Does Your New Ag Lender Have What It Takes?

Yes, it’s starting to happen. The veteran and baby boomer agrilenders are now starting to retire. In my seminars, those gray-haired individuals who are veterans of the Farm Crisis years are passing the torch to the cell phone-wielding, Blackberry-oriented younger generation.

Now more than ever, you as producers will have to carefully assess your agrilender to determine if he or she has what it takes. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you evaluate your lender.

First, many new faces in ag lending will not have a farm or ranch background. Rather than immediately reject them, determine whether they are quick learners who are eager to understand your industry and business.

Next, does the institution that you are dealing with have a mentor program that helps pass institutional knowledge and experiences to the next generation of lenders? If not, you may fall victim to the “brain drain” that may leave you in the cold in renewal season or an economic downturn.

Does your lender give you the chance for face-on-face time or are you “road kill” on the way to next quarter’s shareholder results?

Yes, I am talking tough in this column, but beware. A large amount of change will occur in the human side of agrilending in the next several years. Seasoned lenders will be replaced with new faces that have never experienced a major downturn in the industry.

Editors' note: Dave Kohl, The Corn and Soybean Digest Trends Editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups. He can be reached at sullylab@vt.edu

To see Dave Kohl's previous road warrior adventures type Dave Kohl in the Search blank at the top of the page.