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Spring 2009

Spring feature story... It’s a growing business


Editor’s Note

Editor’s Note

The cold winter season has finally moved on and made way for spring…a time of year that brings excitement and a renewed sense of optimism as temperatures warm and the vibrant colors return. As we begin this new growing season, most of you are undoubtedly reacquainting yourself with the wonderful outdoors—whether it’s to prepare for planting or simply to enjoy the clean fresh air. At the same time, we hope you will take a few moments to enjoy this latest issue of Partners, which offers a feature article on a new entrepreneur who took a risk, the announcement of our 2008 Circle of Excellence staff awards, and a guest column on what you should know before purchasing agricultural property. Happy reading…and as always, your comments and ideas are welcomed. Published by

CONTENTS

SPRING2009

FEATURES

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Young, Beginning, and Small Farmer Focus As a self-described “poster-child for job burn-out,” Kelly Burkholder spent a lot of time daydreaming of a better way to make a living. Although Kelly had no experience running a greenhouse, her management and customer service skills coupled with her overall desire to succeed, were enough for her to launch into the business.

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Avoid Third-Party Loan Assistance; Call GreenStone Don’t be too quick to dial that toll-free number on your television screen! GreenStone’s loan servicing programs may be able to meet your needs without the need for expensive third-party fees.

IN EVERY ISSUE

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CEO Comments Market Outlook Director’s Corner News Update

COLUMNS

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Family Dilemma by Dr. David Kohl

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What You Must Know Before Purchasing Agricultural Property by Matthew J. Germane and Christopher G. Pare


CEO Comments

CEO Comments by Dave Armstrong

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hope this issue of Partners finds you “thawed out” and ready to enjoy spring. What a winter we’ve had! From Clintonville, Wisconsin to Monroe, Michigan the winter of 2008-09 will be remembered for bone chilling cold and record snowfall. Let’s hope that spring will not only bring about warm temperatures, but the renewal of confidence in our economy and the beginning of the end of recession we have been living with since January of 2008. GreenStone continues to perform well amidst all the turmoil in the financial markets. Year-end 2008 results have been published with GreenStone once again reporting strong earnings, with permanent capital of 12.65 percent, and a payment of $13.5 million in cash patronage to its members in March…which makes me wonder how many banks paid earnings back to their customers last year? While the future is still very uncertain, we are confident in GreenStone’s ability to persevere through the financial storm upon us and continue to carry out its mission in a dependable and competitive manner. As I reported to you in the last edition of Partners, the impact of this financial crisis on GreenStone had been minimal up to that point with the spreads between Farm Credit System bonds and comparable U.S. Treasuries widening to unprecedented levels resulting in higher interest rates being charged by System institutions. Since that time, these spreads have narrowed but are still relatively wide and significantly higher than those on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds even though those institutions were at “ground zero” of the subprime housing mortgage market meltdown. These former Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) were subsequently taken over by the federal government and now enjoy bond pricing similar to that of U.S. Treasuries because the government’s “implicit guarantee” of their debt as GSEs is now “explicit” due to the government bailout. How ironic is it that institutions at the heart of this financial calamity are now actually rewarded by the markets with a lower cost of funds than those like the Farm Credit System which has stayed true to its mission and provided a responsible, competitive, and dependable source of credit through it all? Fortunately, the general level of interest rates has come down which helps mitigate the impact these higher spreads have had on rates in general. In fact, short term interest rates are very attractive with longer term rates being higher, relative to the short-term rates, than they were prior to the commencement of the market collapse last fall. The current outlook for rates indicates that short

