It’s harvest season in Central Illinois, and I’m happy to get a chance to showcase the hard work, dedication, and innovation that powers our local farming communities. My role allows me to closely connect with agricultural businesses like Platinum Ag Group, LLC and help them plan for financial success.  Platinum Ag is just one example of the invaluable relationship between finance and farming.

Farmer in a cornfield

Financial Planning at the Heart of Agriculture

Agriculture is the lifeblood of many communities, providing sustenance and economic stability. It's a world where every season brings new challenges and opportunities. The cycle of planting, nurturing, and harvesting crops is not just a job; it's a way of life for farmers, like my husband, who work tirelessly to feed us.

Farmers typically begin their financial planning in the spring. They do this by using past performance, budgeting for expenses, and projecting commodity pricing and yields.  While many components of a farming operation are manageable, one of the most significant uncontrollable challenges is the weather.  Tillage and soil-management practices help farms adapt to changing climates, while crop insurance remains an essential tool for managing weather-related risks.

Many things impact farmers’ projections, such as fluctuations in costs such as chemicals, fertilizer, re-plant and fuel.  Therefore, the cash flow projection is dynamic and updated throughout the crop year.  Late harvest seasons often place a strain on cash flow because farmers have laid out capital for the entire crop year, anticipating harvest and collecting proceeds when they sell their commodities.  An INB operating line of credit is used to meet anticipated expenses, but also fills gaps due to unexpected things like a late harvest.  

Platinum Ag's Commitment to Farming

Platinum Ag is a shining example of agricultural excellence. This forward-thinking organization is dedicated to sustainable and environmentally responsible farming practices. They invest in cutting-edge technology and equipment to ensure both productivity and environmental stewardship, making them leaders in the industry. They utilize nitrogen management, soil sampling and yield data analysis among other practices. 

Harvest Season: Where the Work Pays Off

The video here captures the essence of the soybean harvest in Central Illinois–  a mesmerizing blend of machinery, precision, and teamwork. The soybean plants sway in the wind as state-of-the-art harvesters gently remove the pods and separate the valuable soybeans from the plant material.

Harvest is the time of year when farmers reap the benefits of their labor.  Harvests need to be efficient.  Farmers work long days during this season, leaving home before sunrise and returning home long after sunset.  INB brings financial efficiency to ag clients by offering mobile/online banking, which is available 24/7. 

The equipment used on the farm throughout the season and at harvest can be very expensive. INB helps by offering very competitive financing terms enabling farmers can buy updated equipment and take care of other operational needs. INB makes banking easy by giving farm clients the ability to e-sign their loan documents, which can be done at their convenience through secure/encrypted email. This feature helps minimize the time away from their farming operation.  

Specifically, digital banking allows clients to access funds from their line of credit, make payments on their loan(s), deposit checks remotely, and set alerts for account activity -- among a host of other options  -- which can be tailored to meet individual needs. 

Financial Support for Agricultural Dreams

My role at INB involves providing financial support to businesses like Platinum Ag. I understand the unique financial needs of agricultural operations, from purchasing equipment to securing loans for expanding operations. It's a privilege to work with local farmers and agribusinesses, helping them thrive and sustain the future of farming.

INB encourages farm clients to consult with their tax accountant as soon after harvest as practicable.  These planning sessions typically look not only at income for the year, but also give insight into prepayment of expenses and allow them to consider depreciation position on equipment. 

After harvest, INB also encourages clients to establish short-term and long-term goals for their operation.  These goals keep the farmer and lender on the same page. 

Because farming is a risky business, both the farmer and the INB lender need to manage that risk. INB lenders conduct periodic, thorough reviews of farm financial data, including financial ratios, leverage, debt service ratio, working capital, and debt to net worth.  While some clients can weather periodic losses, crop insurance programs are strong components for risk management. 

The Future of Agriculture

In a rapidly changing world, agriculture faces evolving challenges, too. From climate change to global market dynamics, farmers need to adapt and innovate all the time. The financial sector – banks like INB -- plays a crucial role in supporting these adaptations. By providing accessible and flexible financing options, we empower farmers to invest in technology, sustainable practices, and growth.

Agriculture is more than just a profession; it's a way of life. Platinum Ag and similar organizations remind me of the resilience and innovation within the farming community.  I’m proud to contribute to the growth and sustainability of local farmers and the industries that support them. Together, we can ensure agriculture remains a vibrant and vital industry, not only feeding our communities but also driving economic prosperity. I’m proud to celebrate the hardworking individuals behind every harvested crop and INB for standing behind them, helping ensure there’s a future where agriculture continues to flourish.