A new wave of farm foreclosures may be breaking in Iowa. Iowa law requires all pending farm foreclosures to go through mediation, and the state-designated agency for handling those sessions for farmers and bankers is known as the Iowa Mediation Service, where Michael Thompson’s been the manager for 17 years. Thompson says in January, his agency logged 65 new cases of pending foreclosures and forfeitures, the norm the last few years has been 50. There was a 30 percent increase in cases last month, and Thompson says just last week they had another “pretty significant” increase — 20 cases in one week. Thompson says there aren’t many small farmers left and the cases are the medium sized farmers. Thompson says while land prices are great, farmers aren’t able to “cash flow” as crop and livestock prices are low. Many farmers on the bubble are being denied operating loans, which means no crop will be planted this spring and the farm will go under. Thompson says there’s great uncertainty about the outcome of the Farm Bill. Thompson says as a result, the banking community is getting nervous about farm loans. Tomorrow, in the third part of this series on farm foreclosures, we’ll hear from an Iowa farm couple who’s facing a financial crisis.
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