by Karen E. Culp
Farm Credit Services of Western Missouri is branching out. The Springfield office has taken over a former Mercantile Bank branch a few yards down from Farm Credit Services' existing office on East Chestnut Expressway and will move its branch facilities into the building June 1.
"There are 32 people in this building right now. When we looked at moving some people out, we came upon this property, which is ideal for a branch because it's much more accessible for our customers," said Daryl Oldvader, chief executive officer.
The branch will have six employees, relocated from Farm Credit Services' current facility, which is approximately 4,800 square feet. The new branch is 2,900 square feet and has been empty since Mercantile announced last winter it would close several of its branches as a result of consolidation.
Farm Credit Services may also have lease space available for a compatible business in the new facility, Oldvader said.
Farm Credit Services covers 53 counties in western Missouri and provides agricultural financing for farms and rural homes to more than 7,000 customers, Oldvader said. The company has an estimated loan volume of $765 million.
Established by Congress in 1916 to provide better financing for farmers, Farm Credit Services and businesses like it are now working to keep up with the myriad of changes in the farm economy, Oldvader said. Right now, farming is facing a crisis situation such as it hasn't seen in 15 or so years.
"What we're seeing in our business is more specialization because of the current ag crisis, and also because of the specialization that's occurring in farming," Oldvader said.
The number of producers in all areas of the agriculture industry is shrinking, and that trend has accelerated in the last two or three years, Oldvader said. With fewer producers and the risk in providing financing to farmers during less productive times, Farm Credit Services has to manage itself carefully, he added.
"We've been through these kinds of things before, and we know our organization is well-poised to deal with a lot of these things. We're well capitalized and we know our loan portfolio well," Oldvader said.
Farm Credit has also initiated a self-insurance fund to protect itself, Oldvader said.
The company's major focus is on farm financing, providing loan programs to livestock farmers and "row crop," producers, Oldvader said. Farm Credit also sells life insurance and crop insurance to its customers
Farm Credit Services of Western Missouri has 16 branches in its region.
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