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Farm Management: The Success Stories
Farm Management and Ag Lending are absolutely essential to both the farming and agriculture communities. Field & Main Bank is proud to offer hardworking farmers & agri-businesses individualized services to help them develop the life they’ve always dreamed of.
Their family is our family.
Their stories are our stories.
Throughout Doug Lawson’s extensive career in Ag Lending, Farm Management, and now as the President & COO of Field & Main, he’s managed to capture some incredible success stories.
These success stories showcase how these Farm Management services have helped shape the future and fulfilled the dreams of determined individuals hoping to support their families as farmers.
The Father and Son Tobacco Farmers
Two decades ago, there was a father and son who farmed together part-time.
They owned plenty of valuable property and had enough tobacco base to potentially turn this honest endeavor into a full-time job.
They already held full-time positions outside the farming industry.
They dreamed of being able to fully commit to their tobacco farm, but they were struggling since the operation was not structured correctly.
This failure to establish a proper debt-payment structure resulted in a struggle to actually make their payments at the end of the year.
Every single year they’d have money left on the line of credit that they couldn’t find a way to pay off. This mountain of debt continued to escalate year after year.
They felt hopeless.
They thought their farm was dead.
There was no way they’d be able to pay it all off.
There was nothing left to try.
Then the father reached out to Doug.
So Doug sat down with him, the son, and their wives. They talked through their situation. They discussed their business hardships, what they’ve been struggling to accomplish as a farm, personal lifestyles, and much more.
Through this lengthy and productive conversation, Doug strategically rebuilt a five-year plan for them to work their way out of this escalating operational debt carry over.
Cultivating the Five-Year Plan:
These farmers didn’t currently have irrigation on their crop.
Why this matters: If a farmer can utilize irrigation, especially with tobacco, they can expect a much larger return on investment. This irrigation will result in a heavier, more valuable product. The pounds that come from this process are as important as bushels. Essentially, this irrigation implementation is like a risk mitigation.
They were loaned a specific sum to install irrigation throughout their fields.
They never missed a crop during that five-year plan.
Farming for the Future
With hope, determination, and a strict adherence to the five-year plan, they climbed out of debt and have met their payments every single year.
It pays to care about your farm’s productivity.
This father and son turned a dying farm into a profitable business because they cared enough to talk about it with a banker who understood farming, finance and family.
A Word From Doug Lawson:
“We planned and executed the solution to their problem together. This was twenty years ago, and the farm is still going strong today. I actually saw the wife of one of the farmers about six months ago, and she said, ‘I’ll never forget what you did for my husband.’”
“I Don’t Know What I Owe My Bank”
Fifteen years ago, an established farmer approached Doug in a fit of worry stating, “I don’t know what I owe my bank.”
This farm was small. Very small.
In fact, this “farming enterprise” didn’t even utilize a system for accounting and operations.
He couldn’t find the promissory notes or any other kind of documentation.
However, his bank still loaned him what he said was necessary.
They didn’t perform any analysis.
If he needed money, he just borrowed it, no questions asked.
It was “money-in-money-out,” and there was no financial planning in the process.
The bank simply trusted him, because unfortunately, they also didn’t know how much he owed.
It was very “old school,” to say the least.
This farmer had operated this way throughout the entirety of the first ten years of his operation.
He was a young farmer who started from nothing, and he built his operation the way the bank let him. But through conversations and industry experience, he began to understand that a properly managed farm consists of much more than just requesting random loans from banks.
He approached Doug and said, “I just need someone I can sit down and talk to.”
Doug met this worried but determined farmer at a Cracker Barrel on a Saturday morning for four hours. The farmer brought along his “dusty trusty shoebox” that acted as his money management system.
This is where the whole relationship started.
After their conversation, Doug came to the conclusion that this virtuous farmer was simply unfamiliar with business practices as a whole and just didn’t understand his farm’s “numbers.” He was operating at the level that the bank was expecting him to, which was low.
This small town bank was struggling to provide a higher level of service, as they had limited experience with Ag Lending and Farm Management prior to his account. Naturally, this scared the farmer. He had young kids, and he needed to be 100% sure he would be okay.
Doug understood. So he raised the bar and said, “Well, if we’re going to do business, then we’re going to have to get you on a proper analysis. We’ll also give you better accounting.”
The farmer had no idea if he was actually making any money or not.
So Doug and the farmer worked together to figure out exactly how much he owed, how much annual profit he was making, and what return on investment he needed to support his family and live comfortably.
Through this lengthy and educational conversation, he learned how to run his business properly and was able to support his family for decades to come.
A Word From Doug Lawson:
“I’m proud to say that he’s still farming today and has doubled the size of his operations.
It was that meeting at Cracker Barrel where we developed the plan to grow his farm and helped it become profitable enough to support his loved ones the way he needed to.”
Field & Main: A Focus on Farming & Family
Both of these farms could have died that day.
They were both scrambling for alternative ways to pay off their debt instead of analyzing their agricultural enterprise at a deeper level.
Doug and these farmers were able to dig in deep and made sound decisions together as a partnership.
Both farms are knocking it out of the park today, and it’s all due to collaborative effort between bank and borrower.
A success story doesn’t happen overnight. It can take years and years.
But sometimes you just need to talk to someone who understands.
At Field & Main, we’re here to help define the “Why” to help you establish and grow your agricultural enterprise.
If you have questions about the sustainability or productivity of your farm and would like to discuss your lending options, contact Daniel Smith, Field & Main’s Commercial Loan Officer & Farm Management Administrator.
NMLS # 469932
We’d love to lend an ear.