Archive for the ‘ Agriculture ’ Category

The Farm Economy

combine and field

As the seasons change, so comes another harvest nearing an end. After harvest, many farmers will start to compile their farm records, perform year-end tax planning and plan for the upcoming year. The farm economy has seen its share of challenges and farmers continue to search for ways to remain viable after multiple years of declining profitability.

On Thursday, January 18, 2018, Citizens Bank Minnesota is hosting a seminar with nationally known speaker, Dr. Michael Boehlje, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Agricultural Economics and the Center for Food and Agricultural Business at Purdue University. He previously held faculty and administrative positions at Iowa State University, University of Minnesota and Oklahoma State University. Dr. Michael Boehlje has devoted his career to helping farm and agribusiness managers and policymakers understand the pragmatic economic and financial consequences of their decisions.

The fundamental focus of his work has been to integrate concepts of economics, finance and strategy to solve problems of farm and agribusiness managers. A major theme of Dr. Michael Boehlje’s research, writing and lecturing for the past 10 years has been the importance of strategic planning and thinking, and positioning the firm for long term viability and success.

The following are a few of his recommendations he calls “Elements of Best in Class”:

1. Intense Cost Control
-Efficiency/productivity is critical
-Know your cost components per unit sold

2. Margin Management
-Know your costs of production
-Know your margins

3. Execution
-Timely operations
-Details, details, details

4. Buying Right
-Compare supplier offers
-Consider repairing rather than replacing

5. Managing Operating Risk
-Technology performance –pest control, fertility effectiveness/loss, seed selection
-Marketing/pricing of inputs and products
-Government programs and crop insurance participation

6. Debt/Capital Management
-Maintain working capital
-Reduce capital expenditures
-Don’t surprise your lender

7. Simplification/Automation
-Complexity creates confusion/mistakes

8. Do Fewer Things Better
-What is your hedgehog –what do you do better than anyone else?
-Focus and intensify

9. Data Management
-Collect efficiently
-Capture the insights
-Think carefully

Citizens understands the uncertainties of agribusiness and can help you plan your operation throughout the year.

We look forward to seeing you at our upcoming seminar featuring Dr. Michael Boehlje! Watch for more information about the seminar coming out soon!

By: Scott Tauer, Vice President – Loan Officer

https://ag.purdue.edu/commercialag/Pages/Faculty-Staff/Boehlje.aspx

“THE FARM ECONOMY AND THE FUTURE OF AG LENDING” by Michael Boehlje
Center for Commercial Agriculture, Purdue University and Senior Associate Centrec Consulting. West Lafayette, Indiana, August 7, 2017.

Equal Housing Lender - larger

Harvest Safety – Part 2 of 2

TRACTOR AND SUNSETAvoid Harvesting Hazards. Know the drill. Knowing how to identify hazards is only the first step. Once you identify them, you have to learn to manage them safely or avoid them altogether. Stop and think about possible hazards while you’re operating the equipment. Be alert. Ask questions. Here are a few serious harvesting hazards to avoid:
• Avoid entanglement. Every combine or baler gets a plugged intake area occasionally. This area is also known as a pull-in point, and it can grab you in an instant. To avoid entanglement:
− Operate the equipment with care and attention.
− Ensure all protective guards and shields are securely in place.
− Clear plugged equipment only after the power is turned off and the key is in your pocket.
− Don’t overestimate your ability to react – entanglement injuries happen very quickly.
− Decrease the incidence of plugged machines through regular maintenance, late-season
weed control, and by operating during optimal conditions.
− In wet field conditions, wait a few hours or an extra day, if possible, to reduce plugging.
− If you must harvest in marginal conditions, expect crops to plug the equipment and allow extra time to unplug it.

• Don’t slip up. Most people recognize the entanglement hazard. Few realize that many more injuries are related to slips and falls around farm machines. During an average workday, you might have to mount and dismount from the combine dozens of times. The top of an average combine is 12 to 16 feet high. The operator’s platform is usually 6 to 8 feet high. Falls from these heights can cause serious injuries. If you are fatigued or careless, the likelihood of a fall dramatically increases.

