CEO Comments: This Summer and Beyond
Dave Armstrong
Stormy clouds rolling over unplanted fields.

Dave ArmstrongWhat will today bring? As I write these comments, I could share the statistics and facts around the current market, weather and farming conditions, but if this spring has taught me anything, it’s that it will change as fast as I type it.


On top of the changes, the statistics vary widely from one neighborhood to the next, and each soil type provides a separate dynamic. Overall, the Corn Belt planting numbers, particularly in the Michigan and Wisconsin area, say that only half of the soybeans were planted, and three-quarters of the corn – these were not the records our members were looking to break.


Winterkill on alfalfa pose a separate threat to livestock farmers, and cold temperatures continue to hinder the growth of the crops that did make it in the soil.


It’s been 40 years since we have seen these widespread conditions, and this time we can add in political pressures and government program uncertainties.


While it appears the national numbers are improving, the situation is very different for each farmer, with many of our members significantly behind and uncertain of what the rest of the year will bring for both yields and the markets.


These historic weather conditions, coupled with the continuing drama over trade and the fifth year of negative margins for many commodities are taking their toll on not just balance sheets, but also on emotional health. And while the stress of multiple “threats” clings, there is the always palatable reality that everything can change today. Mother Nature may change her suit and play a card from another hand. Clarity may erode from the foundation of the various programs being deployed, and supply may be impacted enough to teeter demand to the other side.


There is no doubt about it. This is the most challenging planting season I have experienced in my 38 years in this business. But one thing that hasn’t changed is our high level of confidence in the American farmer.


Our collective GreenStone membership in Michigan and Wisconsin continues to impress us with their efficiencies and management ability through these difficult times.


GreenStone is locked in on assisting its members with these and other challenges they are facing. Our crop insurance team members are working with customers to ensure they have the information, knowledge, and numbers to analyze a variety of scenarios when making crucial decisions. We have helped lead numerous farmer meetings this spring to share delayed and prevent plant updates and more importantly, to listen and then answer questions.


As a responsible financial lender, our team of risk analysts continue to review our resource needs, and prepare solutions for implementation should loan servicing levels rise due to known or unknown challenges that today, or tomorrow, may bring. You can be assured GreenStone will be prepared to serve you with the same high level of timely, professional service you deserve in spite of the challenges we all face.


As the summer unfolds, I encourage you to spend time reviewing your 2019-2020 financial projections for any unanticipated gaps and to contact your GreenStone financial services officer as soon as possible to discuss them. The earlier we can identify your needs, the faster we can help provide counsel and assist in identifying a plan to get those gaps filled. The very worst response to a difficult financial situation is to do nothing and hope it will resolve itself.


GreenStone stands strong against the trend of other financial institutions by continuing to focus on our mission, and bolstering our ability to truly be a lender in good times and bad for our members. It is times like these that test the resolve of the agricultural industry. With a strong capital base, coupled with a committed and experienced team of professionals who truly care about your success, I am very confident about our ability to stand with you.


Our real strength is each of you! Our members are also talented professionals who are some of the very best at what they do and collectively run their businesses in a financially responsible manner. While there are few guarantees in life, this combination should give us all the confidence necessary to bridge us to better times.


Once again, I want to wish you the best for a productive and safe growing season and thank you for your business! Feel free to reach out to me if I can ever be of assistance.


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