Summer 2014

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Transcription

Summer 2014
Today
AgStar
INSIDE:
The scoop on prevented planting coverage
Annie’s Project empowers farm women
■ High school scholarship winners
■
■
SUMMER 2014
AGSTAR IN ACTION | CROP INSURANCE
Prevented from Planting
When Mother Nature keeps farmers out of the fields,
it’s important to understand your options
“It’s important to know
what qualifies, what you
can and can’t do,
and what the entire
process entails.”
— Trevor Knutson
2
A G S TA R T O D AY
“I
had never seen anything like it,” Jim Sam of Faribault said about the 2013
planting season. “It’s not unusual to have to plant around small wet spots in the
field, but last year, it was the entire field.”
“Prevented plant” has become a buzzword the last few years, with the unusually wet
springs and often colder than normal temperatures. According to the Farm Service Agency
(FSA), over 900,000 acres in Minnesota were reported as prevented plant in 2013. The only
state with more prevented plant acres than Minnesota was North Dakota.
For Jim, his first step was to talk with his insurance agent and AgStar Financial Services
Officer, Larry Hafemeyer. “Larry called to check up on me and I started to get information on
what my options were,” he said.
“It goes without saying that we hope our clients are able to plant all their crops in a timely
manner, in favorable conditions,” said Larry Hafemeyer. “But when that doesn’t happen, we
want to make sure our clients understand what happens next.”
In addition to farm visits and phone calls, AgStar held meetings to inform clients about
the prevented plant process and regulations. In 2013, nearly 800 people attended these
meetings. This year, AgStar again held prevented plant meetings in five different locations.
Amy Durand, product manager for the AgStar Edge, which is AgStar’s educational resource
center, understood that farmers were in need of information about prevented plant. “It’s a
situation that not many farmers have experienced before,” she explained. “We knew that
giving them a chance to learn directly from our risk management team and Financial
Services Officers would help them understand what actions were best for their operation.”
As the 2014 planting season rolled around, prevented plant was again a buzzword on the
farm. Trevor Knutson from Ridgeland, WI was not immune to the talk. “It was in the back of
my mind. I was definitely thinking about it early on,” he said.
When it kept raining (and raining), it was time to get some more information from a
trusted source. Trevor reached out to Doug Kucko, his AgStar Financial Services Officer.
“Trevor came in to the office and sat down with myself and our Insurance Sales Specialist,
Linda Hanson. Trevor had a lot of the same questions that most of our clients have,” Doug
said. “Topics like final planting dates, payment amounts, and acceptable cover crops were
big issues.”
“It’s a situation that no one wants to deal with,” Doug commented. “Our farmers want to
farm and get their crop in the ground. We do our best to make sure they have all the
information they need so they can make the right choice for their farm.”
Trevor attended a prevented plant informational meeting the last week of May in Rice
Lake, WI. “I wasn’t too surprised at how many people were there,” he said. “I knew the wet
weather had affected a large area.” Trevor was happy with how informative the meeting was.
“It’s easy to be misinformed about the rules, so it was great to hear directly from the AgStar
team.”
With each client
experiencing a
different set of
circumstances, it is a
challenge to provide
information that
applies to each
operation.
With each client experiencing a different set of circumstances, it is a challenge to provide
information that applies to each operation. Keith Velie, Risk Management Executive from
Rice Lake, recognizes this. “When I went through the presentation at the informational
meeting in Rice Lake, I knew that the rules and process I was explaining would apply to each
client’s operation a bit differently. The producers at the meeting asked great questions; it was
helpful to have them all in one room so they could hear what other farmers were wondering
as well,” Keith said.
Doug encouraged his clients to attend the meeting if they thought they were going to be
affected by prevented plant. “It was a great way to get everyone on the same page. Then we
were able to talk about how the process was going to work for their specific situation,” he
said.
Having now been through the process, Trevor says the best thing to do is to be informed.
“It’s important to know what qualifies, what you can and can’t do, and what the entire
process entails,” he said.
Jim Sam, who experienced prevented plant two years in a row, said that it’s crucial to
know what your options are. “Understanding what you can do for cover crops and figuring
out what’s logical for your farm is key.”
“It’s something we unfortunately have to deal with,” Doug says. “We hope we don’t have
to deal with prevented plant on such a large scale in the future, but if we do, we’re ready to
help our clients in any way we can.” ■
AgStar TODAY
is published by AgStar Financial
Services, ACA. The mission of TODAY is
to educate, inform and connect with
our clients and supporters. TODAY is
copyrighted in its entirety.
Editor Terri Fast
Assistant Editor Breanne Rentschler
Contributors Steve Bodart, Paul
DeBriyn, Amy Durand, Spencer Enninga,
Chris Gartner, Michelle Huneke, Krystal
Ohlhaber, Christine Reitsma
Design Stevenson Creative, LLC
Send comments or suggestions to
[email protected]
S U M M E R 2014
3
AGSTAR IN ACTION | FARM LIFE
From left: Linda Glisczinski, Sandy Kubes, Becky Huppert and Joan Glisczinski at Annie’s Project.
Stepping into her Role
Annie’s Project dedicated to strengthening
women’s role on the farm
By the end of
Annie’s Project,
participants will have
developed a strong and
well-rounded
understanding of their
farm and the
agriculture industry.
