Here’s to a financially focused new year (Credit Corner)
(Editor’s note: Katie Ward is a division marketing specialist with MidAtlantic Farm Credit.)
A year that none of us saw coming and wouldn’t mind never seeing again has come to a close. Most of us are looking forward to this New Year and the hope of more “normal” circumstances. Through all the disruptions that 2020 brought us, we are thankful to have had the opportunity to serve our Farm Credit members and the agricultural industry. In 2021, we will focus on serving the growing needs of our members with the same agricultural and financial knowledge.
Over the past 10 months, we have been working diligently to offer our members many supportive tools to help navigate the effects of the pandemic, three of which are:
• Loan Modifications: With the falling interest rates last spring, we were in the unique position to be able to reduce the rates for hundreds of our members. This allowed us to provide cash flow relief during the COVID crisis and on into the future.
• Deferrals: For those of our members who had their income stream eliminated or drastically reduced, we offered the opportunity to defer their monthly payments for up to six months. This tool provided flexibility to borrowers who were not sure how they were going to continue making their payments; and
• Patronage: The financial benefit of being a Farm Credit member was never more on display than in 2020. When our Board recognized the financial hardships that were being brought on in the industry, they acted quickly to send back additional cash patronage to our members. Throughout the year, $51 million was distributed to our membership and hopefully provided some much needed liquidity.
We interviewed our Chief Lending Officer, Stuart Cooper, on our AgVocates podcast last month to hear his thoughts on the industry for 2021:
“In the ag business right now, we see opportunities where people are making changes in the way they provide products and services from the farm,” says Cooper. “We still have concerns with the recent uptick in COVID cases, and the states moving back to more restrictive guidelines. And we’re just not sure what issues are going to continue and what we may face here in the next six to 12 months.
“Our farmers are resilient. It’s made many of our members look to be more efficient and innovative, which to me is exciting. And it bodes well for the industry. You know, we expect to see more of this innovation to take place in the coming years, and they’re going to do things to keep their operations viable. And that’s what really excites me. And that’s what we as an organization are here to help them with — making those changes that they need to make. I think they have to stay connected, too. I encourage farmers to reach out to your loan officer, not only with questions about your loans, but if you have industry questions as well. We have a staff that’s knowledgeable about certain industries and we continue to look for ways to help our membership and provide services. We’re going to be introducing some new services here soon.”
To listen to the podcast episode or read the full transcript, visit mafc.com/blog/agvocates-podcast-stuart-cooper.
To learn more about what Farm Credit can do for you, call 888-339-3334.