A cooperative is an association of people united to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled organization. These principles guide High Plains Farm Credit in fulfilling our mission to support Rural America. You will find numerous examples of this commitment throughout our summer newsletter.
Thank you again for your patience and diligence as we worked together to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Before I sat down to write this newsletter article, it was my intent to avoid writing another pandemic communication. However, as I thought about your financial cooperative’s response during the height of the pandemic, it became clear to me that there are significant member advantages we should highlight.
4% FARM LOANS ARE BACK
The pandemic shocked interest rates down by more than 1.5% in roughly one month. After the 2008 financial crisis, extremely low interest rates lasted nearly seven years. This time will be different. In the 2008 financial crisis the U.S. government reacted over a period of nine months. The U.S. government’s pandemic reaction was instantaneous and the financial support package was targeted to be equivalent to the projected loss of private GDP funds during the second quarter. News and financial markets are extremely volatile, but early interest rate projections reflect these low interest rates may last for about two years.
High Plains Farm Credit staff has been extremely busy processing your interest rate conversion requests to lock in these record low interest rates. So far in 2020, we have saved our customers over $15 million in future interest expense. To accomplish this feat we will incur $1 million in 2020 expenses to buy down our CoBank debt rates, which we view as an impactful stockholder investment. Depending on the term of the loan, you may qualify for a long-term farm real estate or short-term operating note interest rate with a 5, 4 or even a 3 in front of it. When you take into account our patronage program, which lowers your effective farm debt rates by another one-percent, coupled with our ag-financing knowledge, well…it doesn’t get any better than that! I encourage you to contact your loan officer or local branch office to discuss our interest rates so we can better position your operation for the future.
WORKING WITH CUSTOMERS ON LOAN ADJUSTMENTS
Due to economic impacts caused by COVID-19 and prolonged stress in the Ag Economy, High Plains Farm Credit developed one-time payment relief programs for qualifying customers. The program is designed to give our stockholders options to retain working capital in these challenging times. So far, we have processed nearly $6 million in principal payment deferrals. This program is available for all payments due through May 1, 2021. Because of our regulations, we are only able to easily process these applications through December 31, 2020 or 60-days after the National Emergency has been cancelled, whichever comes first. More information about this program and your options are available on our website in the Products & Services section.
USDA AND SBA PROGRAM INFORMATION
Through August 28, the USDA Farm Service Agency has been accepting applications from producers with COVID-related losses for a wide range of commodities. Eligible producers will receive payments based on calculations USDA has made of national losses, multiplied by the individual producer’s documented production or sales. For more information, please go to https://www.farmers.gov/cfap.
Since we gained access to the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), we have processed over $6 million of our stockholders’ applications. For those stockholders that have a PPP loan, we know that loan forgiveness is important to you and your business. We encourage you to begin preparing now so you have what you need when you’re asked to provide documentation in support of your PPP loan forgiveness request. More information about PPP Loan Forgiveness is available on our website in the Products & Services section.
POLITICAL ADVOCACY IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT
It is election season and I encourage you to participate in the primary and the general elections. Your elected directors and management team held numerous Zoom meetings and had personal phone calls with Senator Moran, Senator Roberts and Congressman Marshall. This helped farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses get included in the PPP and EIDL programs. We have also advocated for increasing USDA payment limits, discussed the need to review livestock markets and correct origin labeling for meat products. Senator Moran, Senator Roberts and Congressman Marshall understand these concerns and are strong advocates for agriculture. Unfortunately, many coastal elites seem to hold farmers in outright disdain. I strongly encourage you to visit https://farmcredit.com/takeaction and sign up today to become an advocate for agriculture.
THANK YOU ESSENTIAL WORKERS
I’m pretty sure none of us ever thought about the term “Essential Worker” until about four months ago. As the pandemic shut down much of America’s workforce, our nation’s farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses have been hard at work producing the food and fiber we need to keep going. Rural America is comprised of folks whose days often start before sun up and don’t end until after sundown. This work was done out of faith and duty as the pandemic sent crop and livestock prices plummeting and heightened concerns over labor shortages while the health risks were mostly unknown. So, to those first responders who helped us through the pandemic and to all those in Rural America who kept our food and fiber supply strong: THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, FOR ALL THAT YOU DO!
I also would like to recognize the High Plains Farm Credit staff. They too are Essential Workers and many worked the same schedule as our customers during the pandemic. Our employees understood the world didn’t stop for our stockholders and we needed to make sure Rural America’s credit needs were met on a daily basis. To this end, our staff processed nearly 1,700 credit actions (new loans, renewals, conversions, deferments, etc.) through June-2020 compared to nearly 1,100 processed through June-2019. Thank you to our staff for the extra time and effort throughout the pandemic to help our farmers, ranchers and agribusiness during this unprecedented time and beyond.
As part of the Farm Credit System, we remain committed to stand beside you through these challenging times. Our commitment to your success is what drives High Plains Farm Credit every day. Thank you again for all that you do.
President and Chief Executive Officer