The White House, concerned about a sudden dearth of farm credit that threatens spring planting, called an emergency meeting yesterday to review the situation, but apparently decided there was little more that Washington could do.
In an hour-long meeting called by Vice President Mondale, top presidential economic and agricultural advisers heard status reports on various loan programs the government has recently put into effect.
However, sources said later there were no new proposals on how the administration might further ease the squeeze on farmer's borrowings and none is considered likely. Officials indicated only that they would continue to monitor the situation.
Portions of Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and northeastern Iowa are affected by the credit squeeze. In many areas, farmers cannot obtain loans for seed and fertilizer.
The crunch has occurred despite pleas from the Federal Reserve Board for banks to keep lines of credit open to other financial institutions and small businesses, even in the face of government credit-tightening.
Administration officials say the government has taken some steps that are likely to ease the situation. A week ago, President Carter signed a bill providing for $1 billion in federal farm loans. And the United States has purchased wheat and corn from farmers.
Carter is also expected to sign a bill now before Congress that would allow farmers who missed out on earlier corn reserve programs to participate now.
Yesterday, Fed officials met with leaders of 15 national and regional farm organizations to talk over the credit drought, but they apparently reached no agreement.
Reuben Johnson, Washington lobbyist for the National Farmers Union, said later that Fed Chairman Paul A. Volcker declined to use authority in a 1969 credit control law to order banks to make loans available to farmers.
"From my vantage point, I didn't see any ray of hope or any kind of change coming out of the Fed that is going to solve our problem," Johnson said. "When Volcker [dismissed] the credit control act . . . I got up and walked out."
Farm economists say the credit squeeze stems from a variety of factors, including high loan-to-deposit ratios in the rural banks, depressed commodity prices, and losses stemming from transportation tie-ups last autumn.