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June 29
Get an Inside Look at Agriculture with Breakfast on the Farm

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Breakfast on the Farm is a family-friendly experience to learn about the importance of farming and see firsthand where your food comes from. Attendees will enjoy a farm fresh breakfast, take a tour of the farm, and engage in various farm related activities. You’ll get a firsthand opportunity to see where your food comes from!

The breakfasts are great opportunities to visit a farm, see how cows are milked, pet baby a calf, learn about the process of planting corn, soybeans and wheat, and more! These local farmers are proud to show and tell you what they do to produce safe, wholesome and nutritious food.
Free tickets to the breakfasts are available at a variety of local businesses surrounding the farms. Check the Breakfast on the Farm website for specific locations and additional information.

Photo courtesy of Michigan State University ANR Communications.

June 22
Intern Life in the Branches

Two of our interns are spending their summer working in the Grand Rapids and Adrian branches. Henry and Abby, our branch interns, take us through their day in the branch to see what it’s like! Henry is a credit intern and Abby is a credit/crop insurance intern.

 

7:30 A.M: Henry arrives at the Grand Rapids branch office. He grabs coffee, catches up on emails and previews what needs to be done for the day.

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8:00 A.M: Abby arrives at the Adrian office and gets energized with a warm cup of coffee.

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8:10 A.M Henry dives into his work. Henry does dairy peer comparison data input and analysis, greenhouse peer comparison data input and analysis, as well as inputs customer data in WEM.

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8:30 A.M: Abby catches up on reading GreenStone’s credit policy manuals to become familiar with the company’s credit procedures.

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9:30 A.M: Henry takes part in monthly conference calls.

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10:00 A.M: Coffee round 2!

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12:30 P.M: Henry has lunch with co-workers and shares daily events and experiences.

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1:00 P.M: Abby has a meeting with her supervisor/mentor to review her work that's completed and to answer any pressing questions about the files she is working on.

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1:30 P.M: Henry continues to work through his projects and meets deadlines.

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4:30 P.M: Thumbs up for completing another day of their internship at such a wonderful company!

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June 15
​GreenStone’s E-commerce Specialist Explains the New My Access Features

Last fall we launched My Access, a system that brings together Online Banking with a series of value added tools customers can use to enhance their experience with GreenStone. This summer, we are rolling out a set of new options that customers can use to stay up-to-date with their accounts. Maureen Oberman, GreenStone’s e-commerce marketing specialist, explains the new features available to My Access users as of June 15.


What can users expect to see when they log into My Access on June 15?
We are excited to roll out several new features this week. The My Access system already offered a safe, secure platform for users to access online banking, exchange files and view documents. The new features released this week give customers even more flexibility to manage their accounts.

  • Bills and Statements are now more conveniently located under My Documents. As an added benefit, this new location gives you access to more than a year’s worth of bills and statements.
  • Go Paperless by signing up for electronic bills and statements. When you enroll, you can set up an alert to receive email and text message notifications to know the instant your bill or statement is available.  
  • File Exchange can now securely transfer up to 10 files between you and multiple GreenStone staff members.
  • My Alerts has even more options available for you to select the notifications that are most important to you regarding your loans and transactions.

What feedback have you gotten about the system and how does this new rollout address customer comments?
We regularly heard that customers wanted a paperless option to do business with GreenStone. We are very happy to now offer electronic bills and statements. Not only is it environmentally friendly, but it also reduces the amount of paper and clutter in your home, and eliminates the time it takes to sort through documents, deciding what to keep and what to shred. Our system will automatically archive the past 13 months of bills and statements for customers.


If a customer has a question, or needs assistance with the system, who should they contact?
Our My Access support team is also ready to help; phone support is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET at 877.327.6424, or via email anytime at MyAccessHelp@greenstonefcs.com. 

June 05
From the Air Force to Agriculture

​By Lindsey Bliss

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Karis Gutter, USDA Military Veterans Liaison, speaks with farmer veterans on June 2 during the Farm Credit Salute to Veterans event.*

U.S. Air Force veteran and GreenStone vice president of commercial lending, Brent Spencer, returned this week from Washington, D.C., where he attended the Farm Credit Salute to Veterans. The event honored farmer veterans and included meetings with members of Congress to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing veterans seeking careers in agriculture.

As a farmer veteran himself, Brent shared his thoughts on the trip, and offered advice for veterans thinking about a career in farming.

What were the highlights of your trip to D.C. for the veterans’ event?

