Some 1,800 Idaho farmers - about 250 in southeastern Idaho - are awaiting loan-delinquency notices from the Farmers Home Administration with some apprehension.
But delinquency letters due soon "are not going to come as a shock" to farmers, said Merrill Cornelius, Oneida County FmHA supervisor. "They're looking forward to them. This allows us to make some adjustments" on loans, said Cornelius.The notices are part of an FmHA program designed to ease farmers' loan repayments. Once borrowers receive the notices, they have 45 days to contact county FmHA offices to discuss repayment.
"I don't think it's going to be a panacea, but it does have some real positive things," said Brad McMurtrey, Bingham County FmHA supervisor. The program grew from the 1987 farm-credit bill. The program began recently, after nearly 18 months of drafting and editing program regulations.
Since FmHA is the only federal agency that loans money to farmers, people are either quick to criticize or quick to applaud new ideas for easing loan repayments, Bill Norberg, Idaho FmHA director, said.
"The farm question has always been kind of a motherhood question - farming, apple pie . . . " he said. "Politicians always have had fun playing with farm programs."
Nationally, farmers will receive some 83,000 delinquency notices, which were misunderstood by some people to be foreclosure notices.
The misunderstanding has had national media exposure, which has "blown the issue out of proportion," according to Galen Gneiting, Caribou County FmHA supervisor.
"To me, this is the best thing coming up," he said. "There's going to be some negative things to certain people, but I think generally it's good to most people.
"There's just no way to protect everybody 100 percent of the time."
Todd Tueller, Franklin County FmHA supervisor, said two farmers have already filled out program forms and several others are interested.
In Bannock and Power counties, however, response has been poor, according to Supervisor Wayne Marshall. Only four borrowers showed up at a recent meeting explaining the program.
Blackfoot's McMurtrey said he expects about 60 to 70 percent of Bingham County delinquent borrowers to respond in the 45-day period. The majority of those not responding, he said, have already left agriculture and changed careers.
Of the 222 Bingham County borrowers, 75 will receive notices. In Bannock and Power counties, 52 of about 100 borrowers will be involved.
District 4 borrowers, whose loans total $101.8 million, have $25.7 million listed as delinquent. The state delinquency figure is more than $175 million.