Beginning Farmer & Rancher News

What Advice Would You Give a New Banker?

Recently a new loan officer in a small rural bank reached out to me, wondering what training I could recommend for her. It´s refreshing to get a question like that. A lender who shows curiosity in learning more about new crops or ideas is a valuable asset in a small community.

In my work with beginning farmers and veterans, I´ve observed a lot of farmer/lender interactions and thought a lot about how they could be improved. So I set forth to offer my advice to this young banker. See if you agree.

Map of My Kingdom Play Examines Farm Transitions

“Would my husband and I automatically move into town so the next generation can move in?” asked a farmer. “And what would be our plans for our farm if our children will run it as ‘absentee landlords’?”

Such questions and others filled a room in Columbus, Nebraska, one day in March. What are the decisions that farm and ranch families make around the next generation to own their land? Do these decisions strengthen the family, or cause friction and bad feelings? Are there examples or help to work through these decisions?

Supper Would Have to Wait

A day doesn’t go by when I don’t read an article or hear from some expert on the news about the importance of “making yourself a priority” and “taking care of you.” I imagine the people who come up with this stuff live a very different lifestyle than myself and others residing on a farm or ranch and in rural America.

A Policy Agenda to Support Beginning Farmers

Since the Center for Rural Affairs began, we have been engaged in the debate over who will steward the land a generation hence.

In the last two farm bills, we helped pass new policy to support beginners. Wins included training programs, set-asides within farm conservation and financing programs, and increased support for new market development. These are good building blocks for a beginning farmer policy agenda.

Despite these gains, the share of beginning farmers continues to decline. Data shows beginners are more likely to farm smaller acreages and have smaller farm incomes – sometimes much smaller.

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