Friday, August 26, 2005
A lender who refused to give a cash-strapped farm family an extension of time to get the harvest in before it foreclosed wasn't guilty of bad faith, according to a recent decision by the South Dakota Supreme Court.
According to the Sioux City Journal, the plaintiffs inherited the farm, which came with more than $700,000 in debt. They borrowed money from the lender, Farm Credit Services of America, to help them stay afloat. Following a drought and the crash in farm prices that followed the 9/11 attacks, the family asked for a extensions; the lender offered two months but refused to allow them as much time as they needed. Subsequently, when the farmers didn't pay, the lender foreclosed.
The farmers claimed that if they had been given a little more time, they would have been able to harvest their wheat and sell 100 horses at a fall sale, and it was bad faith for the lender to refuse to grant them an extension. But the court rejected that argument, noting that the lender was simply enforcing the agreed-upon provisions and there was no contractual right to more time. "Good faith and fair dealing," said the court, "ensures that contracting parties get the full benefit of their bargain, but no more."