illinifarmradio.com Archives for 2018-01

Farm Credit 2018 Scholarship & Grant Programs For Youth Available: Supporting the Future of Agriculture and Healthy Rural Communities

High school seniors pursuing a career in agriculture are invited to apply for a $2,000 Farm Credit Illinois Agriculture Scholarship.
2017 FCI agriculture scholars

2017 Agriculture Scholar recipients at recognition luncheon

Thirty scholarships will be given in 2018 with two recipients designated as Urban Agriculture Scholars. Recipients are selected based on a combination of academic achievement, participation and leadership in school and community organizations, and the applicant’s commitment to an agricultural career. Applicants must be high school seniors enrolling in a college or university during the 2018 fall semester to pursue an agriculture-related academic major and career. Applicants must reside in – or immediate family must farm in – one of 60 central and southern counties in Illinois served by FCI. Recipients will receive $1,000 for the fall 2018 semester and $1,000 for fall 2020.

Farm Credit Illinois also invites 4-H Clubs and FFA Chapters organizing projects to apply for a $400 Community Improvement Grant.

 

Fifty $400 grants will be awarded to assist youth members in bringing positive change to their local community. Clubs should choose a project that delivers tangible value where the outcome is visible. Farm Credit encourages collaboration with other local organizations to develop and complete the improvement project.

Online applications for the scholarship and grant programs are available at www.farmcreditIL.com and must be submitted by Feb. 28. Questions or requests for additional information may be sent to ask@farmcreditIL.com.

“Farm Credit was created with one special mission – to support rural communities and agriculture – and that extends beyond financial services,” says Tom Tracy, FCI President & CEO.

Clovers and Cloverettes 4-H Club

Clovers and Cloverettes 4-H Club

 

“The Agriculture Scholarship program promotes positive opportunities for tomorrow’s leaders who will shape the future of agriculture while the Community Improvement Grant program helps local clubs and chapters make positive and tangible contributions to the health of Rural America.”

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Farm Credit Illinois is a farmer-owned and -directed agricultural lending cooperative serving 11,000 farm families, agribusinesses, and rural landowners in the southern 60 counties of Illinois with competitive and flexible financing and crop insurance expertise. The Association manages a $4.2 billion loan portfolio, sells 1.4 million acres of crop insurance coverage, and employs 220 staff based in the Mahomet central office and 14 regional office locations. The U.S. Farm Credit System supports rural communities, farm families, and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services today and tomorrow.

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Is Your Crop Insurance Coverage Right For You?

Winter is a time to plan for the next growing season. While it may be easiest to simply renew existing crop insurance policies, you may be leaving money on the table and exposing your farm to extra risk. By annually revisiting a farm’s risk management strategy and asking your crop insurance agent questions, you’ll optimize your coverage decisions.

1. How have the multi-peril crop programs changed?

The national crop insurance program is constantly evolving. Examining these changes annually can uncover new opportunities and potential savings. For example: Did you know the definition of "replant" is changing in 2018? Or that coverage on irrigated and non-irrigated acres can be customized?

2. Have recent changes on the farm affected your expected planted acres?

As farms seize opportunities to expand their farmland or sell off non-income producing assets, their coverage needs change. This can be true if added acres have a strong production history that may change your guarantee. To ensure you have the correct coverage, share any farm business or personal changes with your crop insurance agent. These changes may include adding or removing partners, changing crop mix, forming a new entity, and changing your marital status.

3. How much risk should your farm business endure this year?

Establishing an estimated cost of production gives you two pieces of critical information – how much money is required to grow your crops and how much insurance is needed to cover this investment in case of a crop failure. While the current agriculture economic cycle continues, you may want to consider increasing coverage levels to mitigate risk and maintain equity in the event of a substantial loss.

4. How can crop insurance bolster your marketing plan?

By establishing your cost of production and planting intentions for 2018, you can begin to use crop insurance to aid your marketing plan. If you choose a Revenue Protection policy, you can forward market confidently because of the bushel guarantee.

5. Can educational programs teach about new options?

Winter is the perfect time to brush up on your skills, explore new techniques, and learn from other farmers in your region. Crop insurance companies will likely host informational winter meetings to share updates on the federal crop insurance program – much like Farm Credit Illinois‘ Fielding Forward crop insurance meetings.