term interest rates will remain low over the remainder of 2009 with a relatively steeper premium for longer term rates. This assumes that the economy continues to struggle in the short run and the Fed keeps the discount and Fed Funds rates in their present targeted range of 0 - .25 percent. Longer term rates will remain higher as investors stay on the sidelines until their confidence in the financial markets is restored and they start investing again. During this period of uncertainty GreenStone continues to have an adequate supply of funding across all product lines to fund customer demand. Based on current forecasts, credit worthy customers should not be concerned about the availability of loan funds as they prepare for spring planting. While it is possible that funding for longer term fixed products could be temporarily interrupted, there should be plenty of short term funding available. In general, most of GreenStone’s customers enjoyed a profitable 2008 and will have adequate working capital and equity to withstand what will undoubtedly be a very volatile 2009. One sector of ag which has struggled of late is ethanol. This industry was negatively impacted by the huge volatility in corn and oil prices last summer. Some ethanol plants made bets that corn would continue to go higher and took significant positions that later undermined their financial position when corn prices suddenly dropped by nearly 50 percent. This, coupled with the dramatic drop in oil prices late last summer and fall, contributed to a deepening financial collapse of many ethanol plants. Unless the present economic environment for ethanol improves soon, losses in this portfolio will continue to negatively impact GreenStone throughout 2009. Fortunately, GreenStone has less than 2 percent of its portfolio invested in various ethanol plants around the U.S. which we believe is manageable from an overall risk standpoint. Dairy, swine, timber, floriculture, and nursery operations are other sectors of the ag industry that are also currently experiencing difficulty. Hopefully, lower corn prices and supply corrections in both dairy and swine will provide these two sectors with relief by the middle part of this year. Unfortunately, the other industries will probably continue to struggle until the housing sector starts a meaningful recovery. Even though the current economic outlook is uncertain, your Board of Directors voted at its February 24 meeting to proceed with the construction of a new corporate office facility near our current location in East Lansing. Due to a 13 percent compounded average annual growth rate since the inception of GreenStone in 2000, the need for additional space became clear over a year and a half ago. At that time, the Board formed a Facilities Committee to examine various options on how to best accommodate the space needs created by this extraordinary growth. Many options were reviewed including adding on to the current facility, leasing additional space, buying an existing facility, and building new. Ultimately, the committee concluded that continued on page 6...

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Market Outlook

SPRING 2009 MARKET By Ken Lake

OUTLOOK

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his has unquestionably been the most difficult market update that I have ever written. Typically at this time of the year one can look forward to certain fundamentals like the annual battle between corn and soybeans for acres, or the seasonal tendencies of the market to drive us higher. Yet we find ourselves firmly in the grip of the global financial meltdown and fundamentals are out the door. Keep this thought in mind as you read through this piece—no markets are immune to this problem and all markets will move in sync as the meltdown ebbs and flows. No matter where you look, the news is bad and markets will remain under pressure as this market sentiment remains under pressure. To me this market sentiment is the key to market direction for the remainder of this crop year. As long as the media remains focused on the negative, markets will remain weak, and investors will keep their money in cash based assets. When the positive news stories begin to surface, investor’s cash will come out of the bank and flow into stocks and commodities with certain pent-up buying frustration. I have no idea what that positive news will be, but I do know that it is human nature not to be able to focus on the same old story for an extended period of time and there will be a time when media outlets will begin to search and publish positive economic news. Those positive news stories will be preceded by a long-term market bottom. My price analysis in this piece will stick purely to technical studies because that’s what drives volatile markets in the short term; longer term price direction cannot be established until the period of “good news” mentioned above begins. Corn, wheat and soybeans all have displayed the same patterns since the collapse commenced in July of 2008 and are now range bound, seeking a bottom. Corn fell from its high on June 27, 2008 of $8.22 (May 2009 contract) to a low on December 5, 2008 of $3.15, an astonishing 61 percent drop. A recovery ensued and peaked on January 6, 2009 at $4.37 then fell to $3.64 on March 10; this becomes the range that we are thus trapped in. We need positive news to launch us out of this range and from my vantage point, I do not see it. One might argue that a certain

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reduction in corn planting could be the catalyst for a launch but with old crop corn stocks on the increase at more than a one to one ratio to reduced plantings, lower seedings will not launch corn price higher. The most corn growers can hope for, in my opinion, is news that will cause a re-test of the January high of something over $4.00. May soybeans fell from their summer of 2008 high of $16.44 to a December 5 low of $7.86 – a 52 percent drop. It then recovered to $10.49 then fell to $8.38 on March 2. I think we will be range-bound during spring days between $8.30 and the 50-day moving average of $9.50, which coincides with a 62 percent retracement of the move from $10.49 to $8.38. I do believe that the December 5 low is vulnerable and will be taken out later this summer as increased spring soy seedings will appear burdensome as the crop develops. May wheat displayed the same pattern as the two grains already mentioned, falling 52 percent from its summer highs to winter lows with a subsequent recovery and collapse. The current trading range is between $6.58 and $4.84 in the May contract and seems destined to test its lows as larger fall seedings develop. We are witnessing the usual spring rally in wheat as we focus on winter-kill and the annual drought in the southwest…both issues will soon pass and price weakness will return. My final comment is in regard to input costs. As mentioned in the opening paragraph, no market is immune to the global financial meltdown we find ourselves in and it strikes me that crop input costs have some additional adjustments coming. Farmers reduced their fertilizer usage by 20 percent last fall. Farmers will plant their acres this spring, with or without fertilizer and hope for the best. The fertilizer supply industry is poised to take advantage of the small surge in input demand this spring, but one should anticipate a subsequent collapse of input value post spring demand unless the value of the underlying commodity for which the inputs are being used is on the increase.  Ken Lake is the Originations Services Coordinator for Michigan Agricultural Commodities, Inc., working out of its Global Ethanol office in Riga, Michigan. He can be reached at 517-486-6190 ext. 107, or at kenlake@michag.com. The opinions stated herein are not necessarily those of GreenStone FCS.


