Farm debt continues to edge upward as expanding production
and capital expenditures add to the loan demand
facing farm lenders. Final tallies for 1996 are not yet
complete. However, reports from three of the main
lending institutions that serve farmers—banks, the Farm
Credit System and life insurance companies—provide
considerable insight on a large share of total farm debt.
Those reports, coupled with earlier USDA projections
for other lenders, suggest that farm debt approximated
$156.2 billion at the end of 1996, up 3.6 percent from the
year before. Of the total, about $81.7 billion was secured
by farm real estate, while the remaining $74.5 billion
constituted the so-called nonreal estate (or all other)
farm debt. For the fourth consecutive year, the relative
(percentage) rise in nonreal estate farm debt last year
slightly exceeded that for farm real estate debt.