Is a new wave of farm foreclosures beginning in Iowa? The manager of a counseling service used by farmers sees some troubling trends. Margaret Van Ginkle manages the Iowa Rural Concerns Hotline, a toll-free hotline which offers counseling and referrals for rural Iowans who’re encountering tough times. Van Ginkle says the volume of their calls has risen dramatically. The service logged about 900 calls in January — up nearly 25 percent from December. Van Ginkle says the farmers who’re telling her agency about their problems have mid-sized businesses, between 500 and 1000 acres of land, and they’re dealing with some hard questions. The farmers’ bankers are denying them operating loans to buy fertilizer, fuel and seeds for spring planting. That’s just about a death knell for a farm, as no crop will be harvested in the fall and farmers will find it tough if not impossible to pay the mortgages on their land and equipment. Van Ginkle says last Monday, one of her operators talked for an hour with a farmer who was facing a crucial meeting with his banker. Van Ginkle’s service tries to connect farm folks with free counseling. The Iowa Rural Concerns Hotline number is 1-800-447-1985.
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