Farm Management

Family Dilemma By Dr. David Kohl

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young farmer at one of my recent seminars asked a very good question. She asked if she and her husband should start to gradually buy some of the farmland from his mother to assist in the generational transfer of the farm. This type of question could be a seminar in itself and is representative of a family business issue that is faced by many young farmers. My thoughts are as follows: First, a family meeting needs to be arranged very soon with the assistance of a third party facilitator. The first meeting needs to revolve around the future of the farm. This should include mom’s standpoint, the operations, and the non-farm siblings. What are each individual’s goals and do they want to carry on the family farm legacy? It would be wise for the young couple to start the buyout of the land from mom at a price established by an outside appraiser, or appraisers representing each party. This would allow the young couple to have more certainty that any investment or improvement made on the farm could be capitalized on. Any major capital improvements would require an agreement for compensation on a prorated basis if terminated early, so the young couple could recapture their investment. The young couple needs to meet with the agrilender and conduct a feasibility study to ascertain whether they would have the repayment ability and the financial position to purchase all or part of the farm.

In this situation, if mom was between 60 and 70 years of age, it is quite conceivable she could live another 20 years. This young couple could be middle aged and have their sweat equity taken away if a negotiated agreement could not be established with the siblings. This happens too much in modern day agriculture. If action is delayed, the young couple could be better off investing time, money, and effort elsewhere, versus risking the loss of the farm upon transfer. Establishing working agreements is a proactive approach that would ensure each party is treated fairly and equitably. Please send your remarks to AgGlobeTrotter@accountlist.com. I would like to know what you are thinking. –David Kohl

Dr. David M. Kohl is Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Finance and Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), Blacksburg, Virginia. He has conducted more than 3,000 workshops and seminars for agricultural groups such as bankers, Farm Credit, FmHA, and regulators, as well as producer and agribusiness groups. He has published four books and over 400 articles on financial and business-related topics in journals, extension, and other popular publications. The opinions stated herein are not necessarily those of GreenStone FCS.

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Guest Column

What You

Must Know Before Purchasing

Agricultural

Property T

By Matthew J. Germane, PE, Senior Agricultural Engineer and Christopher G. Pare, CPG, Manager of Agricultural Group The Dragun Corporation

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here may be a silver lining for some in the current down economy. For investors in many agriculture sectors, it’s a buyers’ market and sellers are motivated; however, before “jumping” into this opportunity, it is critical for the investor to evaluate the environmental liabilities/risks associated with the prospective property before signing on the bottom line. Many industrial real estate transactions have become financial “nightmares” when the purchased property has “hidden” environmental issues that the new owner was unaware of at the time of purchase; thus, costing the new owner thousands to millions of dollars. Certainly, farm land is not industrial land with the same chemical risks, but there are potential impacts from prior farm operations that should be evaluated carefully to minimize your potential risk. Since 1987, the standard method used by bankers and prospective owners to evaluate environmental liabilities associated with non-residential real estate transactions is an Environmental Site Assessment (ESA). The industry standard “Phase I ESA” is conducted in a manner consistent with ASTM Standard 1527-05. According to ASTM, the purpose of the assessment is “to identify real or potential recognized environmental conditions (RECs).” What this means to the


...CEO Comments continued from page 2 purchaser is you should clearly understand environmental risks before entering into an agreement to purchase an agricultural property. This is typically accomplished by working with an environmental consultant and/or legal counsel. The environmental consultant will conduct several tasks to look for evidence or indications of environmental impact on the subject property. As part of the Phase I ESA, the environmental consultant will research historical property uses, review environmental databases, review historical aerial photographs, insurance maps, interviews with the current site owners, conduct a site inspection, and prepare a written report. The time to complete the Phase I ESA process is typically four weeks. Phase I costs vary by region and are largely dependent on the size of the property and past uses. For example, a Phase I ESA for an active crop field would be less expensive than a grain elevator or livestock facility. As with all professional services, lowest cost does not mean the “best� deal. Since farming practices differ significantly from industrial commercial operations, your consultant should be familiar with farming practices, rules, and regulations. If sufficient evidence/indications of RECs exist, then a Phase II ESA might be recommended. In a Phase II ESA, soil and/or groundwater samples are collected to evaluate the presence or absence of a REC. It is important to note that even if a site is impacted with chemicals such as pesticides (from a past sprayer spill) or excess nutrients (from a leaking manure holding structure, for example), the

concentrations of chemicals of concern would be documented as existing at the time of the purchase. If those chemicals are detected above applicable standards and the new owner will not be using those chemicals, the new owner may be able to obtain liability protection. However, there may be sufficient information gathered in the Phase II ESA to either renegotiate the price or to walk away from the transaction. The time to conduct a Phase II ESA varies depending on conditions; however, it typically can take an additional eight weeks after the Phase I ESA is completed. Phase II costs vary significantly based on the number of RECs identified. Lastly, it should be noted that a Phase I ESA cannot wholly eliminate uncertainty regarding the potential for RECs in connection with the property. The ESA process is a tool to protect the financial risks of both potential buyers and lenders and assist them to evaluate the environmental liabilities and reduce the environmental risk associated with the purchase. With increased environmental regulatory focus on agriculture, it makes good business sense to conduct environmental due diligence before purchasing agricultural property. The authors work for The Dragun Corporation, a multi-discipline environmental consulting firm located in southeast Michigan serving agribusiness and commercial clients across the nation and world. They can be reached by phone at 248-932-0228. The opinions stated herein are not necessarily those of GreenStone FCS.

building a new corporate office would be in the best long-term interests of the organization of all the options analyzed. The financial analysis completed to determine the effect the cost of the new facility would have on the organization indicated an inconsequential to minimal impact at worst, even in a declining economic environment. The board and management are convinced that while there are a number of storm clouds surrounding us today, this is still a good time to take advantage of lower interest rates, raw material, and labor costs. The American economy, agriculture, and GreenStone are all very resilient. Times will get better, and GreenStone will continue to be here in good times and bad to carry out its mission. I will provide you with more details about this project in the next issue of Partners. Also, I want to point out the article on page 14 about GreenStone’s 2008 Circle of Excellence winners. Each year, the association recognizes those relationship managers who have performed above and beyond the call of duty. GreenStone is very fortunate to have dedicated and talented team members like these on its staff. I encourage you to read the article and join me in congratulating these individuals on a job well done this past year. Without people like these and others, GreenStone would be irrelevant. The year is off to an uncertain start, but will hopefully continue to get better as we move through the remainder of the year. We wish you the very best this spring as the planting season begins and remember that we will be here doing our very best to provide you with the high level of personal service, competitive rates, and quality products you have come to expect from your association. Please feel free to contact me at dave.armstrong@greenstonefcs.com or 517-318-4105 if I can ever be of service.

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Director’s Corner

Meet Dennis Muchmore Outside Director, Michigan In a small town surrounded by corn in southern Illinois, Dennis Muchmore’s mother always said, “Give back to the community more than you’ve gotten out of it.” His service on several commissions and boards for organizations that he believes will make the state a better place to live is in response to what was instilled in him at a young age. The GreenStone Board of Directors is a natural complement to that tradition. Dennis is the Michigan Outside Director, appointed by your elected board to bring a set of specialized expertise to the board. Dennis has been on the GreenStone Board of Directors since 2002 and is currently serving a term until 2011. He is also the current Executive Director of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the largest state conservation organization in the nation; a founder of Muchmore Harrington Smalley & Associates, a Michigan corporation specializing in public issues management; was the Executive Vice President of DHR

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International, an executive search firm; is a Gubernatorial appointee on two Boards; and has also served on various boards and committees for several organizations throughout the state. Like Dennis, his family is strongly invested in public affairs. His wife is a Senior Vice President for a large public relations firm that represents international, national and state based clients, and his son is the Director of Governmental Affairs of eastern United States for Sprint. The Muchmore family is also an advocate of Michigan State University (MSU) because they believe it offers the key to the future. MSU is a land grant institution open to Michigan students and citizens and provides premier agriculture research, food safety, and high technology and energy development. “And you can’t overlook its great basketball, football, and women’s volleyball teams,” Dennis concluded.


How do you view your role on the board? I take my role as an Outside Director seriously. Both Bill Oemichen, your northeast Wisconsin Outside Director, and I believe very strongly that an outside director is supposed to bring a different perspective to the board while also encouraging the board members to look outside of their normal occupations and experiences. My diverse background aids me in doing this—beginning with the fact that I’ve owned three businesses. I know what it takes to keep people focused and moving in the right direction and I think this is part of what I can offer to the GreenStone board. I’ve also worked for an international search company so I know how to find and maintain high-level executives; from what I’ve seen, GreenStone does this well. And I have also managed a multifaceted organization that is complicated to run while keeping people happy; I know first hand how difficult it can be and I have been impressed with GreenStone. Together, all of these are areas of expertise that I contribute to the board.

What do you view as GreenStone’s strategy to stay true to its mission and vision? GreenStone has a phenomenal group of resources, such as AgriBank, who serves our Association as a wholesale lender and business-service provider. GreenStone, as much as any company, isn’t afraid to use its resources—both internally and externally. Our new CEO is a perfect example. He is certainly not afraid of the talents of his employees and, like all of GreenStone’s management, is pushing employees to make the most of their skills. From my business perspective, this is exactly what you want from your employees; you want them chomping at the bit, eager for the next opportunity and open to sharing their talents, opinions and ideas for the betterment of the company as a whole.

“I feel our customers need to look as far out into the future as they can, including the international markets. Agriculture has a phenomenal opportunity right now.”

GreenStone FCS customers encompass a uniquely diverse industry, what do you see as the key to their success in the future? I feel our customers need to look as far out into the future as they can, including the international markets. Agriculture has a phenomenal opportunity right now—it is expanding and succeeding—and I believe that is because farmers are looking forward and have decided that technology is their friend. They follow the markets, they buy futures and they hedge; they do things that people don’t always do in the financial industry. Many of our customers realize they can produce more and higher quality products by following better practices. I think technological and knowledge-based change will be very important to the future of our customers and the agricultural industry as a whole. As such, GreenStone needs to stay ahead of our members and be ready with the right information, products, and services when they need them. Our customers are intelligent people who make their own business decisions, but we must be innovative and responsive to their needs and help them continue to gain the knowledge they need to move forward.

From your vantage point, what has made the most significant impact on the agricultural industry during your professional career? Obviously, technological innovations come to the forefront. But I think the other most significant impact is that farmers have begun to look at themselves as business people, and they no longer look at their farm as a “right”, but as an agribusiness. They weigh the inputs and outputs, evaluate costs and advantages, access new equipment by what it is going to return versus cost them, and they know that innovation is important. They have adopted a business model for their operation and many do more business planning than most non-agricultural businesses. Those that constantly work at it will survive. Additional thoughts: I believe deeply in the GreenStone mission and its Board of Directors–this is a very, very good board. Why? Because they worry! They worry about whether the company is delivering the right products, they worry whether the staff is doing the right thing, and they worry whether they, as a board, are making the right decisions. This is something you don’t always see on a board. I also think very highly of the staff and expertise of those who guide the organization and carry out the day-to-day mission. This is a very good customer based, shareholder driven organization. I’ve never had the feeling that the Board of Directors, nor the staff, has lost sight of the fact that it is the customers first that matter.

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Young, Beginning, and Small Farmer Focus

Playing in the

Dirt Sustainable The

By Laura Moser

Employer By Luis de la Garza

As a self-described “poster-child for job burn-out,” Kelly Burkholder spent a lot of time daydreaming of a better way to make a living. For 13 years she managed a car battery business in southeast Michigan—a job she loathed so much she didn’t even enjoy her days off because she was dreading having to go back the next day. “I started thinking of what else I could do,” Kelly says. “I always loved plants so I was looking into buying a floral shop. Then one day while I was changing a battery for a customer I mentioned my plans and he tells me he has a greenhouse for sale in Huron Township. I went and looked at the place and ended up buying it.” Although Kelly had no experience running a greenhouse, her management and customer service skills, coupled with her overall desire to succeed, were enough for her to launch into the business. The greenhouse specializes in dish garden arrangements that are sold to floral shops and markets in southeast Michigan. “I love to play in the dirt,” Kelly says. “I work harder and longer hours than I did at the battery shop but I am so much happier! I think plants just make people feel better.”

