For the second day in our 30-day series, we’re going to stay in Northern Illinois. This time, we’re talking with Steve Shaeffer from Lee County.
Steve, who helps out on his family’s farm and also works for First Farm Credit Services, said his main job working as an agricultural lender isn’t just about securing capital for farmers — it’s about building relationships.
“I visit with customers and originate loans,” Steve said. “But really, it’s more about building relationships with customers so I know what they need when I help them get loans for real estate and equipment. Once that’s complete, I work more as a financial consultant as they’re deciding on making purchases.”
All of which sounds very…financial, right? As in, how in the heck does that relate to the food on my plate? For Steve, the connection is easy to make.
“Farming is a high-capital business,” Steve said. “It takes a lot of money to produce $3 to $4 per bushel corn. I provide the means to make sure my customers have the funds available to get it produced and get it to the right markets to be used to produce high protein products.”
Here in Illinois, those high protein products are things like a juicy ribeye steak or pork chop on the grill, since livestock are the strongest domestic market for Illinois corn, with the state’s livestock eating 118 million bushels of corn each year.
In a nutshell, Steve helps the customer get his or her product off to market in the most efficient way possible. And efficiency means dollars in the pocket — both for farmers and consumers.
“If my customers do really well, it helps the consumer get a more affordable product in the end,” Steve said. “And that’s rewarding. Ag is a very rewarding career. This time of year is very exciting — seeing the rewards of what you and your customers have worked hard for and put the hours in for. Some people spend years working toward one thing, but we do it in four months and you get to see what your rewards are.”
To see get the list of all the bloggers participating in this year’s 30 day challenge, head over to Holly’s blog at Prairie Farmer.
Jumping in a few days late? Check out the whole series so far: