August 18, 2009

Multi-million farm auction shrouded in secrecy

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Shades of the Great Depression. Hey, but the recession is over. Right.

Anyway, the government today will auction off 418 farm loans of failed Greeley, Colorado -based New Frontier Bank. The Internet auction is believed to be the largest sale of farm notes, originally valued at $455 million on the bank’s books,  since the aftermath of the 1980s savings-and-loan crisis, and it has many farmers fearful they will lose their property as a result, reports the Denver Post. Problem is, the process is shrouded in secrecy, and many of the farmers involved don’t even know for sure if their land is being auctioned. And while most are behind on their payments, some are not. The farmers are afraid buyers will snap up the notes cheap, then liquidate the collateral to make a quick profit.

“They (bankers) tend to treat us as if we have a disease,” said Karen Healey, an Eaton cattle farmer who believes her note is being auctioned off but doesn’t know for sure because the FDIC hasn’t notified her. “I’ve been here for 11 years; this is where I want to live and work. But I don’t know if I’ll be able to stay.”

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