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Ag lender offers lifeline to troubled producers
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Ag lender offers lifeline to troubled producers

COVID crunch

Conterra Ag Capital is a little different than the average ag lender. They deal in unique financial relief in American agriculture.

You could think of them as the Coast Guard of the ag lending industry. They will render assistance to producers when things look bleak and other institutions have written them off.

“Most farm credit is handled by banks and other regulated institutions,” said Paul Erickson, Conterra President and CEO. “If a loan becomes a criticized asset, they have to push out or foreclose.”

The regulated finance system doesn’t assist those farmers. It is a situation that is significantly unique in ag, he said. Regulated lenders cannot re-originate a criticized asset. Producers can be left drowning in a sea of debt. That’s when the sharks – in the form of unrestricted creditors – can start circling.

“I have seen predatory lenders offering up to 35% interest,” Erickson said.

With more than 25 years of experience in ag finance and business development, Erickson has been instrumental in creating Conterra ag real estate lending options to fill voids in the marketplace. He offers a lifeline to those producers.

“Our funds are primarily dedicated to re-financing those troubled loans,” Erickson said. “We can offer an interest-only product to rehab credit; get them back to performing status.”

Farmers are generally land rich and cash poor. Conterra has a full range of lending options from the traditional, or ‘A’ credit borrowers, to alternative lending for those who might be experiencing some stress in their operations.

Cash flows can struggle due to short-term amortizing equipment debt and overflow debt. Things happen, such as death, divorce and drought. Conterra can provide alternatives in times of financial strain.

“Ag is full of volatility,” Erickson said. “It is more difficult than a commercial business, since weather and trade issues have an anomalous impact on the profitability of a farm.”

Founded in 2013, Conterra has its home office in West Des Moines, Iowa. The company has 40 employees serving agriculture through satellite offices and relationship managers nationwide, including: Kansas, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio, Arizona, California and Oregon.

Conterra is solely an agricultural lender. They focus on ag real estate lending, however they are able to work with development and agribusiness as well. The company is driven by Erickson’s view from working in ag financing for three decades.

According to Erickson, the company offers four funds that help high-quality producers. Conterra can handle matters they didn’t originate, as well. If an institutions conveys items to them, he said.

“We want to work with the American farmer,” Erickson said. “We hang with a producer through thick and thin.”

Jon Burleson can be reached at editorial@midwestmessenger.com.  

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Jon Burleson is the Midwest Messenger reporter, based in eastern Nebraska. Reach him at jon.burleson@lee.net.

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