Farm Credit Services of America (FCSAmerica) has built financial strength to ensure we are a reliable lender when farmers and ranchers need us most. That time is now.
COVID-19 altered every aspect of our lives as it spread across the globe. The impact to U.S. agriculture was swift, affecting livestock, dairy and the ethanol industries particularly hard from the outset. Grain producers, who have been managing several years of uncertainty and volatility, went into spring planting facing even more challenges.
How agriculture fares in 2020 will be determined largely by factors beyond the control of producers. FCSAmerica is committed to providing the certainty agriculture needs to help navigate the impact of COVID-19.
As the pandemic moved into our four-state area, we took immediate steps to do our part to contain the spread of the virus while continuing to serve customer-owners. The investments we have made in technology enabled us to keep credit flowing as we adhere to social distancing recommendations. We have remained open for business – sometimes in new ways – throughout the year.
Unfortunately, many businesses can’t operate at full or even partial capacity in this environment. Some of our customer-owners have seen both on-farm and off-farm income decline. To provide economic relief, we are leveraging our financial strength to defer loan payments for customers, which helps to ease cash flow needs and preserve working capital.
We’ve also helped more than 2,300 customers access small business loans under the Paycheck Protection Program. We’ve also provided information to customers regarding the direct payments available under USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
The current interest rate environment has been one of the few bright spots for agriculture. We anticipate rates will remain favorable for the foreseeable future. This has been important not only for those producers seeking cost savings but also for those positioned for growth. As challenging as today is for agriculture, better days will come.
I and others in the Farm Credit System are talking to lawmakers on a regular basis to ensure they understand the challenges producers face and the policies needed to keep food moving through the supply chain. FCSAmerica is your financial cooperative, and we are advocating for rural communities and agriculture.
Before I close, I would like to draw attention to the most recent FCSAmerica election. The value of customer-owners electing fellow producers to govern FCSAmerica is evident in your Association’s commitment to support both agriculture and rural communities through this unprecedented time. In December, your Board approved a 2020 patronage program. It is yet another commitment from your financial cooperative that you can depend on. The Board will set the patronage amount in December for distribution in early 2021.
All of us at FCSAmerica sincerely appreciate your business and are working hard on your behalf.
President and CEO