Opinion

How will farmers deal with climate change and other challenges?

As they near the end of 2021, many community ag bankers say their farm clients are feeling optimistic, but the industry isn’t entirely sunny. Farmers have long served as stewards of the natural world, and as climate change becomes a more pressing topic, they wrestle with how to respond. That’s not their only challenge, as they also face down consolidation, rising real estate prices, rate pressure, among other issues. [Continue]

#QuickTakes: Tony Repanich

Tony Repanich, president and chief operating officer of Shield Compliance, joins BankBeat publisher Tom Bengtson for an interview about the challenges and opportunities of banking the cannabis industry. [Continue]

Find talent beyond your pre-pandemic scope

Businesses across the country have reported that they are struggling to hire, and the banking industry is certainly not immune. In what has been dubbed “The Great Resignation,” this has become a reflection of the shifting priorities of employees.  In a survey by CreditKarma, 41 percent of U.S. workers are considering leaving their current job within the next six months. The current pressure that banks are feeling to hire may be only the tip of the iceberg between not being able to fill open roles and the potential that existing employees may leave.  [Continue]

Right to repair: Nerds get their revenge in the farm field

The next time you meet with one of your ag customers, please thank them on behalf of your IT department. By adding their political clout to a much broader technical issue, farmers have helped achieve a Federal Trade Commission policy breakthrough heretofore unreachable: The right to repair. If the FTC follows through properly with its new directive, this will help your perennially struggling ag customers’ bottom lines — as well as perhaps lower your bank’s computer equipment costs over time.  [Continue]

Commodity prices are good now but what about 2022?

Commodity prices — from corn to dairy — look favorable, but as farmers turn their attention to what next year holds, more than a few ag bankers see storm clouds ahead. Input costs are rising, and pandemic-era government programs are drawing to a close. Tight labor markets and other region challenges also complicate the outlook on 2022. [Continue]

Building a strategic roadmap

A lot of banks take time during October for strategic planning. If I were a banker, these are some of the things I would put on my strategic planning meeting agenda. Should we start a virtual bank? A long-established bank might not have much opportunity to grow its business footprint, so rather than defining the market by geography, maybe we define it by affinity and reach out to new customers digitally. [Continue]

Look beyond your footprint when recruiting for tech

Joe McIntyre, senior vice president with Robert Half’s technology solutions group, speaks about the difficulty banks are having filling tech positions. “We’re seeing less than a 1 percent unemployment rate for IT professionals, which is creating a real problem for banks trying to hire,” he said. “The supply and demand is really out of whack. There are simply many more jobs than there are candidates.” Digitalization efforts are driving up a demand for experienced IT professionals. [Continue]

Outlook brightens for farmers, less so for ag lenders

As they near the end of 2021, many community ag bankers say their farm clients are feeling optimistic. Commodity prices — from corn to dairy — look favorable. Low interest rates are driving the price of farmland in some areas, but expansion is an obstacle in others. Some of the sunnier projections for the coming year are partially offset by higher costs for feed, fertilizer and fuel. Farmers are hedging by locking in fertilizer prices early, and doing so with help from banks. [Continue]

Gain customers by greening up some bank products

A church in my neighborhood is holding an electric vehicle expo this month. It’s a hands-on event with test drive opportunities and a chance to visit with EV owners. The expo sign caught my eye because I’ve been seeking new ways to reduce my own carbon footprint beyond using LED light bulbs, recycling and composting, and not using the air conditioner at home except for when the dewpoint creeps into the high 60s. As it turns out, I’m not alone. [Continue]