By Todd Borchardt, Choice Bank Chief Ag Credit Officer
When it comes to farming and agribusiness, the business itself is about as predictable as the weather in North Dakota. With over 26,000 farmers and ranchers across North Dakota, Choice Bank recognizes farming as a livelihood and the unpredictability of operating a farm.
Since 2011, we’ve been recognized as one of the top-performing agricultural lenders by the American Bankers Association. Much of our success in the ag industry is due to our commitment to innovation. It is absolutely critical that we keep pushing innovation to move agricultural lending into the future with new applications and services to best serve farmers and ranchers.
The Problem with Traditional Banks
The traditional banking experience of filling out piles of paperwork and waiting around for a loan to be approved needs to evolve for farmers and ranchers so they can succeed in today’s fast-paced world. Historically, the ag banking process consists of the following steps:
- Farmers enter the bank and fill out paperwork to apply for the loan.
- They wait for the underwriting, deliberating, approval conditions, documentation and receiving of the loan.
In farming, timing is everything. Farmers don’t want to spend the time they don’t have waiting for their loans to be approved when they need to be focused on managing the farm. The farm is their livelihood, and the world relies on them and the crops they produce.
A particularly important asset for ag banking is to leverage your team’s local experts. We allocate tremendous decision-making authority to our branch-level leaders and trust the folks in those chairs. This significantly speeds up the loan-making process. With an ag leadership team that’s very geographically spread out, we can expertly identify and address unique local needs across multiple regions.
Evolution of Input Financing
Choice Bank offers several traditional ag solutions from seasonal operating loans, equipment financing and leasing, livestock purchasing options and more. Our new Ag Supplier Financing Program creates a customized plan and cost structure for ag retailers and agronomy centers that specifically meets their needs. We built an online experience for producers applying for retailer credit accounts that is extremely simple. From application to signing their loan docs, it can all be done from a smartphone or tablet in the seat of their tractor. There is great value in providing a crucial form of capital they need in a quick convenient format.
While this Ag Supplier Financing Program is exclusive to retailer-based credit needs today, we see this as the direction more traditional ag lending products will trend in the future. There is major innovation happening in agriculture and we’re making sure the financing piece of that environment isn’t left behind.
Our programs were born from listening to farmers and those agribusiness partners and working to solve their finance-related problems and serve their needs managing day-to-day operations.
Pairing Solutions With Experience
We have an agriculture expert in every corner. Many of our team members have either grown up on a farm or have experience working in agriculture or agribusiness. I, myself, spent my youth working on farms and know what it’s like to work in the field from dawn to dusk. We apply the lessons we’ve learned to help provide better solutions for the next generation of farmers.
When you work with our seasoned experts, you are much more than just a business transaction. Farmers come to us for advice and guidance, meaning bankers often become a counselor of sorts, providing knowledge, tools and resources for farmers and ranchers to operate successfully.
By simplifying the lending process, we put the customer first and live out our #PeopleFirst motto. We are constantly asking for and receiving feedback from farmers about their experience working with us and we continue making the process as efficient and farmer-friendly as possible.
The customer is the top priority. Being a #PeopleFirst ag lender means we pay close attention to a product or service, and the experience from start to finish. How the customer reacts today influences how we respond, innovate, and lead our industry and company into the future.
For more information on ag solutions or to find a Choice Bank ag expert near you, click here.