The highlight of the trip was meeting fellow veterans that have chosen post military careers in the agricultural field. It was a great opportunity to share our stories of military service with each other and discuss our successful transitions into farming operations.

How did your time in the military prepare you for your career in an agriculture-related field?

My military experience taught me to be self-motivated and to always find a way to get a job done. Whether it is Mother Nature or Murphy’s Law, farming will throw new challenges your way every day. Staying motivated and continuing toward your objectives are lessons well-learned in the military that have definitely helped when facing the challenges of farming.

What advice do you have for recent veterans who are considering farming or agriculture as a career?

Many types of farming require considerable capital investment. My advice to recent veterans is to first research as much as you can about the type of agriculture you would like to be involved in and what type of investment it would require. Next, check with your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Farm Credit office to discuss programs they offer to help veterans and young, beginning, small farmers get started. FSA and the Farm Credit system have a long history of working together to help get beginning farmers started.

Lindsey Bliss is the communications and public relations specialist for GreenStone Farm Credit Services.

*Photo courtesy of the Farm Credit Council

June 01
Celebrate June is Dairy Month with Family Fun at the Farm

​By Ashley Den Dulk

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Family Fun at the Farm is Saturday, June 6 at 10 a.m. at the Turbergen Dairy Farm in Ionia.

Bringing people back to the farm to learn about a modern day working family farm is the goal of the Family Fun at the Farm event. Today, families are so far removed from the farm and where their food comes from, they often have many misconceptions. A committee of passionate agriculture promoters, from Clinton and Ionia County Farm Bureaus, set out to help people to learn about their food right from the source: a family farm!

Family Fun at the Farm has become an annual event, hosted at a dairy farm within Ionia or Clinton County. The committee works with a generous host farm for more than six months to prepare for the big event each year. Fittingly, the event is held in June each year, which is also National Dairy Month. On average, the event will host 2,000+ people and takes 200+ volunteers to put on the event. With many generous sponsors, the event is completely free to the public.


At the event, guests can expect to spend a couple hours at the farm with plenty of activities to keep them entertained, all while learning about agriculture. Guest’s favorite parts of the event include getting to feed a calf, hitching a ride on a wagon, and the free hot dogs, milk and MOO-ville ice cream. Additionally, guests will get to tour the freestall barn, meet the farm vet in the maternity pen, and see cows getting milked in the parlor. A bounce house, playing in the corn box, the petting zoo and book barn are just a few more of the activities guests can expect.

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The 2015 event is scheduled for Saturday, June 6 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Tubergen Dairy Farm. The farm is located at 1689 Bugbee Road, Ionia, Mich., 48846. The Tubergen’s have a beautiful farm and have put a lot of work into making sure this is a successfully fun and educational event.

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As a GreenStone employee, I am fortunate to work for a company that encourages its employees to get involved and promote agriculture. I, along with another GreenStone employee, am on the planning committee for the event. We take pride in being able to help put on an event that showcases agriculture and supports our customers and communities. Additionally, many other GreenStone employees donate their time the day of the event to volunteer and ensure a fun day for all.


To find out more about the event, check out our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/FamilyFunAtTheFarm

Ashley Den Dulk is a financial services officer for GreenStone.

May 26
Meet the 2015 Interns

​GreenStone has welcomed six new interns for the 2015 summer program! This summer’s intern class is comprised of a variety of backgrounds and interests in the agricultural industry. Let's meet the new interns!

 

 

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Abby Carpenter
Credit/Crop Insurance Intern
Branch: Adrian
Hometown: Adrian, MI
College: Michigan State University
Major: Agri-business Management
Minor: Crop and Soil Sciences
Ag Background: 1200 acre family farm, operate a fall agri-tourism business with pumpkins, a corn maze and hayrides.
Internship Goal: I hope to learn about the credit process and all the behind the scene actions that take place here at GreenStone.

 

 


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Henry Smits
Credit Intern
Branch: Grand Rapids
Hometown: Hamilton, MI
College: Grand Valley State University
Major: Accounting
Ag Background: Experience working on a dairy farm, custom farming crew, equipment dealership and family hobby farm.
Internship Goal: I hope to develop experience and exposure to farm credit, as well as, learn about how the credit system works and developed.

 

 

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Isaac Anguiano
Corporate Credit Intern
Branch: East Lansing
Hometown: Area of Chicago, IL
College: Michigan State University
Major: Finance
Ag Background: C.A.M.P. Scholar with Migrant Student Services at Michigan State University, worked alongside as a supervisor/driver with family owned company named EuroBrick Inc
Internship Goal: I hope to learn the practices of corporate credit and lending amounts, such as qualifying and approval of loans.