T
he job of a farm wife can be challenging to say the least. Between helping out on
the farm, volunteering at school and in the community, ensuring that house and
farm chores are done and putting food on the table, it can be easy to forget that
you’re a business partner as well.
The most recent USDA Census of Agriculture reported that forty-four percent of the 2.1
million farms in America have two operators. Two-thirds (67 percent) of second operators are
women, of whom 90 percent are the spouse of the principal farm operator.
That’s a lot of decision-making power that helps shape not only the success of individual
farming operations, but the future of the ag industry itself for years to come. So, if you’re one
of these female farmers, how do you prepare yourself for the responsibility?
Education
At AgStar, we understand the important role females play on the farm. That’s why we have
chosen to sponsor and host the Annie’s Project program in Minnesota. Annie’s Project,
established in 2002, is a nationwide movement with the goal of strengthening the role of
women in the modern farm enterprise.
This six-week program is dedicated to building networks through managing and
organizing critical information. The unique curriculum and workshop format provides
support for women, from women. The hope is that by the end of Annie’s Project, participants
will have developed a strong and well-rounded understanding of their farm and the
agriculture industry. Five areas of risk are examined during the program including:
production, financial, marketing, legal and human resources.
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A G S TA R T O D AY
Networking
It’s not all about discussing the risks though. Annie’s Project serves as a great time to meet
and learn about women within your area who hold the same passion for agriculture that you
do. Linda Glisczinski, a farm wife and mother of three, has attended Annie’s Project twice in
the past. During one of those, she attended with a close friend, Lori Pint. The two women
agreed that Annie’s Project brought them even closer together.
“Women are more open when men aren’t present,” Lori said in a recent conversation
about the program. “Annie’s Project gives you a sense of empowerment.”
Though Linda has been working on her family’s farm for over 30 years, the program
enabled her to become an active participant in the decision making conversations. The
Glisczinskis operate a 200 cow dairy farm outside of New Prague, MN. “When Tim (our crop
insurance representative) comes to the farm, for example, now I understand the terms being
discussed and feel like I have a seat at the table.”
After each lesson, she would bring topics like estate planning, soil conservation, and
insurance home to discuss with her husband. “Kenny remembers the topics I learned about
better than I do and he didn’t attend,” Linda joked.
The knowledge she gained also empowered Linda and helped her feel more confident.
“After Annie’s Project, I was finally able to answer questions when people came to the farm,
rather than point them in Kenny’s direction.”
“A large initiative within the AgStar Edge is to provide educational opportunities for
women in agriculture. If you ask a
woman in rural America if they
know someone who has suffered
the loss of a spouse, and then the
loss of a farm and livelihood; I
would guess they all would say yes.
We hear this all the time at the
AgStar Women’s Seminars,” AgStar
Edge Product Manager Amy
Durand states. “Educational
initiatives like Annie’s Project help
reduce the likelihood of that
outcome. By providing an
educational opportunity for
women to come and learn about
the common areas of risk in
farming, and prepare them to
make business decisions, we are
ensuring another generation of
that farming operation and
keeping more farms alive.“
Linda hopes to attend Annie’s Project for a third time, this time bringing her daughter
along to learn through the experience. “I would love to share the things I’ve learned with my
daughter and dive even deeper into the business side of the operation.”
According to Linda, the project puts things into perspective and encourages participants
to explore new ideas and work to improve their farming operation. “Annie’s Project gets you
thinking proactively. Things change; there is always new information out there. Farmers have
to keep their minds open and continue to learn to stay ahead in the world.”
Annie’s Project will be offered in Mankato in January/February 2015. Sign up for the
Women in Agriculture eNewsletter at AgStar.com to make sure you don’t miss this
opportunity. ■
“Annie’s Project gets
you thinking
proactively. Things
change; there is
always new
information out there.
Farmers have to keep
their minds open and
continue to learn to
stay ahead in the
world.”
— Linda Glisczinski
Annie’s Project is a great way to learn,
network, and meet women in your area
who are passionate about agriculture.
S U M M E R 2014
5
AGSTAR IN ACTION | AG ADVOCACY
Client Insights:
The Washington Experience
”Civic engagement is
very important. We
all live here together
and we need to look
out for one another.”
— Elizabeth Goreham
P
eople are talking about farmers and food more than ever before. Everywhere we
go, we are inundated with information and misinformation about the agriculture
industry. It’s never been more important for farmers to tell their story. Regardless
of what you grow or how you grow it, the one thing pretty much everyone in agriculture can
agree on is the power of advocating for our industry.
At AgStar, for years we’ve recommended our clients and others in agriculture reach out to
non-farming folks and talk about where food comes from. We’ve often encouraged our
clients to voice their opinions by writing or calling elected officials to explain their point of
view.
This past spring, we took it one step further by hosting a client trip to Washington, D.C.
This experience offered clients an opportunity to share agriculture’s story face-to-face with
lawmakers, agency officials and other key influencers in our nation’s capital.
Staci Martin, AgStar’s Director of Legislative Affairs, believes there is incredible value in
connecting with your elected officials, whether they’re in D.C. or right in your own backyard.
“Getting to know your elected officials and their staff — and making sure they know you —
are important first steps to engagement in the legislative process,” explains Martin. “And
connect others to your network and continue expanding your contacts to ensure you’re part
of the conversations that are impacting you and your operation.”