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Although Kelly acquired the business from the previous owner, she has worked hard to build new customers and to strengthen existing accounts. She retained two employees, the key plant designers, from the previous business. Their expertise in the business, along with Kelly’s knack for customer service, has been her biggest assets in the business. Personal Service “I take care of the customers,” Kelly says. “I drive the delivery route everyday so I can talk to my customers and they can get to know me. We put arrangements together for customers that we know will fit the style of their shop and the owner’s tastes. My delivery truck serves as a mobile showroom for the customer.” Kelly’s business has grown so fast that she is not able to grow her own plants, so she buys the large volumes of plants from Florida. She also ships in a variety of containers for the arrangements. Kelly and a few employees work in the greenhouse caring for the plants and making the arrangements. “I love the one-on-one with the customers,” Kelly says. “Most of my sales have been through word-of-mouth


connections from other customers. In this economy people want that extra attention, they want to know you appreciate their business.” Since opening in July 2007, Kelly has doubled her customer base and increased sales to over 400 arrangements and 150200 individual plants a week during the busy seasons. Marketing to funeral homes and hospitals keeps her business somewhat recession-proof.

can’t believe how much interest they take in me. Julie calls and checks on me all the time to see if I need anything. Other banks just care if they are getting their money. I have never had a bank call just to see how I am doing.” The respect between Julie and Kelly is mutual. “Kelly puts everything she has into this business,” Julie says. “She has taken a lot of risk and worked hard to come up with innovative ideas to sell her product and it is paying off.”

Learning the Trade The previous owner of the greenhouse spent a few weeks with Kelly teaching her how to operate the 13,000 square feet of greenhouse, but most of her education has come from her own research and making good connections in the business. “Michigan State University has an awesome horticulture program,” Kelly says. “I can call them with questions and they are very helpful. They really want to help people succeed in the business. This type of helpfulness from the university and other greenhouse owners is all new to me. In my last business nobody helped each other, you were all on your own.” Kelly’s strong start in the business has her excited about the future but she is cautious to not get too big too fast. “I feel like I am riding a tide of good luck here,” she says. “Everything is going so well. But I don’t want to get so big that I lose that personal touch. I think that has been the reason for my success.” Currently Kelly is only utilizing a third of the total greenhouse space, the remainder is used for container storage and supplies. She hopes to be able to start growing her own plants for the arrangements but at the present time the orders go out so fast she doesn’t have time to grow the plants too. She is also weighing the cost of growing her own, including heating the greenhouses, with buying them wholesale. “It takes a lot of money to heat these greenhouses which is why only part of them are operating now,” Kelly says. “I have to look at the costs of maintaining the houses versus buying the plants.”

Lifestyle Change Buying the greenhouse business made for more than just a career change—it has also been a lifestyle change for Kelly and her two teenage children. The greenhouses were sold with seven acres and a house. So after living their entire life in the city, they now live on a dirt road several miles from the closest McDonalds. “The kids weren’t real crazy about the move,” Kelly says. “They were used to being able to walk down the street to the store or to a fast food restaurant. But overall it has been good. I can walk out the back door to come to work, which means I am here for the kids more. “I have gone from total job burn-out to loving what I do,” she adds. “It has not been easy but I think it has all been worth it, to be happier doing what I do makes my whole life better.”

Making the Dream Reality When Kelly began talking about buying the greenhouse, she knew her enthusiasm would not be enough to make it a reality. After being turned down by local banks, she approached GreenStone Farm Credit Services about a loan. “I had never heard of GreenStone until someone told me about them,” Kelly says. “I met with Julie Frost (GFCS Financial Services Officer) and she told me they had programs to help people like me. I couldn’t believe it. I call GreenStone ‘dream makers’. They made my dream here possible. I just

Kelly displays some of her greenhouse product.