Then there’s the slip factor. Ladders and platforms are often painted metal. They’re
slippery in normal conditions – treacherous when wet, muddy, icy or coated in crop
residue.

To prevent painful falls:
− Keep platforms free of tools or other objects.
− Clean ladders, steps and platforms regularly.
− Wear well-fitting, comfortable shoes with non slip soles.
− Use the grab bars when mounting or dismounting.
− Find a stable position from which to refuel or perform maintenance.
− Use three points of contact when getting in or out of machinery – one hand/two feet or
two hands/ one foot.
− Don’t underestimate the impact of fatigue, stress, drugs, alcohol, or age on your stability.

The Last Word
Harvest is a productive time. The pressure may be exhilarating, but it also creates serious stress. This can only mean one thing: an increased risk of injury. To prevent injury and reap the benefits of the harvest you’re working so hard at; take responsibility for your own safety. Injuries happen when you take shortcuts in performing routine tasks, work while mentally or physically fatigued, or fail to follow safety guidelines.

Article Courtesy Of: Fairmont Farmers Mutual Insurance Company

Investment and Insurance products:

  • Are Not Insured by the FDIC or any other federal government agency
  • Are Not deposits of or guaranteed by a Bank or any Bank Affiliate
  • May lose value

Safety Up! – On Harvest Safety

TRACTOR AND SUNSET
(Part 1 of a 2-Part Post)
Harvest is hectic. Racing daylight and rain clouds can be seriously stressful. Time means money when yields are at risk. As a result, harvest is the peak season for agriculture-related injuries and fatalities.

When you’re in a rush, it’s tempting to bypass simple safety procedures that might slow you down. But taking the extra time can be a lifesaver. So ease up. Take responsibility for your own safety. Get trained for each new task before you get started. Be alert for hazards and figure out how to manage them – remove any unnecessary risks ahead of time, and learn to manage the risks that can’t be removed. Know the job. Know the hazards. Know the drill.

Get the equipment ready. The majority of severe farm tragedies involve machinery. Make sure yours is in good working condition. Be sure pre-season maintenance and repairs are handled several weeks before harvest. Also make sure you are in good condition. You take pride in your ability to work long and hard. You’re happy to burn the midnight oil in pursuit of a goal – in this case, a successful harvest. The reality is that fatigue, drowsiness and illness contribute to field mishaps. To ensure you’ll be around to see the last of the grain go into the bin, get plenty of sleep. Take regular breaks. Wear comfortable, close fitting clothing and sturdy, protective shoes. When you do field work, always let someone know where you are and check in regularly.

Little Person Alert. Keep children safely away from farm machinery, including grain
transportation equipment. Tragedies occur far too easily when children end up in the path of equipment from which the operator’s view is restricted.

Big, Mean Harvesting Machines. Know the hazards. Harvesting equipment is designed to cut, pull and separate things, and it does so very effectively. Unfortunately, it won’t discriminate between you and the crop. Get caught in its clutches and you could be tangled, wrapped, pulled, run over, cut up or worse. Learn about the dangers ahead of time so you can avoid them while you’re in the field. When you’re working, slow down and think about the potential hazards of each new task before you begin.

How Quick are You? At 1000 RPM, a PTO shaft will entangle at four yards per second. An average measured reaction time on an adult male is about .2 seconds. So by the time you react to the pull of the PTO, it has already pulled you or your clothing almost a yard. Guards anyone?

Article Courtesy Of: Fairmont Farmers Mutual Insurance Company

Investment and Insurance products:

  • Are Not Insured by the FDIC or any other federal government agency
  • Are Not deposits of or guaranteed by a Bank or any Bank Affiliate
  • May lose value

Watch for Part 2 of this blog to be posted next week!

 

2017 Spring Planting

spring planting

Well it’s that time of the year again! Spring is a very busy time – planters are out of the shed, and farmers are eager to put the seed in the ground.  They are trying to get a lot of acres planted in a short amount of time, putting long hours in.  Please remember to slow down and be safe out there.