In every industry, especially agriculture, this is incredibly important. “When you make
connections, you have the opportunity to tell your story. And remember, no one can tell
your story better than you. Your first-hand information is extremely valuable. Elected officials
want to know how and why issues impact you,” advises Martin.
A few of the clients who participated in the trip shared their thoughts on the experience.
Take a look at what they had to say.
Mike Mulcahey
Farm Operation Type: Retired grain and livestock farmer
Location: Waseca, MN
Issues of Importance: Transportation including updating waterways and pipelines and
moving products around the world
Mike Mulcahey
Q: How do you see this experience helping farmers and rural America? A: If we don’t tell our side of the story, the politicians don’t hear it. It’s important to highlight
and discuss issues that concern rural America including: water issues, farm programs,
young farmer programs, high speed internet in rural areas and a variety of other topics so
they understand our issues and perspectives.
Q: Why would you encourage other producers to engage with elected officials or become
engaged in the legislative process?
A: If you’ve established a relationship with elected officials, there’s a better chance they will
listen when you contact them on an issue that impacts farmers and/or rural America.
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A G S TA R T O D AY
”As producers, we need to be willing to work
together, which means crossing commodity
boundaries, as a team, for the collective
benefit of agriculture.”
— Monica Anderson
In addition, as you develop relationships, you may become a resource for them to contact
for your opinion on agriculture issues. They’re dealing with a variety of issues and they
need connections to help them better understand topics they might not be as familiar
with; agriculture is definitely one of these.
Monica Anderson
Farm Operation Type: Corn, soybeans and recently breaking into livestock
Location: Walnut Grove, MN
Issues of Importance: Rural development and EPA
Q: What was your biggest takeaway from the trip?
A: The importance of networking. It’s so vital for people in agriculture to stay connected
and network. As producers, we need to be willing to work together, which means
crossing commodity boundaries, as a team, for the collective benefit of agriculture. In
addition, I appreciated the commitment of the AgStar Board and team. Not only do
producers need to remain networked and committed, but it’s essential that the
organizations we work with and use as resources are engaged as well.
Q: We visited with a lot of stakeholders. What impact has their perspectives and expertise
had on you and your operation? A: It was an eye opening experience to visit with Acting Chairman Mark Wetjen and his staff
at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. They spent time really listening to
us, wanting to hear our concerns and issues. The importance of hearing and
understanding both sides of the issues was very obvious during this meeting.
Monica Anderson
EXPLORE FURTHER . . .
To find contact information for
representatives, visit
house.gov and senate.gov,
and enter your ZIP code in the
top right corner.
Paul Fetzer
Farm Operation Type: 1,300 cow, family owned, dairy operation
Location: Elmwood, WI
Issues of Importance: Section179 tax deduction and immigration
Q: How do you see this experience helping farmers and rural America?
A: The opportunity presented to me by AgStar to be part of the Washington Experience
showed me the importance of actually going to legislators’ offices to talk about how
policies affect us and putting our faces with the issues. Being there also proved how
many other groups, people and issues legislators have to consider in their decisionmaking process.
Q: What surprised you most regarding what you learned about the legislative process?
A: After being there, it’s easy to see why policies take so long to develop. No matter the
issue or how close folks really are in their thoughts around an issue, people
have opposing views as to how to come to a resolution.
Paul Fetzer
continued on page 8
S U M M E R 2014
7
Washington Experience
Chris Staub
Farm Operation Type: Corn and soybeans
Location: West Concord, MN
Issues of Importance: Tax extenders and farm bill implementation
Continued from page 7
Q: What was your biggest takeaway from the trip?
A: I was surprised by how receptive all the offices were to listening to our issues and stories,
and engaging us in dialogue. At the same time, I was pleased to learn how updated and
knowledgeable many of the offices were regarding issues impacting agriculture.
Q: Why would you encourage other producers to engage in an experience like this?
A: An experience like this provides a first-hand opportunity to learn how the process works;
I gained insight and understanding to bring back to the farm. In addition, there’s a lot of
value in having the chance to tell your story. I believe that hearing our stories regarding
how legislation impacts us directly builds significantly more credibility around the issue
than hearing about it from someone else.
Chris Staub
Brent Krohn
Farm Operation Type: Corn, soybeans and custom finish hogs
Location: Nicollet, MN
Issues of Importance: Young and beginning farmers and transportation concerns
Q: How do you see this experience helping farmers and rural America?
A: It’s not every day that our representatives in Washington have American farmers take the
time and effort to show up on their doorstep, nor do American farmers often have the
opportunity to visit their representatives. Being in Washington to share the issues we see
firsthand has greater meaning than a formal letter or industry lobbyist telling our story. It
was a great opportunity and dialogue.
A few years ago, I listened to Bruce Vincent speak at an AgStar Outlook meeting and a
statement resonates with me; “If we don’t tell our own story someone else will, and likely
from their perspective.” If we’re not in Washington telling our story and doing our part,
someone else is. Unfortunately, they likely don’t have our best interest in mind. Farmers
can tell their story better than anyone else.
Brent Krohn
Q: We visited with a lot of stakeholders, what impact has their perspectives and expertise
had on you and your operation? A: One of my biggest takeaways from meeting with various stakeholders is we need to work
together for the advancement of rural America and agriculture. Not only did we meet
with stakeholders from all different segments of the industry, but our group was diverse
as well, from size of operation, demographics of producers and types of farming
operation. We represented many facets of agriculture from specialty hogs to dairy cattle
and crop operations of corn, soybeans, wheat, potatoes and everything in between. This
Washington DC Trip Highlights
• Visits with elected officials and/or staff representing Minnesota
and Wisconsin including Senators Franken, Johnson, Klobuchar
and Baldwin and members of Congress Kline, Paulsen, Peterson,
Nolan, Kind Duffy, Bachmann and Walz.
