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Strong ag, local economy credited for Campbell Co. Bank’s strength

Posted 2/04/13 (Mon)

The Campbell County Bank completed 2012 in a strong position, which reflects the area’s agricultural economy, according to President/CEO Dean Schwartz of Herreid.
Year-end numbers show the bank’s assets increased to $108,873,000, and a loan volume of $53,645,000. The bank’s capital increased to $13,922,000 compared with $12,920,000 the previous year. In comparison, 10 years ago capital totaled $6,410,000.
Schwartz said it is important to borrowers, especially farmers and ranchers whose credit needs are increasing, for the bank to be strong with growing capital.
“The growth in the bank’s capital allows us to have higher lending limits to meet the growing credit needs of our customers,” Schwartz said. “A healthy bank is also a safer place for our customer’s deposits.”
He pointed out that the size of agricultural loans continue to increase because of rising operating costs, including land rent, and the higher cost of land and livestock.
Schwartz said the forecast is for continued growth in the credit needs of farmers and ranchers because of the growth in crop production and strong crop and cattle prices.
“The future of agriculture looks very good,” Schwartz said. “Our biggest concern right now is moisture. We need more snow and certainly some spring rains.”
He said the outlook for grain is positive because of strong export demand and domestic demand such as from ethanol production, which boosts corn sales.
Schwartz noted that production is increasing as land is coming out of the federal Conservation Reserve Program and being put into crops. Some pasture land is also being cultivated, some of it for the first time. He expects the trend for less CRP to continue as long as commodity prices are profitable for farmers.
He said that, while grain yields were down last year because of dry conditions, it was still a good year because of strong prices for both grain and cattle.
Export demand also brightens the outlook for the cattle industry, according to Schwartz. He said cattle numbers have been decreasing nationally.
Schwartz said he is “very concerned” about the Farm Bill and the uncertainty surrounding it.
“Farmers and businesses have to plan for the future, and it is a concern when we don’t know what kind of Farm Bill we will have after the extension of the 2008 Farm Bill expires later this year,” Schwartz said. “We’re protected for 2013, but we don’t know what will happen after this year. The idea would be for Congress to adopt a five-year bill to put some certainty in the mix for producers.”
He said federal crop insurance, which is part of the Farm Bill, is vital to protect farmers against weather-related crop losses as well as against major price drops.
Schwartz said the possibility of last year’s drought continuing this year is a major concern.
“This part of the country needs to go into the planting season with some subsoil moisture, and we’re short on that,” he said. “It’s the snow that usually fills up the dugouts for cattle, and you see a lot of dry or very low dugouts when you drive around the countryside.”
Schwartz added, “Pastures got beat up pretty good last year, and our hay production was down. We need hay to keep the cattle in the country, and cattle are still very important to our local economy.”
The rising costs of farm inputs, rents and land prices are also concerns.
“With high operating costs, we are vulnerable to commodity price drops and reduced yields,” Schwartz said. “While most things look good, there is also a lot of risk out there.”
Area economy
Schwartz said the area’s businesses have benefitted from the strong agricultural economy, and the region’s health rises and falls with agriculture. He said the business climate is “excellent” currently.
One concern involves the shortage of housing throughout Campbell County.
“We are in a position to grow in population, but we can’t do that if we don’t have places for people to live,” Schwartz said. “None of our towns have many empty homes.”
He said the Campbell County Economic Development Corporation will soon have the results of a housing study it commissioned. The housing consultant was expected to meet with the Campbell County Economic Development Corporation and the local development groups on Tuesday of this week. (More details on the housing study will be included in a future issue of the Prairie Pioneer.)
Schwartz said the cheese plant in Pollock is hiring, and the PIC operation has around 50 full-time employees. In addition, several other businesses have added employees in the past year. He noted the proposed wind farm in the Pollock area is scheduled to begin construction in 2014.
“Good things are happening in our area, and it is encouraging,” Schwartz said. “Prospects are much brighter than they were just five years ago.”
Schwartz said cattle and grain prices are starting to attract young farmers and ranchers to the area, but the cost of land and machinery and the availability of cropland and pasture are limiting factors.
“We’re seeing some young guys get into the cattle business, and that’s a very good sign,” he said. “These young people who are willing to work hard have a good future. Having young people come back to our area is good for everybody—including businesses, schools and churches.”
Board and staff
Directors and officers were elected at the Jan. 15 annual meeting.
They include: Chairman Bruce Brandner, Vice Chairman Bob Huber, Secretary-Treasurer Dean Schwartz and directors Myron Rieker and Troy Beck.
Officers of the bank include: President and CEO Dean Schwartz, Executive Vice President Earl Mehlhaff, Chief Financial Officer Bruce Brandner, Vice President Tom Mitzel, Vice President Dan Goehring, Cashier Susan Goehring and Loan Officer Brian Weismantel.
Staff members, in addition to the officers, include: Herreid—Kim Sjomeling, Kristie Goehring, Melanie Weisbeck, Sandi Ackerman, Brenda Larson, Melissa Weisbeck and Maebel Nieuwsma; Pollock Branch—Pat Larson, Ruth A. Borr and Barb Fjeldheim.


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