North Dakota banker Ron Strand says he is part lender, part financial adviser, and part emotional supporter to farm customers who are suffering through their worst financial crunch since the mid-1980s.

But thanks to steady farmland values, he hasn't added another title: forecloser. "For the most part, amazingly, land values seem to be holding," said Mr. Strand, vice chairman of financial services at $6 billion-asset Community First Bankshares Inc. in Fargo. "How long that will continue with the prolonged depressed commodity prices is anybody's guess. But the fact that they are at least stable provides some comfort level to the borrower and the banker."

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