 30-day window to find financing for his cattle and farm operation through another lender or face liquidation.
“We don’t have another 30-days to make that happen,” Gary Teague said. “We have to get that seed in the ground or we don’t have a corn crop this summer.”
The ripple effect of the closure of New Frontier Bank was on full display as more than 100 farmers crowded into the 4-H building to hear the credit announcement by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, along with Gov. Bill Ritter, U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet and Rep. Betsy Markey.
Vilsack last week authorized the transfer of unused Farm Service Agency subsidized guaranteed operating loan funds to the agency’s direct operating loan program, as the Colorado lawmakers had pushed in a letter they sent to Vilsack.
The transfer will provide an additional $110 million of direct operating loan funds and $143 million of unsubsidized guaranteed operating loan funds.
The most emotional question in the 90-minute forum came from Teague, whose remarks drew a standing ovation from frustrated farmers.
Teague told Vilsack the farmers like himself don’t need a bailout ” he’s current on his loan payments on his $50 million annual operation that employs 155 people in Weld and Morgan counties ” but he needs assurance he can quickly secure credit through another bank. He said the FDIC, which has closed down New Frontier, has told him he must get new financing within 30 days.
“I just need someone to slow the process down so I can move my loan to another bank,” Teague said.
Vilsack said FSA will provide additional personnel to northeastern Colorado to ensure loan applications are processed quickly. He said he would talk with the FDIC chairman today to see if there’s a way to give farmers and ranchers more time to secure financing for loans left in limbo by the New Frontier closure.
Another farmer said many in the room are family farmers who have smaller operations than Teague but likewise have been making payments and are current on their loans. They are also looking for answers, he said.
“We will do everything we can do to carry back (to Washington) the message we’re hearing today,” Bennet said. “Whatever is possible, we will get them to do.”
Read more about the farm forum in Tuesday’s Greeley Tribune at http://www.greeleytribune.com.
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