The government said Monday that banks and thrifts extended $170 billion of small-business and farm loans last year, an 8.3% increase from 1996.

In all, 1,896 banks and savings associations made 2.8 million small- business and farm loans last year. By contrast, 2,078 institutions had made 2.6 million small-business and farm loans worth $157 billion in 1996.

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