The Passing of a President

Last year between speaking engagements, I drove through Dixon, IL, home of former President Ronald Reagan. One of the advantages of travel, other than great airline food (Ha-Ha!), is that I get to see where important people lived in their youth.

Recently, as I was watching the sunset in California at President Reagan’s funeral on television, my thoughts came back to the part he played in agricultural finance.

He was President as we experienced the farm financial crisis of the 1980s. He appointed the Farm Financial Standards Task Force, now named the “Council.” I was very fortunate to facilitate his task force comprised of dedicated agricultural professionals such as employees of Farm Credit and the FSA, bankers, accountants, producers, regulators and academics.

Nearly fifteen years later, we are experiencing the benefits of his vision and ability to take a lemon in the farm crisis and turn it into lemonade. Today we have much more standardization in financial statement formatting. The “sweet sixteen” ratios are now a standard cliché in the agricultural finance field, and are used by lenders and producers alike. More recently, lenders, producers and academics are using powerful databases with financial benchmarking, as well.

Whether you liked the man or not, you can still say he was a person of conviction, could relate to the common man, and always attempted to try and find the positive side of a tough situation. Without the adversity of the farm financial crisis, the farm financial standards would have never been established.

NBA Finals

  • Isn’t it amazing what teamwork a defense can do in winning championships?
  • The quality of NBA play has really been reduced since they let high school ball players enter the draft.

My e-mail address is:sullylab@vt.edu

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.

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

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