Bankers help those in agriculture navigate a financial space shaped by lending and equipment finance as well as trends and market headwinds.
For those working in the agriculture space, there is hardly a year without challenges. This year, across much of the country, these have included a delayed planting season, pandemic-related equipment delays and rising interest rates.
“It’s like playing cards with your finances,” said Randy Anderson, a southern Minnesota farmer, as he prepared for his 53rd growing season in April. “How much are we bluffing?”
Randy, along with his son, Ben Anderson, grows corn and soybeans on 3,800 acres in Freeborn and Steele Counties. Their 2022 growing season, cut short by cool, wet weather, meant they had to scrap a plan to grow 113-day corn. Yet, they’re setting goals high for the season – hoping that their work and financial investment will lead to more of their land producing at a higher yield.
“We’re constantly trying to improve our land,” said Ben. “We’ve spent $200,000 to $300,000 a year on tilling to drain excess water to improve our productivity and maintain healthier soil.”
U.S. Bank has worked with the Andersons as they’ve managed their business, funded new projects and navigated additional expenses for more than a decade. For the Andersons, Carla Brady – a now retired agriculture business banker – was a crucial member of their team.
“Carla has been really personal with us,” said Randy. “She handled our account like it was her own. She didn’t see something that was wrong and say, ‘too bad, so sad.’ She worked with us, and we knew there was someone looking out for us at the bank.”
Bankers specializing in agriculture – like Michael Bahl, who is a business banking relationship manager in Minnesota and Iowa – help farmers and others navigate a financial space shaped by lending and equipment finance as well as trends and market headwinds.
“No business is alike, but they are all affected by the same things,” said Bahl, who is based out of Owatonna, Minn. “Like the Andersons, others are affected by rising fuel costs, high fertilizer prices and delayed equipment shipments. 2022 is another challenging year.”
The Andersons have been waiting for a new high-speed planter. It now won’t arrive until the 2022 planting season is over. Fuel has risen about $2 per gallon in nine months. As they discussed ways to mitigate interest risk amid rising rates, the Andersons were able to take advantage of a forward rate product offered by U.S. Bank.
“We work to lessen the risk for farming operations, especially in these times of rising interest rates and high inflation,” said Bahl. “U.S. Bank is able to provide capital in multiple forms to meet the borrowing needs of our customers, whether it is a mortgage to buy new property, revolving lines of credit for operating needs or assistance buying new equipment.”
The Andersons finance equipment through U.S. Bank, adopting new, GPS-enabled technology. Equipment like this allows crops to be planted with just enough space between them, for each seed to be specifically targeted with fertilizer, and for crops to be harvested in a way that produces less waste. These large investments help farmers improve yields while taking care of the land.
"We strive for as close to perfection as we can in improving our land,” said Ben. “Once we have our current land close to perfect, we can move forward with purchasing additional land. Our goal is to work smarter with everything we do.”
As the Andersons manage multiple businesses and balance concerns from dry soil to inflation, bankers and support staff at U.S. Bank are there to help navigate their needs.
“U.S. Bank has a great support system for our ag customers,” said Kari Kincannon, a commercial banking client representative. “We’re here to really get to know how they operate and how they work, what their pain points are, and share in their successes.”
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