As I’m sure many of you do, I often check in with the ICBA to see what’s “in the wind” for community banks. Many of the banks with whom BankMarketingCenter.com has partnered do business with local farmers or what most small banks call their “farm families.” So, I found what I learned about what farmers face and the actions being taken by the federal government not just interesting, but very relevant to what I do as a bank marketer.
It also took me back to my own days growing up on a farm, a small farm in LaFayette, AL. We had hogs, horses, and 120 head of cows. I took part in clubs like 4-H and FFA (Future Farmers of America) and served as a member of the Livestock Judging Team. I know what hard work farming is. Believe me, cutting and baling hay in the Alabama heat is tough. I know the beating that sweaty hands will take repairing barbed wire fences in a sweltering Alabama August. There’s the pain, too, of getting up before school, in winter darkness, to break the ice on the watering troughs. I know what it’s like, for instance, to plant seed and hope that it rains. That’s not just a matter of hard work… It's a matter of having faith, as well. Then, there was the worry that comes with running a small farm… my dad keeping track of the cost of feed, maintenance, and supplies, especially when the price of beef would drop. And, finally, yes, that’s me with my favorite steer after winning First Place in the State Showmanship competition.
So, you can understand why I take such an interest in all things farming… including the legislation around this important way of life. It’s that interest that led me to do a bit of research around the all-important Farm Bill. A recent article on the ICBA website, I learned, provides a pretty thorough overview of the industry and what the upcoming Farm Bill will mean for farm families. And, subsequently, how that piece of legislation will affect the many farming communities that are served by small, local banks.
First, a bit of history. Why a Farm Bill and why is it important? Sure, there are economic reasons, but for me, there are other reasons, as well. Farming is a centuries-old “tradition,” if you will, and in many ways epitomizes those traits that we want to associate most with being Americans: Generosity, a huge work ethic, determination, and a love of this land, to name just a few. So, to me, anyway, there’s more at stake here than simply supporting an industry; it’s about supporting our rural American families, as well as a way of life that is deeply ingrained in who we are as a people and a nation. And Thomas Jefferson would agree with me. After all, it was Jefferson who said: "Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands."
It was 1862 when President Lincoln signed legislation establishing the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He called it "the people's department" since, at that time, 90 percent of Americans were farmers. The first Farm Bill was enacted during the 1930s as part of the New Deal and had three main goals: Keep food prices fair for farmers and consumers, ensure an adequate food supply, and protect and sustain the country’s vital natural resources.
Needless to say, the economics (and politics) of our agriculture industry have gotten far more complex since the New Deal. The basic tenets, however, do remain the same and it is upon those basic tenets that the new Congress is currently working to build the 2023 Farm Bill. Farm bill provisions are designed, at least in part, to provide lenders and farm families with a long-term policy framework for business and planning purposes, along with money that will help farming communities to thrive.
As stated in the ICBA article, “the 2023 farm bill should continue to provide essential assistance to the farm sector and to rural America,” and fortunately, the ICBA has been extremely involved, and vocal, in ensuring that farming families continue to receive the assistance, and protections, that they need, including but not limited to:
- A strong crop insurance program
- USDA farm loan guarantees with increased loan limits
- Continued community bank market access provided by Farmer Mac
- Assistance with the high costs associated with inflationary times
- Climate change programs that do not cause economic burdens
- Agricultural export programs that support the industry
- Funding for university-led agricultural research
In conclusion, I applaud the ICBA which, back in 2018, worked tirelessly to help secure the futures of our farming families and is doing the same great work now. I applaud, too, all of America’s community banks that do the absolute best they can to support their farm families. Do I have a bit of a personal interest in this, as well as a professional one? I certainly do and you can bet the farm on that.
About Bank Marketing Center
Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that topical, compelling communication with customers; the messaging — developed by banking industry marketing professionals, well trained in the thinking behind effective marketing communication — that will help you build trust, relationships, and revenue. In short, build your brand. Like these campaigns designed to help community banks support their farming family customers.To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to social media and in branch signage – visit bankmarketingcenter.com. You can also contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or via email at email@example.com. As always, I welcome your thoughts on the subject.