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For nearly 100 years Farm Credit has been assigned the responsibility of providing “staying power” to agriculture by serving as a dependable and constructive source of capital and financial services to farm families – in good times and bad. 

This “staying power” is most evident when a crisis hits the financial sector, as it did in 2008, diminishing the lending capacity of many financial institutions and causing lines of credit to be reduced or eliminated. Through it all, Farm Credit was there without disruption to its ongoing commitment to members and Illinois agriculture.

For the past 10 years most agricultural risks taken were rewarded and decisions to leverage financial statements well-warranted. It was the opportunity of a lifetime to bring family members back into the farming operation. Many members increased their net worth and working capital during the super-cycle of strong farm earnings, which allowed them to prepare for this new reality that is beginning to set in. Commodity prices have fallen while input costs, land prices, and cash rents remain high. These factors are creating tight margins, to say the least.

 Volatility in agriculture is not unusual. With today’s world economy greatly affecting U.S. agriculture, it is more volatile than ever. The recent reduction in the cash grain margins has changed the game; decisions today will be more critical than those during the super-cycle, requiring a new level of expertise and trust between a borrower and lender. 

These times call for a lender with “staying power” and the capability to provide constructive credit which allows operators to achieve their goals while maintaining a positive cash flow. This doesn’t necessarily mean a restructuring or rolling of debt, because a return to considerably higher commodity prices would be required to survive if this rolling of debt does not result in a positive cash flow.

Farm Credit Illinois has a core purpose of Helping Farm Families Succeed. Working together can minimize the impact of the low margins and maximize your ability to take advantage of opportunities both today and when higher margins return.

Having honest, open, and timely communication with your loan officer and engaging in crucial conversations to explore action-oriented solutions may help strengthen the financial foundations of your farming operation. By reacting to the current margins and making adjustments today, more difficult decisions can be avoided in the future.

Of course, being concerned and nervous when confronted with tight or negative margins is a normal reaction. As a cooperative, FCI is committed to members’ success and looks forward to working with individual operations to provide the support and information needed to alleviate concerns and assist in making the best decisions.

As Farm Credit celebrates its centennial, FCI employees are proud to serve members and carry the flag for all of those who came before us. A truly amazing cooperative was built by the dedicated members serving on the board of directors, the passionate Farm Credit staff, and our loyal member-borrowers over the past century. Today, we remain focused on Helping Farm Families Succeed. FCI has worked side-by-side with generations of families to provide the necessary capital to fund the production that has led to amazing success and a rewarding way of life. We look forward to the next 100 years, and to being here in both the good and challenging times. Staying power; it is a truly remarkable gift.