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Loan Assistance

Avoid Third-Party Loan Assistance; Call GreenStone Don’t be too quick to dial that toll-free number on your television screen! In these days of tight credit, high unemployment, and increased mortgage foreclosures, that TV ad for mortgage modification services might look very attractive. Here at GreenStone, we take customer service personally, and we’d like to offer both a word of caution about offers that sound too good to be true— and a word of encouragement. GreenStone’s loan servicing programs may be able to meet your needs without the need for expensive third-party fees. When you call “their” toll-free number, you may be asked to sign an authorization for the advertiser to represent you in negotiating with your lender—and to pay a sizable fee up front, even before you know whether a mortgage modification is possible or whether it will be to your advantage. We think you’ll like the results at GreenStone’s toll-free number a lot better. We can discuss and offer the kind of loan modifications that take your individual situation into account, and we’ll tell you the terms—and sign the papers with you—before we charge any fees. And, best of all, at most you’ll pay only our fee—no high fees to third parties who may not understand you or your loan at all. GreenStone can service your loan with interest rate conversions for very reasonable fees; the fee amount depends on how long you have had your loan. Give us a call—we welcome the opportunity to discuss your credit needs directly with you, and to provide the exact kind of service you need. Contact your local office by calling 800-444-3276.

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February 20, 2009 Dear GreenStone Farm Credit Service s, We would just lik e to extend our he art-felt gratitude your company. Lik to e many people rig ht now, times are tough and a stead y, reliable income is becoming a rarit With my husband y. being self-employ ed and myself a sta home mom, when y at we found ourselve s in a financial cru we were afraid th nc h e first big thing to go was going to our home. But, yo be u surprised us grea tly by how much were willing to wo you rk with us and ge t us into a place (o payment rather) r that is now work able! With so man y stories of people losing their homes , it is nice to know there are still som e companies out there that actuall y care! We are singing yo ur praises to ever yone we know. Yo wonderful staff an ur d your commitmen t to your customer an encouraging sig s is n in these troublin g times. Thanks ag for helping us ke ain ep our dream alive ! God Bless. - St. Johns Branch Customer


News Update

News Update Get your License to Local American Farm Lead…Buy a Michigan Bureau Federation Ag Heritage License Plate Award Winners Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land is teaming up with the Michigan FFA Foundation to encourage sales of the Agricultural Heritage license plate. As part of the “License to Lead” campaign, revenue generated for FFA from plate sales between March 2009 and March 2010 will be doubled through pledged partner contributions.

MICHIGAN

The Agricultural Heritage license plate is symbolic of agriculture’s past, present and future. Revenue generated from its sales help fund the FFA Glassbrook Endowment. During this campaign, partner organizations will match the normal revenue of $25, thereby generating $50 per plate sold for the endowment. GreenStone is proud to be a partner in this “License to Lead” campaign, and a supporter of an organization which helps to provide leadership and career development to thousands of Michigan’s youth. Visit your local Secretary of State office to get your plate today!

Trade Show Prize Winner The winner of our $100 gift certificate to Tom’s Western Store at the 2009 Michigan Horse Council International Stallion Exhibition and Trade Show was Julie McDermid. She is a GreenStone customer and she owns and operates Forest Hill Horse Farm in Grand Ledge. Congratulations, Julie!

Winners of the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Young Farmer and Rancher contests were announced at the AFBF annual meeting in January 2009. Michigan and Wisconsin were well represented among the honorees: Chris and Jamie Demerly of Michigan were runners-up in the Achievement Award contest which recognizes young farmers who have excelled in their farming operation and exhibited superior leadership abilities. Nicole Reese of Wisconsin was honored as a runner-up in the Discussion Meet. The contest simulates a committee meeting in which active discussion and participation are expected from contestants who are evaluated on their ability to exchange ideas and information on the predetermined topic. Jeff and Alyssa Vander Werff of Michigan also received recognition. They were runners-up in the Excellence in Agriculture award category. It recognizes young farmers who do not derive the majority of their income from an agricultural operation, but who actively contribute and grow through their involvement in agriculture, leadership, and participation in Farm Bureau and other organizations. GreenStone Farm Credit Services and the Farm Credit System Foundation are strong supporters of these activities, both locally and at the national level. We congratulate all who participate and give special recognition to these local winners.

