Dairy Financing Conference strikes a chord with producers

Hoard's Dairyman: 

Dairy Financing Conference strikes a chord with producers

Fri, 02/25/2011

The size of the turnout spoke volumes about interest in the subject material at the “Dairy Financing Conference" February 22 in Visalia, Calif.

Over 120 people – dairy owners, bankers, co-op leaders, and those who do business with dairies – turned out for the one-day event and came away with a wealth of insight about the new reality of ag lending and the relationships that exist between lenders and borrowers.

It’s an event that should have been held 30 years ago and repeated every one or two from now on, to update everyone about constantly evolving situations and circumstances on both sides of the process.

Audience questions were repeatedly encouraged throughout presentations by bankers, accountants, attorneys, consultants, and dairy vendors. The atmosphere was informal, informative, and extremely candid about a subject that producers hopefully won’t experience: bankruptcy. There was an overload of information to digest, but there were several clear take-home messages:

• There is no such thing as too much communication and transparency between producers and their lenders, and there is no such thing as talking about an idea or concern too early.

• U.S. dairy producers are an undeniable part of the global market; there is no going back, and their involvement is only going to grow.

• Neither dairying nor dairy lending is going away.

• Lenders do want to get their money back.

• Margin volatility is only going to increase.

• The new reality for the dairy industry is that producers must position themselves to survive downturns so they can benefit from upturns.

• It is now necessary for monitoring and updating of dairy performance, projections, and budgets to be a constant process. Forget annual updates; quarterly reports are the absolute minimum.