Metlifes agricultural loans fall to $32 billion in

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MetLife Inc's (MET. N) agricultural loans totaled $3.2 billion in 2015, down from a record $3.6 billion in 2014 as commodity prices hit a five-year low and a drought gripped California, the company said in a statement on Monday. One of the biggest agricultural mortgage lenders in North America, MetLife's overall loan portfolio hit a record $13.2 billion as of Sept. 30, 2015. Rural incomes in the United States have tumbled as farmers deal with the lowest grains prices in at least five years. California is suffering a catastrophic drought that has lasted four years and cut agricultural output.

MetLife's agriculture portfolio consists of mortgages for farms, ranches, food production and other agriculture businesses. The lender said the average loan-to-value ratio of its overall agricultural mortgage portfolio was 43 percent last year, down slightly from 44 percent in 2014.

MetLife expects its agricultural lending to grow in 2016 with opportunities in the United States and abroad, Barry Bogseth, managing director and head of MetLife's agricultural portfolio unit, said in the statement.

MetLife is also the largest U.S. life insurer and is planning to spin off part of its retail business from the core company.