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Farmers After Hours Shares MSU Sessions on Loan Prep for New, Beginning Farmers

Photo: USDA

Farm stress is all too real and rarely discussed. Behind the scenes, many people grapple with financial, emotional, relational, mental and physical stresses.

Michigan Farm Bureau’s Farmers After Hours video interview series focuses on genuine conversations about pressing problems for people while addressing the current, rarely discussed issues in a virtual, anonymous way.

Each series begins and concludes with live panels where viewers can tune-in anonymously to ask farmers or experts questions, flanking mini sessions where topics are tackled in-depth. All components, live or otherwise, are recorded and shared on MFB’s YouTube channel for ease of access, allowing people to tune in to what is relevant to them, when and where it is convenient.

One of the participants with FAH has been Mollie Woods, director of Michigan State University’s Food Processing and Innovation Center. The center is offering a new series in effort to prepare new and beginning farmers with the tools needed to approach a lender.

Dec. 7 kicks off the series spotlighting representatives from each of three popular lenders for farmers: Greenstone Farm Credit, the USDA Farm Service Agency, and Northern Initiatives, a Michigan Good Food Fund financial partner.

Representatives from each lending organization will discuss the financial and business documents needed to begin the loan process as well as financial tips for successful repayments.

Details are as follows:


  • Noon Monday, Dec. 7: Series launch event
  • Three educational sessions featuring each lending organization listed below. Sessions will include opportunity for one-on-one “office hours” with the lenders.
  • Noon Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, hosted by GreenStone Farm Credit Services.
  • Noon Monday, Feb. 8, 2021, hosted by Northern Initiatives.
  • Noon Monday, March 8, 2021, hosted by Farm Service Agency.

WHERE: Register here – https://events.anr.msu.edu/LoanPrepforFarmers/ .

  • FOR WHO: New and beginning Farmers
  • COST: No-cost, series offered by the Michigan Good Food Fund & MSU Extension
  • DESCRIPTION: Join for the launch of the Loan Preparation for New and Beginning Farmers with panel discussions by series instructors. You’ll have an opportunity to meet your instructors and hear them discuss the background of why lending is important, basics on how to apply for loans, and stories of successful lending. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions to the series instructors.
  • BONUS: Michigan Good Food Fund mission-fit farm businesses are eligible for up to $500 to use toward accounting services (limited to 10 enterprises). If interested, apply here.

Guest speakers

  • Chris Wendel, Northern Initiatives: Chris Wendel is a business advisor with Northern Initiatives, a Community Development Financial Institution in Marquette. Northern Initiatives provides funding and assistance to businesses throughout Michigan. They are a partner in the Michigan Good Food Fund helping to bring healthy and affordable foods to our communities. Wendel has worked with hundreds of business owners in the areas of finance, marketing, and management.
  • Chad Zagar, GreenStone Farm Credit Services: Chad Zagar is the managing director for tax and accounting at GreenStone Farm Credit Services, one of America’s largest rural lenders and the country’s seventh largest association in the Farm Credit System. Zagar oversees a network of accounting experts and has lead audit, review, and consulting services throughout this career.
  • Jennifer Whitford, GreenStone Farm Credit Services: Jennifer Whitford is vice president of lending for the Alma branch.
  • Dave Russ, Farm Service Agency: Pending

Famers After Hours will return after the first of the year with the next series, “Boosting your Bottom Line.” This series will build on the financial foundation built during December’s series and dive deeper into business planning, as well as connecting individuals with grant or loan sources while explaining USDA resources and programming. Look for additional information as the series launches in January 2021.

The Farmers After Hours series is a special project of the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture, in partnership with GreenStone Farm Credit Services. The Michigan Foundation for agriculture, a 501c3 formed by Michigan Farm Bureau, has a mission of positively contributing to the future of Michigan agriculture through leadership and educational programming.