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Monsanto Says Farmers Have Plenty of Access to Credit

The credit squeeze isn't putting American farmers in any immediate danger, and despite volatile pricing, demand for crops should hold steady, executives from Monsanto said today as the company released its third-quarter results.

monsantologoMonsanto is the world's largest producer of cropseed. CEO Hugh Grant told analysts on Wednesday that, although grain markets are in turmoil, rising consumption of meat in Asia and elsewhere likely will ensure steadily rising demand for feedgrain.

Meanwhile, farmers should be rejoicing that they don't rely very much on big U.S. banks that have mismanaged themselves into near-ruin. Most farmers take loans from regional and local banks, from the government, and from vendors (such as Monsanto).

Regional and local banks are still generally doing OK, though Monsanto executives didn't mention that if credit markets go into freefall â€" something that seems more possible with each passing day â€" smaller banks won't be spared.

The U.S. Farm Credit System was recently recapitalized, and so is safe for a while.

And Monsanto itself says it is not having trouble maintaining its own financing programs, which Terry Crews, the company's chief financial officer, said are "conservative."

Loans from all sources are being made even now for next year's planting season, Crews said. In key Latin American markets such as Brazil and Argentina, the situation is much the same, he added.

The company reported a loss of $172 million, a narrowing from the same period last year. Revenue was up by more than a third.

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