ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Low commodity prices are causing financial pain on Minnesota farms, but bankruptcies are rare thanks in part to a state mediation program.
Minnesota Public Radio reports the farmer-lender program requires lenders to offer struggling farmers the chance to renegotiate debt terms with the help of a mediator before repossessing any property.
The program began during the 1980s, when low crop prices, high interest rates and plunging land values sent thousands of farmers into financial collapse.
The program has helped farmers like Jessica and Chad Hofschulte. Their southeast Minnesota farm had a poor crop in 2011, after a fertilizer company they paid didn’t deliver its services.
The Hofschultes accepted mediation when the bank threatened to foreclose. It gave them time to find a new bank, get a federal loan guarantee and make a plan to keep farming.