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Renewal Season: Preparation for 2021
Business Banking

Renewal Season: Preparation for 2021

Joe Ulwelling

Joe Ulwelling
Chief Lending Officer

Anyone who says farming is easy and without its challenges has never spent a day on an actual farm. 

Let’s think back to 2019, the year that would never end. Fall conditions delayed harvest in many areas well into 2020. Falling numbers became a term very familiar to every wheat producer. Trade wars and negotiations of multinational trade agreements lead to uncertainty in the commodity markets. There were new government programs to become familiar with, such as Market Facilitation Program (MFP). Simply surviving 2019 was a success. 

Onto 2020, the optimism was widespread. ‘Can’t be worse than the prior year’. Then COVID emerged and caused major disruptions to supply chains and everyday life. Learning how fragile the supply chain really is was eye opening for everyone from consumer to producer. Like 2019, there were some regional weather challenges. There were areas with excessive moisture early and too dry later. Top end yield was looking possible for many, but dry conditions kept most farmers from achieving their potential. There was massive government spending on programs designed to help small business owners and farmers alike - programs such as the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). 

Never in my time, has a Small Business Administration (SBA) program been available to farmers. There was a rush to make it and ensure funds wouldn’t run out. Every banker in the US was up nights and weekends helping their customers qualify for SBA loans that would be forgiven if utilized to cover existing payroll. 

If there was some light at the end of the tunnel, it was most definitely the commodity markets. No one can blame a farmer that was excited to see $9 beans and sold some, only to see it continue to climb up to $10 and beyond. Farmers have said it for decades, they would much rather have trade than aide. Much of the US corn and bean supply was heading overseas – a welcomed site for every farmer that found projecting a profit in the past few years becoming more difficult. 2021 is upon us and it feels comforting now to see potential profit. 

Some helpful tips for 2021 renewal season. 

  • Financial Reporting – Timely and accurate reporting is important for you and your banker to evaluate and make plans for all your needs. 
  • Tax Preparation – Be in touch with your accountant. New programs (PPP, EIDL, MFP 2, CFAP 1 & 2) have resulted in the IRS addressing various programs in different ways. Tax professionals must be relied upon to make sound decisions as it relates to your operation. 
  • Crop Plan – Have a plan for 2021 and possibly beyond. At which price or time will you lock in some 2021 production? Have you looked at prepaying or locking some inputs? What is land rent doing in your region? 
  • Capital Purchase Plan – Write down a list of items that are needs and wants. Prioritize that list and identify which provide a good ROI. Discuss these with your banker. Moving forward into a new year with a capital purchase plan is very important. 
  • Mental Health – COVID is real and has had a major impact on our society. Mental health for all of us, farmers and non-farmers, is important and we need to spend time each day focusing on staying healthy.

We wish you a prosperous 2021 and thank you for your continued trust in Border Bank. It is our pleasure to service such a talented and respected farming community.


About Joe: 

Along with being the Chief Lending Officer at Border Bank, Joe is also a farmer and family man. Joe, and his brother Matt, farm nearly 1,400 acres of soybeans, spring wheat, and ryegrass near Warroad, Minn. Read more about Joe in this feature story on the Hefty Seed blog.

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