• Informational sessions with Farm Credit Council, AgriBank and
Vin Weber. Vin Weber is a former Minnesota congressman and
partner with Mercury/Clark & Weinstock. He shared insight on
the current political environment and upcoming elections.
• Dinner with former MN Governor, Tim Pawlenty.
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A G S TA R T O D AY
• Meeting with Acting Chairman of the Commodity Futures
Trading Commission, Mark Wetjen, and several top staff
members focused on the futures markets.
• Discussion with USDA Risk Management Administrator,
Brandon Willis, and staff on farm bill implementation and crop
insurance programs
• Panels from a variety of agriculture organizations sharing
information about the organizations they represent, issues they
cover and perspectives on sharing agriculture’s message in DC.
diversity helped us realize that, no matter how unique our operation, we share many of
the same struggles. For me, these experiences allowed our operation to step back and
take a bigger look at agriculture as we make decisions for the future.
Greg Schwarz
Farm Operation Type: Corn, soybeans and turkey production
Location: Le Sueur, MN
Issues of Importance: Transportation infrastructure and biofuel production
Q: How do you see this experience helping farmers and rural America? A: Besides making some good connections with legislators on issues important to
Minnesota farmers, I think it helps our fellow farmers realize that it’s not all that difficult to
visit with elected officials. It can be as easy as a phone call, an e-mail or a personal visit.
The point is that we must take the first step to engage decision-makers of all types on
issues important to our farms. Maybe someone will be motivated to contact their
Congressman after seeing how easy it is.
Q: Why would you encourage other producers to engage with elected officials or become
engaged in the legislative process? A: If you’re not at the table, you will be on the menu. Because farming is so diverse and
sometimes complex, it’s important that we, as farmers, tell our story so legislators
understand how their decisions affect us. Whether we like it or not, everything we do is
political. Therefore, it’s vital that we connect with decision-makers that may affect our
future success in some way. Farmers make up a small segment of the population; yet we
represent the key to food, energy and economic security both at home and abroad.
Most of us know the talking points, we just have to start talking. ■
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AGSTAR IN ACTION | FARM BUSINESS
The Business of Farming
Four Tips for Improving
Operational Performance through
Best Practice Benchmarking
Benchmarking allows
organizations to
develop plans to make
improvements or adopt
specific best practices.
B
enchmarking. Any time this word is brought up there tends to be a lot of
excitement from producers about being a part of a benchmark group and the
information they will receive from a benchmarking study. While it’s true that
benchmarking can offer a lot of value to a business, at the same time it’s important to
differentiate between the valid benchmark comparisons and the noise. Some data should
not be considered in any benchmark comparison.
Best practice benchmarking is the process used by management, in which organizations
evaluate various aspects of their processes in relation to best practice companies’ processes,
usually within a peer group defined for the purposes of comparison. Benchmarking then
allows organizations to develop plans on how to make improvements or adopt specific best
practices, usually with the aim of increasing some aspect of performance.
1. Compare apples to apples
Steve Bodart is a Principal Business
Consultant and Dairy Industry
Specialist with AgStar. Steve has a
deep understanding of the family
dairy business and large producer
operations. He has been with AgStar
since 2001.
10
A G S TA R T O D AY
If we are comparing to the best of our peers, why are there any concerns about best practice
benchmarking? Best practice benchmarking is only valid if numbers are put together very
specifically by all contributing organizations. Within the dairy industry, a favorite benchmark
is feed cost/cwt milk. While this may seem very straightforward, without knowing what is
included in the number, the results could be very misleading and lead to inaccurate
information. Here is just a partial list of some questions to be answered for a feed cost/cwt
milk benchmark to be a valid comparison:
• Does the feed cost include purchased feed only or purchased and home raised feed?
• Is there a standard value that is included on all home raised feeds?
• Does feed cost/cwt milk include feeds fed to dry cows and young stock or milking cows
alone?
• Are the pounds of milk being compared to pounds actually sold, DHIA records or
metered weights in the parlor?
• Since different producers have different component levels in their milk, are any
adjustments being taken into account with the benchmark?
2. Track the right data
A second factor that needs to be considered and evaluated when using benchmarks is
whether or not the benchmarks track the correct matrix that is important to the business. In
the example above related to feed cost/cwt of milk, let’s assume all the questions were
answered so that the way the feed cost is measured is identical to the benchmark
methodology. Is feed cost/cwt milk the right matrix to measure or is there a better matrix?
Sometimes having a higher feed cost is what you need to do to increase profitability. I
believe a benchmark more important than feed cost/cwt milk is income over feed
cost/cow/day. Cows eat feed and cows produce milk. I don’t know how many cows it takes to
get a cwt of milk or how much feed it takes to produce a cwt of milk, yet many of the other
costs within the dairy are based on the number of cows that I am managing. So to me,
benchmarking income over feed cost/cow/day is a much more relevant factor.
3. Compare larger chunks of data
When performance benchmarking with your peers it is important to look at comparisons
made on big pieces of information and not try to benchmark comparing every line item.
