Supporting the Farms that Feed Us

Hard-working farms in Idaho and Lewis Counties help to put pork, chicken, beef, and lamb on families’ dinner tables. They also produce wheat, barley, chickpeas, canola, and other pulse crops.

When it’s time to get ready for the growing season, farmers know they can count on their financial partners at Cottonwood Community Federal Credit Union for production loans that they’re able to pay off within a year once they sell their crops.

Farming is a capital-intensive business, and Cottonwood Community also funds building and equipment-related farm loans. Supporting agriculture is a big part of the credit union’s mission – half of its business loan portfolio — and that’s not going to change.

“There are lenders who are in and out of ag lending,” said Greg Sonnen, President and CEO. “If the market looks good, they try it, and then they’re quick to bail if not. But bailing is not an option for us, nor do we want to. We know these farmers. We live in the community with them. We want them to succeed.”

That may mean extending more lenient credit than a for-profit financial institution would be willing to, but Sonnen says the Board of Directors is very supportive of Cottonwood Community’s lending strategy. And the $150 million-asset credit union serving nearly 6,000 members, is financially strong.

In the past few years, three large banks have shuttered branches in the area. But that really didn’t faze the farmers. Cottonwood Community’s local roots matter.

“We have local loan officers that work with our members directly,” Sonnen said. “We’re right here. Most farmers like to bounce ideas off their loan officers. They can walk in and talk to them. That’s a big plus.”

That personal service touch certainly is a big plus. Credit unions are in the “People Helping People” business!

Posted in Community Impact.