AgChoice's Commitment to Agriculture
Darrell Curtis, president and CEO of AgChoice, discusses opening our offices and the government programs to help farmers.
The last few months have been a whirlwind with the global pandemic taking center stage. Could you share with our listeners how AgChoice is operating in today’s environment?
Maintaining the health and safety of our employees, customers and partners continues to be a top priority. During most of the pandemic, we had a large percentage of our staff working remotely. As pandemic restrictions begin to ease, we will gradually increase staffing at our offices and conduct more in-person customer visits. Our staff will stay in line with current guidelines, including wearing masks, and keeping safety top of mind. If you are planning a trip to an AgChoice branch office, view our video about how we will conduct business and protocols for our offices.
We’ve learned a lot during this time, including how we can serve customers virtually and minimize face-to-face contact. We look forward to the day when we can resume normal operations. Over the last three to four months, we have provided all of the services we usually do. There was never a break or slowdown in service. We just had to abide by all the needed safety measures, and we’ll continue to do so while still delivering the services customers need to grow their businesses and reach their dreams.
Since we last spoke there have been a number of coronavirus relief efforts launched for farmers, including PPP, CFAP and more. What has been AgChoice’s role in those programs and could you share about their impacts on farmers?
The pandemic has been a challenging time for all of us. One bright spot has been the increased awareness by the general public and policy makers that agriculture is essential, a life-sustaining business. While the government assistance programs may not make up fully for losses farmers have experienced due to lower commodity prices and uncertainty of markets, they are helpful.
The SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a program we helped deliver to many farms and agribusinesses in our territory. In total, we wrote almost 400 PPP loans, totaling about $44 million. We are now working through the loan forgiveness process with our customers as all or a portion of the loan is forgivable to the customer.
Another program that is having a significant impact on farmers is the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) administered through Farm Service Agency. I encourage any farmer who produces eligible commodities to apply for this funding before the August 28 deadline.
We have a number of employees keeping a pulse on all of the government programs and how they may impact farmers. We’ve reviewed a number of these programs on prior episodes of this podcast, and we post resources to our webpage at AgChoice.com/resources.
Are there any other thoughts you'd like to share with our listeners today?
Our shared purpose, or vision, is Inspiring Growth in our Families, Businesses and Rural Communities. That shared purpose defines our shared relationship with customer-owners and hasn’t changed during this time. We’re committed to our customer-owners and to growing an always-improving cooperative.
Many of the programs I shared today are for our farm and agribusiness customers. Our staff have also been very busy serving part-time farmers and rural property owners as there has been a renewed interest in country living, land purchases and starting small-scale farms. Additionally, we offer a suite of financial services including business consulting, accounting and tax preparation, crop insurance and appraisals. Our experienced and dedicated staff providing these services can help customers navigate successfully through these challenging times.
I cannot tell you how impressed I am with our customer-owners. During this world-wide crisis they have shown they are resilient, resolved and strong. It’s an honor to work in agriculture and serve farmers, today and every day. Thanks to the entire agricultural industry for your contributions to our local communities, our nation and our world.
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