Evaluating crop insurance coverage options annually helps you understand the best policies for your farm business’s needs. Having a frank and timely conversation with your crop insurance agent is the most effective way to develop a risk management plan to protect your farm business.

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Farm Credit Invests In Local County Fairs

Three Farm Credit Illinois (FCI) regional offices recently made gifts totaling near $3,000 to local county fairs. The donations are part of the financial cooperative’s ongoing support of rural communities and agriculture. In 2016, FCI invested more than $245,000 in youth, community, and ag literacy initiatives throughout its 60-county marketplace. 

Above from L to R: Back Row: Jackson Lashmett (Scott County Fair Vice President), Chaz Walker, Blake Clayton, Millie Lashmett, Jessica Freeman (Farm Credit Illinois), Kacie McCleery, Brayden Freeman; Front Row: Keira Dahman, Jackie Lashmett, Braylee Littig, Oz Walker

Jacksonville

The FCI Jacksonville regional office recently made a $750 gift to the Scott County Fair. The funds will provide improvements to the Scott County Junior Fair’s livestock wash racks, making them safer and more effective for the 4-H members using them.

Mt. Vernon & Red Bud

The FCI Mt. Vernon and Red Bud regional offices recently awarded $1,500 to Perry County University of Illinois Extension. The joint funds will provide a new livestock scale for the Perry County 4-H Fair. The Mt. Vernon and Red Bud regional offices annually support Extension initiatives which further agricultural and youth development in rural communities.

 

Above from L to R: Cindy Bauman (Franklin County
4-H program coordinator), Robby Gilliam (FCI, Mt. Vernon)

The Mt. Vernon regional office also awarded almost $700 to the Franklin County University of Illinois Extension to provide the funding for new paint for the 4-H Barn at the Franklin County Fairgrounds.

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Five Ways To Find Your Balance Through Debt Restructuring

Farmers use their balancing skills every day – whether they’re climbing vertical ladders to close the top of the grain bin or wiping soybean dust off the combine windshield. While this dexterity is helpful while working outside, farmers must also be flexible in the office as they search for the financial balance necessary for business success.

As some farm families find themselves with depleted working capital, they may consider restructuring debt to increase liquidity. But before approaching a farm lender, they must recognize any underlying issues that got them off-center and create an action plan so restructuring doesn’t cause the farm further financial stress.

When evaluating the farm’s financial statement before restructuring debt, farmers should consider these tactics on their path to finding operational balance.

  1. Evaluate debt and term levels – overleveraging shorter-term assets and/or overly aggressive amortizations on term debts may be causing the cash flow issue
  2. Cut appropriate expenses before rebalancing ledgers – critically assess all farm expenditures, including family living expenses and non-income producing assets
  3. Understand current working capital levels – determine if cash reserves will support a new debt structure for the size of your farm business or if costs need to be reduced
  4. Review risk management practices – use a consistent marketing strategy and annually evaluate crop insurance options
  5. Keep thorough records – reliable year-end financial and accrual income statements are key to sound decision making

After examining these strategies, farmers are ready to talk with lenders about restructuring options. The conversation may include the following considerations:

  1. Being mindful of the asset and liability balance when financing assets to maintain adequate cash flow and build liquidity to withstand economic cycles
  2. Aligning the loan term to the life of the asset corresponding with the loan
  3. Considering locking in a fixed interest rate for the life of the loan to gain a better understanding of the long-term debt service demands on your family farm
  4. Understanding the additional cost of longer-term financing

Restructuring debt may not be a solution for all farm businesses, but the benefit of additional working capital may be worth the extra cost if care is taken in finding the optimal financial balance the farm business needs to continue today and tomorrow.

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Farm Credit Illinois Increases Farmdoc Endowment: $400,000 Gift Expands Annual Contribution to Program

Farm Credit Illinois (FCI) contributed an additional $400,000 into a farmdoc endowment at the University of Illinois Foundation, originally established in December 2010.
 
Farmdoc and farmdocdaily provide farm families with online tools, information, and resources to help farmers make business decisions on their farm. The two websites collectively host more than 3 million visits annually.
 
Since FCI established the farmdoc endowment with a $350,000 gift in 2010, the endowment has provided more than $100,000 of program support while its market value has gradually grown to $400,000. The latest $400,000 gift to the farmdoc endowment brings the market value to more than $800,000, which will now provide more than $30,000 of annual program support.
 
“Many of the 11,000 farm families comprising FCI’s membership visit and subscribe to farmdoc,” says Tom Tracy, FCI President & CEO. “As a farmer-owned financial cooperative, we are proud to invest in a cutting-edge initiative which provides tools and resources better equipping our members to make decisions, in turn Helping Farm Families Succeed today and tomorrow.”
 
“During the tightening of today’s Illinois farm economy, farmdoc is a crucial resource for farmers managing businesses with narrow financial margins,” says Mark Miller, FCI Board Chair.
 
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About Farm Credit Illinois
 
Farm Credit Illinois is a farmer-owned and directed agricultural lending cooperative serving 8,500 farm families, agribusinesses, and rural landowners in the southern 60 counties of Illinois with competitive and flexible financing and crop insurance expertise. The Association manages a $4 billion loan portfolio, provides 1.4 million acres of crop insurance coverage, and employs 210 staff based in the Mahomet central office and 14 regional office locations. The U.S. Farm Credit System supports rural communities, farm families, and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services today and tomorrow.

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Farm Credit Returns $3 Million To Farm Families: Harvest Interest Returns Impacts 2,859 Member-borrowers

Farm Credit Illinois provided zero percent interest on operating loans during October and November to more than 2,800 farm families – accumulating $3.02 million of total interest credit. This special “Harvest Interest Returns” program automatically applied to existing FCI operating loans on balances up to $500,000.
 
“In the challenging economic cycles of agriculture, farmer’s working capital levels are stressed,” says Tom Tracy, FCI President & CEO. “Harvest Interest Returns provided timely relief to our membership with operating loans while thanking the farm families working tirelessly through the harvest season.”
 
“As a farmer-owned cooperative, Directors see tighter margins reflected in our own balance sheets,” says Mark Miller, FCI Board Chair. “We recognized it was the Association’s role to give back a portion of the year’s success.”
 
Farm Credit Illinois is a farmer-owned and directed agricultural lending cooperative serving 11,000 farm families, agribusinesses, and rural landowners in the southern 60 counties of Illinois with competitive and flexible financing and crop insurance expertise. The Association manages a $4.2 billion loan portfolio, sells 1.4 million acres of crop insurance coverage, and employs 220 staff based in the Mahomet central office and 14 regional office locations. The U.S. Farm Credit System supports rural communities, farm families, and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services today and tomorrow.

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Seven Join Farm Credit Association Team

Farm Credit Illinois recently hired seven employees throughout its 60-county territory: Adam Bane, of Lexington; Jie Cai, of Champaign; Heather McKinney, of Mahomet; Renea Morris, of Paris; Brandi Nugent, of Paris; Tammy Schroeder, of Mahomet; and Ryan Tallman, of Pocahontas.

Adam BaneBane began Sept. 25, as a credit assistant in the credit services division based in the financial cooperative’s central office in Mahomet. He was raised on his family’s McLean County grain and livestock farm in Arrowsmith and graduated from Tri-Valley High School before receiving his associate’s degree in agriculture from Joliet Junior College. Bane then earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Prior to joining the Farm Credit team, Bane worked for more than two years as a grain originator at Prairie Central Cooperative in Chenoa and as a sales professional for four years at Martin Sullivan in Lexington.

Jie CaiCai began Oct. 1, as a portfolio risk analyst in the credit services division based in the financial cooperative’s central office in Mahomet. She was raised in Shiyan, China and graduated from Dongfeng High School before receiving her bachelor’s degree in finance from Beijing Language and Cultural University. Cai then earned two master’s degrees – one in management with business finance from the University of York and another in policy economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Prior to joining the Farm Credit team, Cai worked for one year as an analyst at Dagong Global Credit Rating Company in Beijing, China. Cai resides in Champaign with her husband Li Chen. Cai is the daughter of Zhengdong Tan and Xiuhua Cai of Shiyan, China.

Heather McKinneyMcKinney started as a sales and service specialist in the Mahomet regional office Oct. 9. The Mahomet office serves farm families and rural landowners in Champaign, Douglas, Ford, Piatt, and Vermilion Counties.

McKinney was raised in Champaign County and graduated from Mahomet-Seymour High School before receiving her associate’s degree in applied science hospitality management from Parkland College. Prior to joining the Farm Credit team, McKinney worked for two years as a human resources payroll specialist at Express Employment in Champaign and as an assistant branch manager for more 15 years at Busey Bank in Mahomet. McKinney resides in Mahomet with her husband Joey with their two children – CJ (16) and Sydney (11).

