What about checked out the “Who we are” section on a website? What do all of these things have in common? They pull the audience in from the beginning and introduce them to the people behind the product.
As an agricultural lender for more than 25 years, rarely do I receive a farm history/operation description with an application. Not only would it speed up the credit process, but it could also have an impact on whether or not the loan is approved. I always try to go meet with applicants to get a feel for who they are and how they got to where they are in their operation, but not all lenders make that effort. Some may make their decision based solely on the numbers on the financials. A well written farm story will answer a lot of questions for your lender. I always hear “I’ve been using the same bank and lender for years and they know my operation.” Lenders retire, banks get bought or merge. Things happen, and more than likely it will happen at the worst possible time for your operation. Be prepared for the unavoidable. If nothing else, think about it as a legacy for your children.
Think about your farm’s story in three sections. First, tell your reader how the operation got to where it is today; second, what does it look like today; and third, what are your goals for the operation.
If your operation includes more than you and your spouse, it is important that you also include a list of each of the entities and individuals that make up your operation. Include members, stockholders, and officers in each of the entities and their percentage of ownership. Also discuss what the entities role is in the overall operation. For example: Entity A owns the farm ground and rents it to Entity B who is the operating entity.
This may seem like a lot of work, and it could take some time up front, but once it is done, it won’t take much time to keep it updated on an annual basis. Chances are, if you are applying for a new loan you are going to get these questions anyway, so why not provide them up front?
The important thing is that you are the one that tells Your Story and it isn’t left for someone else to interpret. If the farm has been in your family for 100 years, Your Story should be told. If you bought the farm yourself and your net worth is all earned, Your Story should be told.
Kathy Daily is the Managing Director of First Financial Bank’s Farm and Ranch Division. Mrs. Daily has been an agricultural lender for over 25 years.