ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Early in 2020, farmers were down in the dumps about the farm economy. Prices were low and prospects for recovery were grim. But a new day has dawned for agriculture.
Farm Credit of Illinois has $4.3 billion dollars in loans to 8,700 farmers and agribusinesses in the lower 66 counties of Illinois. While that is a lot of money at risk, President and CEO Aaron Johnson says the turnaround in the ag economy in the past year has been noteworthy.
“Everything has changed since last year,” he says. “We went into last summer and last fall thinking it was going to be a tough time on the farm. Margins were tight. Commodity prices were down. The pandemic was going on and we didn’t know what kind of impact that would be and trade issues.
“As we got into fall we got prices of corn and soybeans going up and the trade issues somewhat behind us and it started being very positive in the export end of the business. Everything changed. We went into the winter with our members being about as financially strong as they’ve been since 2014. Delinquency rates really way down and farmers were in a very good financial position coming into 2021.
“Now in 2021, interest rates are still low, commodity prices have held. They are a little volatile now, up and down, but they are still very strong. So we are looking forward to a good year in 2021. We do believe we are going to see input costs continue to rise, probably eat into our margin a little bit as we go into winter and then head into 2022. But, right now in central and southern Illinois, it’s a good time to be in the agricultural business.”
Aaron Johnson says Farm Credit is watching closely what the Fed will say this afternoon about the potential for inflation and its timetable to address that.