Even though every operation in the study may be dairies of relatively similar size, there can
still be a lot of variance within certain individual lines. For example, one producer may have
an older, less efficient parlor than his peers resulting in higher labor costs. While this may
cause a red flag if looked at on this level, his depreciation may be much less than the
benchmark and his overall cost of production may still be in line. If we focused all our
attention on the labor only, we could potentially come up with false conclusions whereas the
overall cost of production may tell us that this dairy is still very competitive. Benchmarking
larger pieces of information allows you to more accurately view how you compare with the
industry without getting stuck trying to change a piece of your management system, which
could cause you to try and put a square peg in a round hole.
”Provided you are
consistent with how
data is collected and
entered,
benchmarking
against yourself
allows you to see the
areas of
improvement that
you have made and
where areas of
opportunity still
exist.”
4. Compare against yourself
An area of benchmarking that is not done nearly enough is benchmarking against your own
operation year after year. Provided you are consistent with how data is collected and
entered, benchmarking against yourself allows you to see the areas of improvement that you
have made and where areas of opportunity still exist. If you benchmark against yourself and
your peers, you are able to evaluate the detailed management changes that you have made
and how they have impacted the efficiency of your operation. It also gives you a chance to
look at the big picture and see how you compare with where the industry is moving.
Businesses are always challenging themselves to do better. In order for a business to do
better, they need to have a standard to compare to. The standard may be last year’s
performance of your own operation or the top 25 percent of your industry. Proper
interpretation and understanding of benchmarks allows your business to reach new heights
and achieve things that at one time may have felt impossible. The use of appropriate
benchmarks will keep your business sharp and allow you to compete at the top of your
game. ■
EXPLORE FURTHER . . .
For more insights from Steve
and other members of AgStar’s
Dairy Team, check out
AgStarEdge.com
S U M M E R 2014
11
AGSTAR IN ACTION | AT HOME ON THE FARM
Time to Make Your Move?
Trends in the Housing Market
I
n the home mortgage industry, business is driven by three types of transactions;
purchases, refinances, and construction loans. Traditionally, the mortgage lending
season begins in late winter/early spring and tapers around Thanksgiving. In recent
years, historically low interest rates have made home lending a year round cycle as weather,
school, or the actual act of moving typically do not matter in a refinance transaction since
the homeowner is simply trying to improve the rate and terms of their present mortgage
debt. We have seen the refinance market really shrink since last summer and believe the
pendulum will swing back toward more purchase and construction loans in the coming
months. AgStar has always been committed to all three types of transactions and is
positioned well for the future.
Construction loans on the rise
Chris Gartner is a Home Mortgage
Services Sales Manager. He has
been with AgStar since 2004.
12
A G S TA R T O D AY
Of these two stated areas of potential growth, let’s start with construction loans. Within
AgStar we have seen an uptick in home construction loans in a year-to-date comparison of
2013 to 2014, which is a positive for our industry as well as AgStar. This demand is creating
the need for more skilled labor in the areas we serve and is an indication that today’s home
owners are feeling confident enough in their own personal financial position to commit to
investing in a home for themselves. It further signals the perception of the economy is
strong enough for them to feel confident that their job is stable and/or their business is in a
good position to commit to a mortgage.
Due to the mortgage crisis we are all well aware of, home building dropped off
substantially, forcing that skilled labor into different sectors to find employment and sustain
their families. The departure of this skilled workforce and the lack of interest in the building
trades for college-aged kids have really depleted the workforce. Now with the renewed
interest in construction, homeowners are finding that it is taking longer to plan and build
their home as there is simply less skilled labor to do all the work. Currently, I would
recommend anyone interested in new construction start planning early and visit with their
lender well in advance of looking to break ground to avoid last minute stress from the lack of
proper planning.
Purchase transactions season extending
We are well into the buying season now. Historically, homeowners like to list their home in
the spring when the weather is nice so their home looks good and updates can be made if
needed. This position allows for a timely sell and the ability to buy/build in the summer
months. For families, this time frame allows them to get themselves squared away and into a
new home at or near Labor Day if they have school-aged children for the start of the new
school year. This purchase market is very competitive now as all lenders are looking to this
business to keep their pipelines full, especially if they do not offer construction loans. Our
sales philosophy has always been to continually network with realtors and other influencers
of home lending decisions to put AgStar in top-of-mind position especially if that buyer is
looking for financing in a small town and/or a rural property. Lenders across the industry
who have not committed to continually nurture this line of business have really seen a drop
off in their pipelines.
”Today’s home buyer
will notice a
difference in the
mortgage process as
compared to just a
few years ago.
Simply put it takes a
little longer to
obtain a mortgage. ”
What can today’s borrower expect?
Today’s home buyer will notice a difference in the mortgage process as compared to just a
few years ago. Simply put, it takes a little longer to obtain a mortgage. With the downfall of
the mortgage industry a few short years ago, the Dodd-Frank bill was passed in an effort to
protect the consumer from getting mortgages they cannot afford and to halt the industry
from predatory lending. A new arm of the government called the CFPB (Consumer Finance
Protection Bureau) was created as a result to help enforce this bill and monitor to make sure
the rules and regulations set forth in the Dodd-Frank bill are carried out.