Spring 2009 PARTNERS

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Michigan Livestock Expo Debuting in July 2009 Michigan farm families and youth have an opportunity to participate in a new livestock show and auction that will cater to exhibitors from across the state and a variety of farm animals. Dubbed the Michigan Livestock Expo, the event will spotlight beef cattle, hogs, sheep, and goats, as well as the state's dairy sector, and feature a livestock exhibition July 17-19 at the Ingham County Fairgrounds in Mason and an auction of the show's award-winning animals and dairy products July 21 at the Michigan State University (MSU) Livestock Pavilion in East Lansing. The Michigan Livestock Expo has been carefully planned to coincide with MSU’s Ag Expo and the Michigan Dairy Expo. Those two events kick off on July 21, the same day that Michigan Livestock Expo activities culminate with an auction.

Interested exhibitors can learn more at www.milivestock.com.

Farm Technology Days Prize Winners Enjoy Cruise Last July, GreenStone offered attendees at Wisconsin’s Farm Technology Days an opportunity to enter to win a cruise. The prize was awarded to the lucky winners, Erwin and Elaine Waack, who

enjoyed their cruise this past February. The couple, who reside in Manitowoc County, are long-time Farm Credit customers. Congratulations Erwin and Elaine!

A PENNYSAVED ISA

PENNY

EARNED Accounting Software and Services provided by GreenStone.

Be sure you’re counting every cent. The financial experts at GreenStone offer the tools and services to make it easy. Call your local branch to learn more.

800-444-3276 • greenstonefcs.com

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PARTNERS Spring 2009


GreenStone Recognizes Top Sales Staff GreenStone Farm Credit Services recently recognized its “best of the best” in sales performance for 2008 with Circle of Excellence Awards. The Circle of Excellence Program is a way to recognize and reward those lending and financial services staff members who are the top performers within the Association. Various criteria including loan and revenue growth and number of new customers are used to measure performance. Platinum Awards were presented to the top 10 percent of GreenStone’s entire lending staff. While

Gold Awards were given to the next 10 percent of lending staff, as well as the top two performers in each of the financial services areas. Each of the winners, along with the support staff for all Platinum Award recipients, was recognized at the 3rd Annual GreenStone FCS Circle of Excellence Awards Banquet on February 20 in East Lansing, Michigan. The following GreenStone FCS staff members represent the 2008 Circle of Excellence Platinum and Gold Award winners.

PLATINUM AWARD WINNERS

GOLD AWARD WINNERS

Traditional FSOs Karl Kincade, Berrien Springs Dave Meyering, Cadillac Dennis Nykamp, Schoolcraft Rosanne Bloomer, Ann Arbor Tony Barcroft, Hastings

Traditional FSOs Duane Paturalski, Berrien Springs Gary LaMee, Corunna Lee Rodgers, Schoolcraft Ian McGonigal, Grand Rapids Paul Slagter, Hillsdale

AgriConsumer FSOs Jay Van Lannen, De Pere Cynthia Cole, Ionia Andy Kudwa, Ann Arbor

AgriConsumer FSOs Kim Cool, Cadillac Dave McKenny, Mt. Pleasant Sheryl Smith, Charlotte

Commercial FSO Dana Sue Kirk, St. Johns

Commercial FSO Tom Wilson, De Pere Accountants Keri Holder, De Pere Mary Sokol, Coleman Tax Accountants Nicole Wesoloski, De Pere Ralph Wesoloski, Coleman

Appraisers Jim Garvey, Charlotte Dennis Makula, Adrian Crop Insurance Specialists Gerrit deGlee, Adrian Terry Sorenson, Sturgeon Bay ALSO, TWO ADDITIONAL AWARDS WERE PRESENTED DURING THE AWARDS BANQUET. THEY WERE: Rookie of the Year Award Midea Porterfield, Bay City Most Improved Award Andy Kudwa, Ann Arbor Congratulations to all of the winners of the 2008 Circle of Excellence Awards!

Spring 2009 PARTNERS

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This newsletter is published quarterly for the customers of GreenStone Farm Credit Services.

1760 Abbey Road East Lansing, MI 48823

PARTNERS PO Box 22067 Lansing, MI 48909 517-318-2290 jim.nowak@greenstonefcs.com aaron.classens@greenstonefcs.com bill.eva@greenstonefcs.com melissa.rogers@greenstonefcs.com

TAKIN’CARE OF

BUSINESS Operating Loans provided by GreenStone. Business comes with expenses and we can help you cover them with a customized and easily accessible operating loan. Call your local GreenStone branch to find out more!

800-444-3276 greenstonefcs.com


Partners - Spring 2009