With 2,000 of the nation's 3,300 counties declared disaster areas by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Farm Credit Administration Board is urging member banks to work with affected customers.

Farm credit institutions are encouraged to extend the terms of loan repayment, restructure borrowers' debt obligations, and ease some loan documentation or credit-extension terms for certain borrowers. Though recent commodity price reports for agricultural products have not been favorable, FCA Board Chairman Marsha Pyle Martin said the Farm Credit System is not in jeopardy. But the harsh conditions that have struck many parts of the country will make it even harder for many farmers to make loan payments.

"While the overall health of the system remains sound," she said, weather-related disasters add stress that could affect "the repayment capacity of borrowers in certain sectors."

Ms. Martin also encouraged member institutions to ask local USDA offices about farm aid programs so that lenders' employees can help customers find aid.

- Louis Whiteman

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