2017 First Quarter
Farm income declined in the first quarter of 2017 from a year earlier according to the latest survey of agricultural bankers in the Eighth Federal Reserve District. Proportionately more bankers reported that farm households continued to trim household expenditures and capital spending in the first quarter from a year earlier. Slightly more bankers reported that declines in farm incomes and farm household expenditures in the first quarter exceeded their expectations from three months earlier. Quality farmland and ranchland or pastureland values rose sharply in the first quarter from a year earlier. The increase in quality farmland values in the first quarter was the largest in three and a half years. However, the majority of bankers expect farmland values to decline in the second quarter. Cash rents for quality farmland and ranchland or pastureland declined slightly in the first quarter. Interest rates on fixed-rate loans secured by farm real estate have increased by only 10 basis points over the past four quarters (0.10 percentage points). Results from our special questions suggest that the overall quality of the Eighth District farm loan portfolio remains stable (no significant repayment problems). We also asked our bankers to cite their top concern for 2017. A little less than two-thirds (62 percent) reported that further declines in farm incomes was their number one concern.