Loan assistance, ag business planning provided
“It’s been a tough year and a half,” said First Interstate Bank’s Market President of South Central Wyoming Victor Robbins. “As community bankers, we do as well as our community does, so we want to make sure we are doing whatever we can to help our businesses and the producers in the area grow.”
Robbins shared information on how First Interstate Bank worked proactively to provide assistance to their clients through tough times in matching assistance to agricultural and business clients, as well as information related to ag markets and banking relationships.
Throughout the last year, First Interstate Bank has loaned nearly $1.7 billion in Payroll Protection Program (PPP) funding, and though the time period for these funds is dispensed, Robbins shared the bank works in conjunction with other risk partners, such as the Small Business Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture and state-led programs specific to Wyoming.
“The PPP loans made a huge impact in our local economies, and we are currently working through the forgiveness process with them now,” Robbins said. “Frankly, I think without the PPP loans, we could have seen some really sad situations and there could have been many business catastrophes.”
“I am really glad we were able to be proactive and help our clients out,” he added. “There were some large dollar amounts going to producers that were used to heal up their balance sheets and pad their working capital.”
Looking into the future, Robbins said First Interstate Bank continues to look closely at any funding opportunities for their clients and makes sure assistance programs are utilized when possible.
Currently, Robbins noted, there are multiple opportunities for growth in many agricultural markets in Wyoming,
“Some commodity prices are very high right now, and they’re trending upwards,” he shared. “For example, due to the drought, we are seeing huge opportunities with hay prices, so there is some economic opportunity there for hay producers.”
Robbins continues, “On the flip side, we will probably see cattle producers cull their herd down because feeding high-dollar hay is cost prohibitive, especially as some cattle producers could make more money selling their hay.”
The drought has had a huge impact, Robbins noted, and he encourages producers to pay special attention to markets.
In addition, Robbins shared many of First Interstate Bank’s ag clients have seen great success by taking advantage of market trends, such as farm-to-table initiatives, direct marketing, farmers’ markets, etc.
“For bankers and lenders, as we work with our ag producers, it’s a really special partnership and relationship,” Robbins said. “One of the things we work closely with our clients on is the planning and budgeting process of production, including cost controls and other measures.”
He continued, “We spend a lot of time on the front end of the year going over what occurred last year, where opportunities to improve are and what the wins of the last year were.”
Robbins said it is important to his team to add value to relationships between the ag lender and the producer with open and honest conversation.
“There’s a lot of good things going on, and there are always challenges – especially in the ag community – but through good partnership with ag producers, and looking at what is trending upwards in the market, everybody wins.”
Averi Hales is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.