Renae MorrisMorris began Oct. 2, as sales and service specialists at the Paris regional office. The Paris office serves farm families and rural landowners in Clark, Coles, and Edgar Counties.

Morris was raised in Edgar County and graduated from Chrisman High School. Prior to joining the Farm Credit team, Morris worked for more than 30 years in the banking industry, most recently as the president and manager at Paris Hi-Way Credit Union. Morris resides in Paris with her husband John and has two children – Mark and Sarah (Ben) Setzer.

Nugent started as sales and service specialists at the Paris regional office Sept. 26. The Paris office serves farm families and rural landowners in Clark, Coles, and Edgar Counties.

Morris was raised in Edgar County and graduated from Paris High School before receiving her bachelor’s degree in business management from Indiana State University. Prior to joining the Farm Credit team, Nugent worked for more than 12 years in human resources, most recently as an employee benefits relationships manager at USI Insurance in Terre Haute, Ind. for three years. Nugent resides in Paris with her husband Shawn and their children – Braylon (13) and Landon (11).

Tammy Schroeder

Schroeder was hired on full-time as a crop insurance service administrator in the crop insurance service division based in the financial cooperative’s central office in Mahomet Nov. 1. She was raised in Champaign County and graduated from Champaign Central High School before receiving her associate’s degree in travel and tourism from Parkland College.

Prior to joining the Farm Credit team, Schroeder worked for six years at TSI Commercial Floor Covering & Advanced Commercial Roofing, two years at COUNTRY Financial, and 20 years at Patton Lumber Company. Schroeder resides in Mahomet with her husband Marty and has three daughters – Stephanie Hale, Jessica Schulze, and Jennifer Zimmerman.

Ryan TallmanTallman began Oct. 26, as a vice president of lending to the Highland regional office. The Highland office serves farm families and rural landowners in Bond, Clinton, Madison, and Washington Counties.

Tallman was raised on his family’s Kankakee County grain farm and graduated from Normal Community West High School before receiving his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Prior to joining the Farm Credit team, Tallman worked for more than 12 years as a credit underwriter and loan officer at The Bank of Edwardsville. Tallman resides in Pocahontas with his wife Amber with their two children – Amelia (6) and Molly (4).

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Farm Credit Illinois is a farmer-owned and directed agricultural lending cooperative serving 11,000 farm families, agribusinesses, and rural landowners in the southern 60 counties of Illinois with competitive and flexible financing and crop insurance expertise. The Association manages a $4.2 billion loan portfolio, sells 1.4 million acres of crop insurance coverage, and employs 220 staff based in the Mahomet central office and 14 regional office locations. The U.S. Farm Credit System supports rural communities, farm families, and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services today and tomorrow.

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FCI Joins Farm Credit Technology Cooperative: New Platform & Member Portals Debut August 2018

Farm Credit Illinois is becoming an owner of the Farm Credit Financial Partners, Inc., (FPI) technology organization based in Agawam, Mass. and Spokane, Wash. The other owners of FPI include AgCountry Farm Credit Services (serving parts of North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin), Farm Credit East (serving most of New York and New England), Farm Credit West (serving parts of California and Arizona), and Northwest Farm Credit Services (serving Washington, Oregon, Montana, Alaska, and part of Idaho).
 
The $10 million capital investment by FCI provides the opportunity to collaborate with four of the 10 largest Associations in owning the premier technology and financial services platform in the Farm Credit System. For more than 20 years, FPI has developed innovative Farm Credit solutions with a proven track record as a successful technology leader in the System.
 
“Joining FPI gives us access to a robust, secure, and tested platform which is continually evolving to incorporate the latest technology advancements,” says Tom Tracy, FCI President & CEO. “This collaboration demonstrates the important and valuable principle of cooperation among cooperatives.”
 
A strategic transition plan will continue until the final technology upgrade in August. At that point, FCI borrowers will have access to a new online banking portal and begin receiving newly formatted payment notices, statements, receipts, and loan summaries. Detailed information about these changes will be shared with member-borrowers in summer 2018.
 
“Like all strategic business decisions at FCI, the overriding consideration for selecting FPI as our cooperative’s new technology platform is tied directly to our core purpose. We are convinced FPI best positions FCI for Helping Farm Families Succeed today and tomorrow,” says Tracy.

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