 

 
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Jennifer Spink
Marketing Intern
Branch: East Lansing
Hometown: Pleasant Lake, MI
College: Northwood University
Major: Marketing
Minor: Economics
Ag Background: 200 acre irrigated row crop farm, train/show AQHA Horses, owner of GoShowMidwest.com
Internship Goal: I hope to gain corporate marketing experience while combining my love for marketing with my love for agriculture.

 

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Matthew Platte
Corporate Credit Intern
Branch: East Lasing
Hometown: Westphalia, MI
College: Michigan State University
Major: Agri-Business Management
Ag Background: Family Dairy Farm

Internship Goal: I hope to gain a better understanding of Ag finance and working in a corporate setting.

 

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Rebecca Hacker
Corporate Credit Intern
Branch: East Lansing
Hometown: Cass City, MI
College: Central Michigan University
Major: Real Estate: Development and Finance
Ag Background: Family Dairy Farm
Internship Goal: I hope to become more knowledgeable about and gain experience within the farm credit industry, become more familiar with loan and appraisal processes, and learn, learn, learn!


April 28
What Impacts Interest Rates and How Are Rates Determined?
As printed in the latest edition of Michigan Farm News.

By Travis Jones

Interest rates are typically market driven and in most cases, they are tied to the United States Treasury Bills and Notes. I say “typically” because the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve also has a significant impact on interest rates.

The FOMC determines short-term rates by setting the Federal Funds (Fed Funds) rate. Today, the Fed Funds target rate is 0 to 0.25 percent; historically these are very low rates. The low Fed Funds rate is one of the main reasons the interest we earn on our checking and savings accounts today is minimal. The Fed Funds rate also helps set the Wall Street Journal Prime Rate. The largest banks in the country most often set the Prime Rate at 3 percent above the Fed Funds rate. Therefore, today it is at 3.25 percent. The Fed Funds rate and the Prime Rate have been at these levels since December 2008, when our economy was at the beginning of the recession. The FOMC will keep short-term rates lower in a below average economy in order to try to increase investment and help the economy recover. If the economy is improving and the FOMC thinks there is a risk of inflation, they will typically raise short-term rates.

When we see news reports ask the question, “Will the Fed raise rates soon?” they are discussing whether the FOMC will raise the Fed Funds target rate. Historically, the FOMC could not control longer-term rates like the 10-year U.S. Treasury Note rate. The market, based on the demand for U.S. Treasury Notes, normally establishes long-term rates. The market would weigh such factors as the health of the economy, risk of inflation, and value of the U.S. dollar compared to other currencies. Those elements still impact longer-term rates today. However, during the recession and up until 2014, the Federal Reserve actually bought a total of approximately $4 trillion in long-term bonds in order to help keep long-term rates, like home mortgage rates, low.  The Federal Reserve still holds these bonds today. If they were to start selling the bonds, long-term rates would likely increase quickly. Since the FOMC does not want long-term rates to increase too rapidly, they are not in a hurry to sell them.

Due to the improving labor market, economists are anticipating the FOMC to start slowly increasing the Fed Funds target rate sometime between June and December of this year. However, a number of other economic reports seem to show the FOMC should wait to raise rates. Manufacturing output and homebuilder confidence have both recently fell for the third straight month. The strong U.S. dollar is already hurting exports of goods. Central banks around the world have cut interest rates this year and the European Central Bank started its own bond-buying program, all to help their struggling economies. If the U.S. decides to raise rates when others are cutting theirs, our dollar could get even stronger, which would negatively impact our global trade even further. The possibility that the FOMC will slightly raise short-term rates this year exists, but there is the chance that long-term rates could stay low due to the fact that the strong dollar might attract investors to long-term bonds.

After reading this, if it sounds as though no one is really sure what is going to happen with rates, that is an accurate assessment. It is this type of market confusion over the last few years that helped cause this headline on Bloomberg.com on March 16, 2015, “How Interest Rates Keep Making People on Wall Street Look Like Fools.”

Travis Jones is the Executive Vice President  – Chief Financial Officer for GreenStone.


April 14
Ag Day at the Capitol

By Becky Whaley​

On March 25 agricultural leaders from across the state of Michigan came to Lansing to celebrate the 11th anniversary of Ag Day at the Capitol. The event is designed to raise the industry’s profile with state lawmakers and is looked forward to each year by all. Gov. Rick Snyder also declared March as Michigan Food and Agriculture Month in honor of the agricultural industry’s continued growth and success, having topped $101 billion in annual economic impact. 