With April 11th past us, farmers will have full crop insurance coverage and replant coverage for their 2017 corn crop, as that date is the earliest date RMA allows farmers to plant corn to receive replant coverage. (April 21st is the earliest planting date for soybeans to receive full crop insurance coverage and replant coverage.) The 2” soil temperature read 50 degrees at the University of Minnesota Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca, MN on April 14, 2017, which is the temperature it takes to germinate corn seed.  With the wet forecast that is predicted farmers are going to be chomping at the bit to get into the field any chance they get.  Keep in mind that it can take three weeks for corn to germinate at 50-55 degrees soil temperature and only 10-12 days at 60 degrees.  That being said, try to be patient and not mud in your crop.

July 15th is the acreage reporting deadline for crop insurance.  I know this sounds like a long time away, but with planting and then spraying, the time slips away from you.  Please remember to go to the FSA offices and certify your acres first. Then bring your FSA 578’s to your crop insurance agent to report your acres.

When you’re sitting in the planter, it gives you a lot of time to reflect on your farming operation.  Now is the time to evaluate planting, spraying, or harvesting equipment, whether it needs replacing or upgrading to be more successful.  Coming off of a wet fall reminds us where we may have drainage problems in our fields.  Well drained fields play a huge factor in your crop yields, determines the planting conditions in spring and the ease of harvesting the crop in the fall.  Every operation is different.  Take the time this summer and sit down with your lender to determine the feasibility, the debt service, and pay back of your projects/purchases.  We always work hard to put together the best loan package that fits your needs.

Nobody knows what Mother Nature will bring us this year, but here’s to a safe and productive 2017!

By: Nick Peterson, Asst. Vice President

Investment and Insurance products:

  • Are Not Insured by the FDIC or any other federal government agency
  • Are Not deposits of or guaranteed by a Bank or any Bank Affiliate
  • May lose value

‘Grey hair’ in agriculture: Opportunities in the making

farmers silhouette

It is no mistake that grey hair is becoming more and more common in the agricultural industry these days. Grey hair normally suggests a particular stereotype, but it can also be viewed as an opportunity.

The average age of the Minnesota farmer, as reported in the 2012 census, was 56.6 years of age, with 52 percent of farmers being over 55 years of age. It is most likely that, as farm numbers decrease and farm size increases, the average age of a Minnesota farmer will also increase.

As we see the average age of the Minnesota farmer climb, we also see the same situation in the industries that service and work with farmers. Do you know an ag lender or seed dealer with grey hair? Most likely the answer is yes.

The aging population in agriculture opens the door for opportunity. There are opportunities for knowledge transfer, relationship building, as well as networking. The agricultural industry as a whole is rapidly transitioning and changing. This alone opens the door for many opportunities between generations.

The hot topic when it comes to the aging population in agriculture is “Transition Planning.” This topic has been coming up more and more, not only on farms, but also in every other agricultural service industry. When it comes to transition planning, it normally doesn’t happen overnight-and it can have some growing pains. It is most likely that the transition includes a Baby Boomer (age 55-71) and a Gen X’er (age 35-55) or Millennial (age 18-35).

We can see the transitions happening right in New Ulm and all of southern Minnesota. Most businesses and farming operations have an older generation and, potentially, a younger generation working side by side. This is not a new dynamic; this has been the case with every generation in every decade. The difference today is that the generations seem so much more separated in the way they go about business and adapting to technology.

The “Grey Hair” Baby Boomer generation has the opportunity to learn from the younger generation, be it in technological efficiencies or an openness to try something new. The younger generations have so much to learn from the older generation, as well. The transfer of knowledge about “The 80’s,” budgeting, negotiations, best practices, and anything in between can create an environment for opportunity and growth.

When it comes to agricultural lending, farming, and many other agricultural related industries, it is hard to teach a new person everything they will need to know in a matter of a few months. It can take years. Early planning and patience is essential for a smooth transition.

An example where transition planning is opening opportunities is right here at Citizens Bank Minnesota. All four of the bank’s branches-New Ulm, Lafayette, La Salle, and Lakeville-have been looking ahead and noticed there is a lot of “Grey Hair” between the clients and the lenders. In each of the branches, there are lenders that have been working alongside the same clients for many, many years.

