Ag Lending with Farmers in Mind

Agriculture

How often do you think about the food on the table? Not just how tasty it is, but the work that truly goes into producing your favorite meal. Spoiler alert! It takes the hard work and dedication of a team of people ranging from the tireless farmer to the expert lending officer to help make that delicious meal happen.

 

What is ag lending?
Larry Stenger, Sr. Vice President and Chief Ag Lender, explains, “Agricultural lending is the financing farmers need for grain production, equipment ownership, landownership, and all of the various needs for an ag business relationship—such as operating loans, equipment financing, hedging loans, grain bin loans, tiling loans, land loans, and inventory loans.”

 

What types of ag financing are available?
First Mid offers a variety of lending options to meet the needs of the customer. Traditional in-house loans include operating loans, intermediate term loans and real estate loans. First Mid also partners with the following agencies for more unique financing solutions:

  • Loan guarantees through USDA – Farm Service Agency (FSA)
  • Beginning Farmer Loans through Illinois Finance Authority (IFA)
  • Long-term fixed-rate land loans through Farmer Mac

 

Why is ag financing approached differently than other business loans?
An ag loan has a cycle, from planning, planting and production to harvest, marketing and selling. From the beginning of that loan to the end could be 18 – 24 months.  Because of this, managing ag loans is a longer process and obviously different from traditional business financing.

 

How early should I start an ag loan application, if I need to reach a certain deadline?
Julie Huelsmann, Commercial Loan Officer at First Mid, explains, “Real estate loan requests should be started as soon as possible because of the lengthy amount of time it takes to complete the application. Equipment, livestock, or operating lines of credit typically need less time, but new customers will ideally need more time to apply for those loans.”

Larry adds, “We recommend that farmers should have plans in place as early as 6 – 9 months prior to planting. For example, there are some farmers pre-paying next year expenses as early as August. If you buy crop inputs early, some vendors will provide significant discounts.”

To make sure you reach all deadlines, start your loan application as soon as possible to give yourself and your lender ample time to get it thoroughly processed.

 

Why should customers choose First Mid for their ag financing?
“First Mid is the third largest ag lender in the state and our size opens opportunities for farmers of all sizes to work with us,” says Larry. “We also approach financing differently than our competitors. We separate loans by the operating cycle. Thus, a farmer could hold more than one operating loan at any time like a loan for the current growing crop and a prepaid expense note for the upcoming season. This helps align the expenses to produce a crop with the income from that crop, for a clearer understanding of the profitability.”

 

What can customers expect when they work with First Mid ag lenders?
“All of our ag lenders have a passion for agriculture. They can identify strengths and weaknesses from a farm financial statement and offer ideas to help meet financial goals,” says Larry. In addition to the expert business knowledge, First Mid ag lenders focus on great service and work to keep the loan process as convenient as possible. Julie explains, “I am willing to work with my customers at whatever time is convenient for them—early mornings or evenings, in my office or at their farm. I like to take the time to show them the financial ratios, so they fully understand all the details of their loan process.” Larry adds, “A farmer doesn’t need to come to the bank, we will come to them. We want to see their business, what’s going on with their farm, and have the opportunity to share our knowledge to help them become more profitable.”

 

Need help securing your ag loan? Look to the experienced loan officers at First Mid. Contact us today!

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