For GreenStone, the morning began with a Michigan Ag Day Breakfast featuring flying pancakes by Chris Cakes of Michigan. Legislators, MI GreenStone PAC contributors, and industry leaders were invited to begin the day’s festivities by catching a pancake and enjoying other Michigan food products. 

Following the breakfast, several GreenStone directors and employees helped deliver baskets to state senators and representatives. The basket contained Michigan–produced food products, informational materials, and an invite to the main Ag Day event taking place inside the state capitol at lunch time. Over 30 agricultural organizations set up informative displays and supplied bountiful snacks.

Ag Day at the Capitol is an event to demonstrate the diversity and unity of the agricultural industry in Michigan. It also provides opportunities for legislators to interact with the Michiganders that feed and fuel our great state, country, and world, and to understand the issues farmers face in doing so. 

Becky Whaley is the GreenStone Legal & Legislative Specialist.

 

GreenStone Board Members Ron Lucas and Hank Choate at the Ag Day at the Capitol event.

 GreenStone Board Members Ron Lucas and Hank Choate at the 2015 Ag Day at the Capitol event.

 

 

 

April 03
​Dollars and Sense: Construction and Financing Options

As printed in the latest edition of Michigan Farm News.​

By Melissa Humphrey

As I sit here looking at my thermostat that shows a frigid temperature, I cannot help but try to find things that make me think of warmer days.  As with the season, my mind wanders to those of you thinking about a new home construction project, major renovation or new home purchase. 

Before beginning your next construction project, it is important to find a lending partner that has a vast array of options to fit your needs.  These can range from variable to fixed rates, as well as both contracted and do-it-yourself construction loans. Look for a financial institution that is able to take care of all the loan details and construction draw processes and procedures so your time can be spent selecting the perfect cabinetry, flooring and paint colors. 

Another option to consider is a fixed rate loan. In today’s market, the interest rate continues to rise, by locking in your loan at today’s low rates, you can eliminate the risk of worrying about what interest rates could be in six or nine months when construction is complete.  This also offers you the convenience of a one-time closing, which will help reduce costs in the long run.

Another added feature that is available with select lenders is the ability to go up to a higher loan to value ratio, like 95 percent, on fully contracted new home construction and home purchases. This option could help you start your project sooner than originally planned and will allow some extra cash on hand for the upgrades you may select along the way. This product has a slightly higher rate than a typical loan that would require a minimum of 20 percent down, but allows wider options depending on your needs.

If you are looking to acquire land now and plan to build in the future, lenders will also finance home sites. Purchasing the land first allows you to gain some equity in your land that could be used when you are ready for construction. This type of option should not require a deadline of when you must build, and the interest rates can be fixed.

Whether you plan to build or buy, finding your partner in success is crucial to any financing project. Consider contacting a GreenStone financial services officer in your area to discuss the vast array of options that can help make your next dream home a reality.

Melissa Humphrey is a regional vice president of sales and customer relations for GreenStone Farm Credit Services.

 

March 23
Spreading the Agriculture Message to Schoolchildren

​By Amanda Kutchey

March 18 not only was Patronage Day here at Greenstone, but it was also National Ag Day. While the loan officers and customer service representatives tended to happy customers in our branch, I took the message of agriculture to the community.   

As President of Macomb County Farm Bureau, we wanted to expand awareness of National Ag Day because as Macomb County has become more urban, fewer people actively engage with someone who farms.  One of our ideas for this year was to reach out to schools within our community and read a book about agriculture that was “AG-curate” about today’s industry. We had seven volunteers read to 20 children in kindergarten through second grade classrooms in three different school districts.

Myself and two other volunteers got to visit R.E.A.C.H. academy in Roseville, which is at the very southern end of our county and where many children think the food they eat grows at a grocery, and most have never stepped foot onto a farm. We read the book “Who Grew My Soup.” It is a great book that teaches kids about where the vegetables in vegetable soup come from. When the story was over, it was time for them to ask us questions. We learned about the movies they saw the past weekend,  video games they love, and that they LOVE carrots, including how their grandmothers cooks carrots. They all were very excited to talk to us and even had some great questions about how things are grown, how big tractors are, and hold old farmers are. 

I am very thankful that GreenStone allows us the opportunity to be a part of the community to help spread the word of agriculture to those who are not fortunate enough to live within it every day as many of us are. The joy and excitement of the kids in every classroom that day was something more people should get to experience!

Amanda Kutchey is a crop insurance specialist for GreenStone.


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