Just as production agriculture has evolved, so has the world of ag lending. In today's world, farmers and ranchers have a limited amount of spare time available, with a range of decisions to make on a regular basis, from nitrogen and irrigation management to crop marketing to ag land purchases and financing.
Farm Credit Services of America recently announced the launch of FarmLend.com, a mobile-friendly website that allows farmers and ranchers to apply online for land loans.
"We felt our customers would respond well to a digital product offering, so we created the mobile-friendly website and platform FarmLend to apply for land loans online," says Duane Maciejewski, senior vice president of emerging markets at FCSAmerica. "FCSAmerica has been around a long time. We're well-known for lending in ag real estate already today, but as ag lending continues to change, we felt we needed to add an additional channel to respond to that change."
Using a simple, secure online form, producers can apply for loans to purchase or refinance farmland, ranchland or pasture when it’s convenient. Applicants typically receive a response within two to three business hours of applying, enabling them to complete the loan process in less time than applying in person. Maciejewski says it takes about nine to 10 minutes to fill out the application.
"We have a running joke that farmers sometimes tell us we're open 'bankers' hours.' We think FarmLend is the reverse, open 'farmers' hours' — we're open when they need something done," he says. "One FarmLend applicant told us he was feeding his child in the rocking chair at 11 p.m. with one arm and filling out an application on FarmLend with his other hand. With everything people are busy with, we think this will help additional customers who wouldn't apply through traditional methods."
FarmLend allows producers to apply for land loans that are underwritten and serviced by FCSAmerica — providing access to the same services, rates and terms customers would get at a local office, including rates fixed for the entire life of long-term loans.
"We have multiple ways customers can interact with us and access our products," Maciejewski says. "We have 14 local offices across Nebraska that will continue to serve customers traditionally as well. FarmLend is another way to accentuate those offerings in the marketplace."
"Everything you see on FarmLend.com is a response to things people have requested," Maciejewski says. "For example, customers have told us about the importance of speed. Oftentimes, farms only come up for sale once every 30 or 40 years, and sometimes you hear about farms selling without a sign posted. So people need to move fast."
"FarmLend has additional resources that let people run different combinations of loan terms, down payments, yield history, those kinds of things, so they can see how those things affect bottom line before the loan application process," he adds. "The biggest one we think is the affordability calculator. Users can run multiple scenarios and see which is the best option for loan structure, down payments and those kinds of things."
To learn more, visit FarmLend.com.