Wisconsin officials worry farmers may turn to risky lenders

Farm Landscape, Photo Date: 8/2/14 / Source: RichardBH / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin agriculture officials are concerned farmers will be tempted by quick access loans and credit cards as many take on more debt this year.

Frank Friar is an economic development specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Friar tells Wisconsin Public Radio the state agency is worried farmers may turn to predatory lending agencies after years of low crop prices.

The American Farm Bureau Federation warns that farm debt is at a record high, lending standards are tightening and the cost of credit is rising.

Katie Wantoch is an agriculture agent with the University of Wisconsin-Extension. She says farmers in debt may also spend more on their credit cards, which will likely worsen their financial situation.

Wantoch says there may be more fees they didn't anticipate.