As you can imagine, this is a huge undertaking. Many Americans have mortgages and, as
a result, the CFPB is the fastest growing government agency to date. A few changes
consumers may notice are: 1.) the loan originator with whom they are working needs to
have an NMLS (National Mortgage Licensing System) number; 2.) an increased emphasis on
loan disclosures gives buyers ample time to review and consider the loan they are about to
undertake; and 3.) the importance of documenting their income, assets, and liabilities to
ensure they have the ability to repay the loan.
W
e at AgStar have many things we feel good about as we look ahead. We have a
passionate and experienced team to help our clients through the home mortgage
process from start to finish. Home interest rates are still low, allowing clients to lock in longterm financing giving them peace of mind. Home values have stabilized and some areas are
starting to see appreciation again. Finally, you will not find anyone in the home mortgage
industry more committed and who places as much emphasis on client satisfaction and
client loyalty as our team of Home Mortgage Specialists. Please contact any of them to
discuss your home mortgage needs by visiting us as AgStar.com. ■
EXPLORE FURTHER . . .
Look for more insights from
Chris and others from our Home
Mortgage Services team at
AgStarEdge.com
S U M M E R 2014
13
AGSTAR IN ACTION | GIVING BACK
AgStar Announces High School Scholarship Recipients
E
ducation is a vital part of keeping the agriculture industry thriving. At AgStar, we want to empower young people to
pursue careers in agriculture. By doing so, they lay the foundation for preserving and enhancing the quality of life in rural
America for the future.
This year, the AgStar Fund for Rural America awarded $25,000 in scholarships to 25 graduating seniors within AgStar’s 69-county
service area. There were five students awarded a scholarship from each of AgStar’s five regions in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
High school seniors planning to attend colleges, universities and technical schools to pursue careers in agriculture, or who have an
agriculture background were eligible to apply for the scholarships. Students were judged based on their academic record, vocational
promise, community service and leadership qualities. Applicants were required to have a GPA of 3.0 or better.
Listed below are the students who received $1,000 scholarships this year. Congratulations to these recipients and to all graduates,
and best of luck on your future endeavors!
Trenton Arndorfer, Le Roy, MN
Parents: Patrick and Brenda Arndorfer
Northeast Iowa Community College
John Deere Technician Program
Laura Jensen, Comstock, WI
Parents: Neil and Janice Jensen
University of Minnesota- Twin Cities
Animal Science
Kendrah Schafer, Goodhue, MN
Parents: Brandon and Monica Schafer
South Dakota State University
Animal Science, Ag-Business, Accounting
Joshua Christoffer, Round Lake, MN
Parents: Dean and Andrea Christoffer
University of Minnesota
Science/Biotechnology
Samuel Johnson, Glenville, MN
Parents: David and Sandra Johnson
South Dakota State University
Agriculture Business
Austin Schmitt, Rice, MN
Parents: Mark and Natalie Schmitt
University of Minnesota
Animal Science
Valerie Earley, Wykoff, MN
Parents: James and Rachel Earley
University of Minnesota
Agriculture Communications
Hayden Kerkaert, Pipestone, MN
Parents: Barry and Karen Kerkaert
South Dakota State University
Animal Science
Christine Schwartz, Le Sueur, MN
Parents: Brian and Susan Schwartz
Bethel University
Art
Rebecca Garvey, Centuria, WI
Parents: Michael and Pamela Garvey
Minnesota State University Moorhead
Music
Kirby Krogstad, Eyota, MN
Parents: Lora Allen and Craig Krogstad
South Dakota State University
Dairy Production & Manufacturing
Gabriella Sorg, Hastings, MN
Parents: William and Juanita Sorg
University of Minnesota
Animal Science
Paige Gravenhof, Worthington, MN
Parents: Stacey and Michelle Gravenhof
South Dakota State University
Agriculture
April Lake, Boyceville, WI
Parents: Jeffery and Kelley Lake
Chippewa Valley Technical College
Agri-science Technology
Megan Struss, Courtland, MN
Parents: Paul and Mary Struss
South Dakota State University
Agriculture Business
Jenna Hartzler, Alpha, MN
Parents: Greg and Amy Hartzler
University of Minnesota- Duluth
Business Communications
Gavin Luhman, Goodhue, MN
Parents: Jon Luhman and Holly Fifield
University of Minnesota
Animal Science
Aaron Trio, Mapleton, MN
Parents: Steve and Mary Jo Trio
UW-River Falls
Agriculture Engineering
Alexus Heldt, Watertown, MN
Parents: Jodene Heldt and Stephen
Penegor
UW- River Falls
Ag-Engineering and Agriculture Education
Sara Noble, Blooming Prairie, MN
Parents: Kevin and Lisa Noble
UW-River Falls
Agri-Business & Pre-Law
Katrina Wille, Rice Lake, WI
Parents: Jeff and Debbie Wille
UW-River Falls
Animal Science
Matthew Raak, Jasper, MN
Parents: Philip and Theresa Raak
Ridgewater College
Farm Operations & Management
Katie Yorek, Little Falls, MN
Parents: Ken and Brenda Yorek
UW-River Falls
Dairy Science, Pre-Vet
Marcus Irrthum, Wanamingo, MN
Parents: John and Linda Irrthum
Carlton College
Business
14
A G S TA R T O D AY
Braden Rahn, Good Thunder, MN
Parents: Tom and Christine Rahn
South Dakota State University
Agriculture Science
AGSTAR IN ACTION | FARM LIFE
Help us share everyday moments of agriculture
AgStar’s AgShots Photo Calendar Contest
Your photo entry may appear in AgStar’s 2015 AgShots Calendar!
Entering may also earn you a $100 Visa gift card! Photo submissions
for the 2015 calendar must be received by September 1, 2014.
How it works:
• Email your pictures to [email protected]
• Include your first and last name, names of all photographed
persons and a brief description of the photo in the body of the email.
• Thirteen photos will be selected for a $100 Visa gift card each.
By submitting entries you agree to all terms and conditions found on
AgStar.com. If you have questions about the contest, please send
them to [email protected]
What to submit:
We’re looking for compelling imagery that illustrates the best of
farming and rural life in Minnesota and Wisconsin — planting,
livestock or harvest scenes; industry shots of agribusiness,
production ag, timber operations, farms; action shots in fields and
barns; seasonal photos; county fairs, 4-H or FFA events; rural
landscape and scenery; country living.
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND OFFICIAL
CONTEST RULES, CHECK OUT
AGSTAR.COM/AGSHOTS.
Star Tribune Names AgStar Financial
Services to its Top 100 Workplaces 2014
A
gStar is proud to announce they have been named one of the Top 100 Workplaces in Minnesota
based on an employee survey conducted by the Star Tribune. For the third year, AgStar was ranked
in the top ten, making the fifth spot on the large employer list this year. This marks AgStar’s fourth
time being recognized as a top employer in the state. We are so excited to receive this recognition again as it
truly reflects our team members’ opinions of our workplace!
Top Workplaces recognizes the most progressive companies in Minnesota based on employee opinions
about organizational health, job expectations and employee engagement. This analysis included responses
from over 58,600 employees at Minnesota public, private and
nonprofit organizations.
“AgStar is honored to be selected as one of the top places
to work in Minnesota,” said John Hemstock, Senior Vice
President of Brand & Talent Strategies at AgStar. “Being
recognized with such a respected group of top employers in
the state is certainly a testament to our goal of creating a
highly engaged team with a culture focused on collaboration.”
The rankings in the Star Tribune Top 100 Workplaces are
based on survey information collected by WorkplaceDynamics, an independent company specializing in
employee engagement and retention. To qualify for the top workplaces, a company must have more than 50
employees in Minnesota. Over 2,000 companies were invited to participate. Rankings were composite scores
calculated purely on the basis of employee responses. ■
S U M M E R 2014
15
15
AGSTAR IN ACTION | GOVERNANCE
AgStar names Rod Hebrink
new President and CEO
O
n behalf of the Board of Directors, I’m pleased to announce the unanimous
decision to name Rod Hebrink as President and Chief Executive Officer of AgStar.
The Board took a thoughtful approach in selecting a CEO — a process that our
stockholders, clients, partners and team members expected and deserved in finding a
successor.
In making this decision, the Board assessed key leadership expectations and evaluated
organizational succession plans. We analyzed the key criteria for this position, including:
vision and innovation; financial services leadership and business acumen; team building,
motivation and talent development; and relationship building skills. Throughout this
discussion and evaluation the Board remained committed to our mission of enhancing life in
agriculture and rural America.
Rod brings over 34 years of experience in financial services, serving as AgStar’s Chief
Financial Officer for nearly 30 years. In addition, he offers incredible leadership qualities and a
clear understanding of where AgStar has been and where we are going.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with Rod for most of my career and he’s made significant
leadership contributions to AgStar,” shared Wick Manley, AgStar’s Executive Vice President
and Chief Relationship Officer. “He thinks outside the box and proactively pursues projects
and initiatives to enhance the success of our clients, team members and the organization.”
Rod has successfully led a number of important initiatives for AgStar during his tenure
including the capital management program with preferred capital and subordinated debt,
the concept and coursework of our leadership development program and AgStar’s initial
mission-related investments initiative.
With an unwavering commitment to our clients, an incredibly strong team and
progressive, strategic leadership, the Board believes AgStar is well positioned. AgStar is a
strong, successful partner for rural America today and Rod is the right leader to continue on
this trajectory.
"I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to build on AgStar's legacy of serving the agriculture
industry," shared Rod. "Working alongside our clients and helping them achieve their goals is
a privilege. Aligned with AgStar’s values, my passion for partnering with rural America only
seems to grow over the years. Growing up on a farm in Renville, MN, I knew I’d spend my
livelihood in agriculture.
“Serving rural America, we remain committed to client service and satisfaction, team
member engagement and financial success. We have amazing clients and an incredibly
talented team. I count myself lucky to be a part of this team — a team that values our clients’
success as much as I do. I’m fortunate to lead this organization today; it’s an exciting time for
AgStar.”
As we embark on a new chapter of leadership for AgStar, we appreciate the confidence
you’ve put in us and want you to know we remain committed to maintaining the same
service and standards you’ve come to expect. AgStar is ready for this evolution — coupling
Rod’s proven leadership abilities with AgStar’s strong mission and vision; we’re incredibly
excited about what lies ahead. Thank you for continuing to put your trust in AgStar. ■
Rod Hebrink
President & CEO,
AgStar Financial Services, ACA
ABOUT ROD
As CFO, Hebrink was
responsible for the
financial operations,
capital markets,
information technology
and correspondent
lending services. Before
joining AgStar, he held
positions in corporate
agri-business banking
with Norwest and the
St. Paul Bank for
Cooperatives. Hebrink
has an Agricultural
Business Administration
degree from the
University of Minnesota.
He also received the Wall
Street Journal Award for
Academic Excellence and
completed the Graduate
School of Banking at the
University of Wisconsin,
Madison. Rod has one
daughter and he and his
wife, Carol, live in rural
Monticello.
Spencer Enninga
Chairperson of the Board
S U M M E R 2014
16
SUMMER 2014
I
hope you’ve had a chance to read the letter that came a few weeks ago from Spencer
Enninga, AgStar’s Board Chairperson, regarding my retirement. As you might imagine,
making the decision to retire was a huge step for me. I took some time off this spring to
manage through some health issues and while I was away, I had the opportunity to reflect
on a number of things, including my career at AgStar, quality of life and what I wanted to do
in the future.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate; I’ve had the chance to lead an amazing company with
unbelievable clients and team members for the last 27 years. We’ve accomplished great
things and I feel blessed. However, serving as CEO for the nearly three decades has required
significant investments of both time and energy. While health-wise I’m doing much better
and could have returned as CEO, I’ve realized this is the right time for a change in leadership.
To ensure a smooth transition, I’ll serve as Strategic Advisor to the AgStar Board and
executive leadership team over the next nine months. I’m looking forward to being part of
the AgStar team in this capacity until I officially retire April 1, 2015.
As I talk with friends and neighbors about my decision, I have yet to find someone who’s
regretted their decision to retire. Imagine that! Around me I have friends with terminal
illnesses and mobility limiting health issues that remind me to seize life while I have the
ability. For too long, I’ve been putting things off and I’m ready to refocus my energy.
While personally I’ve reached this conclusion, please know I wouldn’t have made this
decision if I didn’t believe AgStar was ready. The organization is in the perfect spot to
transition leadership to someone who will take it to the next level. AgStar is arguably in the
strongest spot in the organization’s history, positioned well in the market as an innovative
and successful financial services partner to rural America. In addition, we’ve invested great
resources to ensure our leadership is world-class and I’ll be working with them over the next
nine months to ensure a smooth transition. Overall, I’m confident AgStar is in good hands
and poised for future success.
I have nothing but admiration for this organization, its team members, board and clients.
As the longest standing CEO within the Farm Credit System, my dedication to AgStar and
our mission has never wavered. When I was interviewed by board members for the CEO
position nearly thirty years ago, in a very turbulent time for agriculture, I was asked how I
would know when AgStar was successful. My reply was that we’d have success when every
board member and team member could stand up straight, puff out their chest and say they
work for this company. With world-class client loyalty, client satisfaction and team
engagement results, I believe we’ve achieved this.
Finally, I’ve never experienced people more committed to what they do than those of you
in agriculture. To this day when I listen to Paul Harvey’s “So God Made a Farmer” speech, I
take pause as his words ring true. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to build
friendships with many of you and I’ve found great joy in watching your businesses grow and
evolve. We’ve seen good and bad times, families grow, farms change hands and operations
welcome the next generation. Regardless of what’s happened, you’ve remained steadfast in
your passion for what you do. I often wonder — if another industry was faced with the
challenges agriculture has experienced — how would they react? I think I know the answer.
You’re an impressive group.
Thank you for putting your trust in AgStar. I’m confident the organization will stay
committed to your success and the future of rural America. ■
View
from the
Field
C
by Paul DeBriyn
Strategic Advisor,
AgStar Financial Services, ACA
“The organization
is in the perfect
spot to transition
leadership to
someone who will
take it to the
next level.”
S U M M E R 2014
17
PRSRT STD
U.S. POSTAGE
PAID
OWATONNA, MN
PERMIT NO. 110
1921 Premier Drive
P.O. Box 4249
Mankato, MN 56002-4249
Contact Us
866-577-1831
AgStar.com
AgStar Financial Services is an equal
opportunity employer and provider.
© 2014 AgStar and AgStar Financial
Services are registered trademarks of
AgStar Financial Services, ACA.
All rights reserved.
Financial Ratios
How Do I Grow and Improve?
Agriculture markets are continually changing. In order to be better prepared for future
price changes, it is important to have a solid understanding of your operation’s
financial records and ratios. This class provides a basic look at key financial ratios and
indicators needed to manage your business.
Choose from six locations:
Baldwin – Wednesday, January 14, 2015
9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Waite Park – Thursday, January 15, 2015
Box lunch will be provided
Space is limited.
AgStar Office, 540 Baldwin Plaza Dr., Baldwin, WI
AgStar Office, 806 3rd Street S., Waite Park, MN
Blue Earth – Friday, January 16, 2015
AgStar Office, 1700 Giant Dr., Blue Earth, MN
Make reservations today by calling 866-577-1831.
Worthington – Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Cost is $50 per operation for Clients, $100 per operation for Non-clients.
Mankato – Wednesday, January 21, 2015
An AgStar Edge Workshop
AgStar is an offering of AgStar Financial Services, ACA.
AgStar Financial Services is an equal opportunity lender, employer and provider.
©2014 All rights reserved.
AgStar Office, 1791 Diagonal Rd., Worthington, MN
Greater Mankato Business Development Center,
Lake Washington Room, 1961 Premier Dr., Mankato, MN
Rochester – Thursday, January 22, 2015
AgStar Office, 7540 Airport View Dr. SW, Rochester, MN

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