Banker sees success with specialty market, off-farm income
A small-town banker at Wendell, Minn., says focusing on marketing and cost control are helping some farmers stay financially viable during low commodity prices. And an extra source of off-farm income or value-added enterprise can help.
WENDELL, Minn. -- Jeremy Schreiber is vice president and branch manager for the Eagle Bank branch in Wendell, a fixture in the western Minnesota town for about 100 years with about 80% of its loans in agriculture.
Schreiber graduated from Campbell-Tintah High School in 1994 and went on for a degree in agricultural economics from North Dakota State University in Fargo in 1998. In 1999, he took a series of positions as a loan officer by the Farm Service Agency in Minnesota, working in Benson in Swift County and Slayton in Murray County. In 2003, he worked as an ag lender Citizens Bank and Trust at Hutchinson, Minn., until December 2006. He worked at Wells Fargo Bank in Barnesville and Rothsay from 2006 to 2009.
“I farmed for a while when (commodity) prices were really good,” Schreiber says. “That timed out pretty well, so I could get by on 60 acres.” In 2013, he took his current job. He lives at Foxhome, Minn., with his wife, who works in Breckenridge, Minn., where their two children go to school.
Eagle Bank is owned by the Gandrud family of Glenwood, with founder Dick Gandrud and sons Erick and Jon. Ag loans at the bank are for operating and equipment purchase, as well as real estate.
Commodity farmers today have a better chance who also have a specialty crop such as dry edible beans, seed or value-added market, or some side skill such as welding, or off-farm income from a spouse. “Most of what I’ve seen for success around here has been a secondary income stream,” Schreiber says. Schreiber notes that he farms 500 acres and works at the bank.
Profit margins are very thin, and it’s important to focus on marketing and cost control. “Not a lot of machinery is being purchased -- a lot of repairs,” he said. “I think the farm business management people are saying that’s a big growth item on the expense sheet.”