Farm debt data and covid

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Question: 

My name is Tracy Bergmann, I am the Chief Examiner for the Iowa Division of Banking. We supervise Iowa state chartered banks in Iowa. We continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on the institutions we regulate, their customers, and the customers they serve. Agriculture has been on our radar for sometime now, but we are trying to get more detailed data on how much agricultural debt is in Iowa, specifically what is the breakdown between Ag Operating, Livestock debt, Term debt, and Real Estate debt.

We traditionally get our data from two sources: 1) call report filed by banks quarterly which does not go into enough detail to get the information that we want; and 2) the banks themselves when we conduct an examination. Banks generally have concentration reports that will break down debt on many different levels; however, this doesn't give us aggregated point in time data.

I have been looking at the ISU, Ohio State University, and USDA websites in an attempt to get the data we are looking for, but cannot find it. I find news reports or research that mentions these sources, but I can't get to the raw data we are looking for. When I do find data that is close to what we want, it is a couple years old.

Do you have any suggestions on where we can find this data? We appreciate any assistance you are able to give, as we monitor the impact of COVID-19, particularly in the ag sector. Thank you!

Tracy Bergmann

Answer: 

The most relevant reports to track the evolution of the financial situation of well-managed mid-size commercial farms in Iowa are:

  1. “Financial Performance Measures for Iowa Farms” Dec 2019. https://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/wholefarm/html/c3-55.html
  2. “Iowa Farm Costs and Returns” Nov 2019. https://www.extension.iastate.edu/agdm/wholefarm/html/c1-10.html

Other relevant related articles published by ISUEO in recent years include:

However, as you indicate in your message, all reports use data form years prior to that of publication. The reason for such limitation resides in the data collection process: ISUEO receives anonymized farm-level financial data collected by the Iowa Farm Business Association from its members over multiple interviews throughout the year and compiled and vetted for quality after income tax season. The only alternative data source for farm financial data in the state of Iowa is the Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS) Farm Financial and Crop Production Practices, conducted by the USDA every other year.

ISUEO is grateful to the Iowa Farm Business Association for its cooperation, and for allowing the use of aggregated and anonymized data to inform farmers, lenders, regulators, policy makers, and the general public about the financial situation of well-managed mid-size commercial farms in Iowa. We look forward to updating the reports cited above with 2019 data soon.

Answered by:
Dr. Alejandro Plastina
Assistant Professor
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Last updated on May 11, 2020