In these days of near-total uncertainty, one thing is most definitely certain... We have never seen anything quite like this before! First we battle through four consecutive years of subpar commodity prices, only to be followed by a year with some late-year price rally, but with very challenging weather that wreaked havoc on crop production. Then, just as we were coming full-steam into 2020 with the hopes of continued price recovery, and maybe, just maybe, some rebuilding in balance sheets that have taken a real beating, the world gets hit with this!
Now more than ever, our customers are going to need us to walk with them through these tumultuous times. They are facing tremendous uncertainty, fear, anxiety, and a great deal of confusion. Phones are ringing off the hook because now everyone understandably wants to refinance loans and some actually think they can get near zero percent interest! On top of that, everyone is looking for answers to questions no one has the answers to! Whether it be commodity prices, newly developing programs, future interest rates, where this is all going, we simply do not know. Now more than ever we need to remain calm, cool, and collected (definitely not easy), while we work with each individual farm to best guide them through and set them into financial products and programs conducive to their operations.
Although we have had to postpone it, your WBA Ag Section Board fully intends to hold the Ag Banker Conference this year. Now more than ever it will be important for us to hear from the talented lineup of speakers to deliver up-to-the-minute, cutting-edge information we can use in our banks and share with our customers. And now more than ever it will be ultra-important to network with our fellow ag banking peers. We always strive to put together a conference that is worth your time and money to attend. We know the speaker lineup is half the benefit, but the other very important half is the ability to communicate, discuss, converse, learn from, share (sometimes crazy) stories, and hopefully even laugh with others who do exactly what you do on the job each and every day.
We sincerely hope you will be able to join us for this year’s Agricultural Bankers Conference. As of the latest update, the plan is to hold a one-day Conference at the Glacier Canyon Conference Center in Wisconsin Dells on Wednesday, July 8, 2020. Bell Bank is offering a free half-day seminar July 9 at same location, featuring Lynn Paulson and Dr. David Kohl. We are encouraging everyone to attend the now one-day WBA Agricultural Bankers Conference, then stay over for the July 9 morning sessions. Now more than ever we need to support the agricultural industry; to stay grounded and ensure that our nation is fed, clothed, and sheltered. Now more than ever, we could use the support of one another. And now more than ever, we hope to see you at this year’s WBA Ag Banker Conference. Stay safe out there!
Sikora is senior vice president - agricultural banking at Citizens State Bank of Loyal and a member of the WBA Agricultural Bankers Section Board.