Citizens saw this as an opportunity and-within the past seven years-has added at least one younger lender to each of the branches to begin the transition and transfer of knowledge. The relationships that exist between the “Grey Hair” lender and most of their clients often run deep and go back many years. Citizens recognized this and started bringing in the younger lenders to build their own relationships with these clients and their second generation years before the retirements were planned. This has been a successful strategy. It gives the farming clients comfort and knowledge that their lending relationship will continue and prosper.

Citizens is very excited about the opportunities in agriculture and is dedicated to the farming community.

By: Rose Wendinger, Assistant Vice President

“‘Grey hair’ in agriculture: Opportunities in the making” published in The Journal
31 Mar 2017: B3

Preventing Farm Equipment Accidents

Tractor & planterThe time is coming when farmers are getting geared up for planting season. They are getting all of their farm equipment ready and will be rolling into the fields very soon. What are some things that motorists can do to prevent an accident with a farm tractor/farm truck on the road and what can farmers do to help prevent accidents.

As motorists, we need to be aware and stay aware that the farmers will be on the roads in the next few months and will be very busy. Here are some recommendations that can help prevent accidents with these farmers:

  • When approaching a tractor/farm truck on the road, we should slow down and be attentive to what they are doing and where they may be turning.
  • We should be patient and safely pass the farm equipment; do not follow the farm equipment too closely.
  • Do not pull out in front of farm equipment as they are carrying heavy loads and cannot stop quickly.
  • Be a defensive driver and pay attention to your surroundings and to what others are doing.

Some recommendations for farmers during this busy season and while traveling from farm site to farm site are:

  • Inspect all farm equipment before use and before taking it out on the road to make sure everything is mechanically sound.
  • Mount Slow Moving Vehicle signs on all tractors, combines and other farm equipment that is necessary to notify other motorists.
  • If traveling during the night, verify that you have working headlights and flashing front and rear warning lights.
  • Do not travel left of the center of the road after dark, during poor visibility and/or when approaching the top of a hill or a curve.

We all need to take added precautions when on the road, but we need to remember that this time of year is busier for farmers and we need to be aware of this and to be defensive drivers.

By: Nick Hage – Citizens Agency Manager/Insurance Agent

Investment and Insurance products:

  • Are Not Insured by the FDIC or any other federal government agency
  • Are Not deposits of or guaranteed by a Bank or any Bank Affiliate
  • May lose value

Citizens Bank Minnesota hosts Ag Seminar

Citizens Bank Minnesota hosted an Ag Seminar at the Best Western Plus, in New Ulm, on the morning of January 12, 2017. With over 200 participants, the topic of the event was “Positioning for Success”. Senior Vice President Tim Hoscheit welcomed the participants and thanked everyone for coming, speaking briefly about Citizens Bank Minnesota and its commitment to agriculture. Next, Vice President Kevin Yager introduced the Keynote Speaker, Dr. David Kohl.

Dr. Kohl, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA, captivated the audience with Global and National outlooks and statistics. He addressed global economic trends and what to watch for in the major trade countries. Dr. Kohl also addressed the national concern with the agricultural economy. He noted that some of the adjustments the top half of producers are making include cutting rent and input costs by $50/acre along with implementing marketing and risk management programs along with diversifying income streams. Health care and insurance cost concerns were discussed as a major expense for most farm families along with the general need to monitor all family living expenses. Dr. Kohl spoke on the trend of millennials in the workplace and farming operations. The need to implement innovation and technology for the sake of efficiencies was discussed as well as the need for “knowledge transfer”. With as many as 21% of American farms not having a next generation to carry out business, the need for transition planning is great. Dr. Kohl suggested getting the next generation active in the business planning early on, working with the 4 cornerstones of success: Planning, Strategizing, Monitoring, and Executing.

Vice President Duane Laffrenzen introduced the next speaker, David Scheibel, from Minnesota West Ag Services. David is a grain marketing consultant offering brokerage and accounting services. With the USDA January reports coming in just minutes before David spoke, he was able to give a brief analysis of the results and the projected outcomes for the 2017 crop year. He spoke on trends, costs and breakevens, as well as risk management options for the upcoming marketing year.
The 2017 Ag Seminar was a great success!

By: RoseAnn Wendinger, Assistant Vice President

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