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Is your farm building financial liquidity and cash?

David Kohl, Contributing Writer, Corn+Soybean Digest

April 13, 2023

3 Min Read
The ripple effect from the bank failures could be felt by the agriculture lenders. Getty Images

Many of you have been reaching out to ask my opinion on the recent bank failures and whether you should be concerned. As of the date of this article, the troubled banks are regional by nature in the U.S. and one large European bank. The word interconnectivity is very appropriate when discussing this banking crisis in 2023. The assets and liabilities are interwoven into many of the financial institutions and economic sectors here in the United States and around the world, creating the proverbial ripple effect.

The crisis

The troubled financial institutions are saddled with investments and bonds, many of which did not have hedges or options on these investments. As the Federal Reserve dramatically increased interest rates, the value of these instruments was reduced. This placed these institutions into a liquidity crunch, particularly as depositors with balances above the $250,000 FDIC insurance limit withdrew monies.

One could see this coming as the cryptocurrency and technology sectors, that were once hot, have recently crashed. There is an old saying that if it grows too fast it is a weed! The cryptocurrency, technology, and green energy markets were supposed to be the “next big thing,” accelerated by the media and the internet. Early investors did quite well if they sold their assets. Other investors that were followers failed to heed warnings of other bubbles that go way back to the tulip industry bubble centuries ago.

The troubled banks also financed many startups in the technology sector. Many of these businesses are struggling financially, which only adds to the bank’s portfolio risk. Fraudulent activities in the cryptocurrency market were ahead of the regulators. This convergence of events is creating the crisis. Take note that all of the stressed institutions have a financial liquidity issue. I have discussed in this column and at the Farm Futures Business Summit the importance of building financial liquidity and cash. Over the next few months, it will be interesting to see how the government regulators and the financial markets react. Could this be something bigger or just a proverbial bump in the road?

Ripples to agriculture

These bank failures can ripple to the agriculture industry, depending on the extent and duration. Expect the beehive of regulators to be stirred up, looking for potential cracks in otherwise solid agricultural credit portfolios. This means that lending institutions will have to step up the amount and detail of financial information in their loan files for internal loan reviews and external reviews by state and federal regulators.

Remember, in many cases, this will be a “green” set of lenders and regulators getting their first taste of financial adversity without government intervention or government bailouts.

How can you prepare?

  • Build your financial liquidity reserves with internal working capital as a buffer in case a commodity or segment was to financially meltdown.

  • Have a risk management plan in place with appropriate insurance coverages and contracts that are proactive and documented.

  • Maintain open communications with your advisory team and lender as this adversity evolves.

We have seen bank failures before and a downturn or a recession will only magnify the outcomes. Stay tuned!

About the Author(s)

David Kohl

Contributing Writer, Corn+Soybean Digest

Dr. Dave Kohl is an academic Hall of Famer in the College of Agriculture at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Va. Dr. Kohl has keen insight into the agriculture industry gained through extensive travel, research, and involvement in ag businesses. He has traveled over 10 million miles; conducted more than 7,000 presentations; and published more than 2,500 articles in his career. Dr. Kohl’s wisdom and engagement with all levels of the industry provide a unique perspective into future trends.

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