For the last several years, the farm economy has been struggling. In 2020 alone, data from the American Farm Bureau Federation shows that prices for all major commodities have dropped between 8 percent and 42 percent.
Dave Armstrong, president and CEO of GreenStone Farm Credit Services, said that they’re here to help all types of agricultural producers face these headwinds.
“We’re used to having these kinds of up and down cycles in our industry,” he said. “Just like we’ve done with these cycles in the past, we like to sit down with each producer and look at their individual financial situation of what their plans are, what their risk management practices are and come up with an individualized, customized plan that can bridge them to better times.”
Armstrong says that Greenstone has an entire toolkit at their disposal.
“We’ve used a whole range of options from interest only for varying periods of time,” he said. “We’ve used FSA guarantees where maybe they don’t have enough collateral or their equity is a little short for us. We can shore up and protect us from further loss by using those guarantees in some cases.”
He said those are the most common services they offer. Recently under the CARES Act, production agriculture can take advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). GreenStone was a provider of PPP loans.
“We did about 1,300 loans between round one,” said Armstrong. “So far through round two, [we’ve done] about $133 million. We only opened it up to our customers because of the demand we anticipated. We’re keeping up with those applications that continue to be submitted today.”
Armstrong said GreenStone is one of the only lenders providing of the Michigan Agriculture Disaster Loan Origination Program.
“We’ve already loaned about $2 million to 14 producers on that program,” he said. “With all the other things, many producers were not aware that was available in light of so much about federal programs.”
Armstrong takes pride in the fact that GreenStone pays patronage each year to their customers.
“We paid back $100 million to producers in March from earnings we generated last year, so that significantly helped reduce their cost of borrowing,” he said.
Armstrong encourages farmers that are considering PPP to sign up while there’s still time and money available. To get in touch with Greenstone, visit their website, greenstonefcs.com.