Wisconsin Agricultural Bankers Provide Support, Industry Insight
March 14 was National Ag Day, and WBA commemorated it with a press release highlighting the many ways in which Wisconsin's ag banks support the ag industry. To do so, the association polled its ag bankers on what they do to serve their agribusiness customers, as well as for stories on how they go the extra mile for farmers.
"We value the farms, agribusiness, and hardworking people that make up the communities we serve," one banker responded. "For over 160 years, agriculture has been a part of our business and will continue to be important to us, just as it's important for the ag community to have local, community banks to help them through these tough times. Whether it's sitting at the family dinner table late in the evening discussing the future of an operation, an afternoon visit to drop off a gift card just to say 'thanks and have dinner on us' during the busy harvest season, or a quick phone call to a dairy farmer just to check in on his or her mental well-being, we continue to help our ag community grow and prosper."
Bankers from other institutions revealed they support their community through service on local ag boards, buying animals at county fairs, hosting annual informational meetings on agribusiness-related topics, and sponsoring major ag events. Yet another banker responded, "With our time and talents, our bank and our bankers support local ag community initiatives and youth programs. Healthy communities and schools are important to our current generation of farmers and our next generation of farmers. Succession planning is a part of every customer annual review." Other institutions reported offering similar forward-looking assistance with long-term planning and succession.
Ultimately, WBA's survey of member banks revealed their dedication to serving their ag customers, even when a loan or other financial product isn't the best solution. "In these difficult times, just being there to listen is the most important thing we do," one banker wrote. "Saying yes is easy, saying no is difficult… and sometimes no is the most honest answer."
Just a few months later, the WBA again surveyed its ag banking members, this time to provide market insight. While loan restructures and concern over commodity prices has increased from last year's survey, responses generally indicate a healthy banking sector ready to serve its ag customers. In fact, 70% of survey respondents indicated their bank is actively pursuing new ag business.
Highlights from the survey are detailed below: