Tips for finding workable farm financial solutions

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Evan HahnA conversation with…Evan Hahn, Vice President of Credit, Farm Credit Mid-AmericaOCJ: There is growing concern for some farms with regard to securing enough loan funding to be able to plant a crop in 2016. What broad factors have contributed to this situation for some farms?Evan: With the end of the commodity super-cycle, farmers are now faced with commodity prices less than half of what they were just two years ago. At the same time, inputs, equipment and land rents have not dropped as quickly as commodity prices. This has heightened the need for farmers to maintain an adequate working capital position to help them weather periods of adverse economic activity.Farmers will need to proactively assess their financial position and determine if changes need to be made to their business model. If changes are necessary, I would encourage them to work with their lender to look at options and decide which ones may have the most beneficial impact for meeting both the short and long term goals of the farm.OCJ: What is your take on the farm lending situation for 2016 and beyond?Evan: This will be a challenging year for many farmers. Tighter margins will require farmers to closely examine each line item expense as well as capital needs, marketing and income strategies. This may well be the norm for a year or more, as producers adjust to lower prices and margins. The producers who are able to adjust quickly and in meaningful ways will be in a better position to handle continued adversity.Many younger or beginning farmers have not experienced a period of time with tighter margins. At Farm Credit Mid-America, we have a program for young, beginning farmers to obtain credit, as we understand the challenges they face. The program focuses on providing young farmers with tools to help them improve management skills, financial training, business plans and peer networking. All of these learning tools are available to customers who participate in the program.OCJ: What types of farm situations pose the highest risk of not being able to secure enough credit?Evan: Farms without sufficient working capital will find themselves in a difficult spot, and they may find it necessary to operate entirely on borrowed funds. While that isn’t necessarily a bad decision, it does limit options for farmers as they do not have the cash to make operational decisions throughout the production year.Other situations that cause concern are with those who cannot adjust their expenses or fixed costs quickly enough to avoid multiple years of true cash losses. While the recent past has resulted in tremendous earnings potential, we are now seeing farms that are experiencing significant year-over-year losses.OCJ: What on-farm factors are important to you as a lender in formulating credit allocation decisions?Evan: Management ability is an intangible that is always difficult to discern. However, management capabilities on the farm are crucial during times of economic stress. The ability of a farm manager to effectively incorporate risk mitigation strategies such as marketing plans, crop insurance, and the ability and willingness to adjust to the changing economic environment is vital to the success of the farm. This all starts with a deep understanding of their financial position, their risk appetite and the discipline to put together and follow a detailed plan to weather the current ag economic conditions.OCJ: In these times of tight margins, what short-term advice do you offer the farmers you work with?Evan: Be proactive in talking with your lender, don’t wait until the situation is in dire shape before having that conversation. Often, by having that conversation early in the process, there are multiple solutions that can be identified to provide relief to the farm. As time goes on and circumstances deteriorate, the options available may be fewer and more difficult to accept.Step back and objectively scrutinize all aspects of your farm operation and determine capital and expenses that are absolutely necessary, those that are beneficial, and those that are not vitally important to the ongoing success of the farm.OCJ: How does crop insurance fit into the mix?Evan: Crop insurance should be a key risk mitigation strategy for every grain farmer. With tighter margins and lower commodity prices, I would highly encourage producers to seek out a qualified crop insurance agent that can tailor a policy to their needs. This is another tool available to farmers to help them mitigate risk and formulate their marketing plan.OCJ: What are sound long-term strategies farms should employ for weathering tough financial storms?Evan: Know your break-even cost of production and have a marketing plan developed that will enable you to lock in a profit. If you find that your break-even is below the current commodity price, analyze ways that you can improve your margins by cutting expenses, improving production or marketing more effectively.Also, build and maintain a level of working capital that will enable you to weather periodic downturns in the ag economy. A minimum level of working capital we would expect to see is 20% of your gross farm income. During times of adversity, higher levels of working capital will provide a farm operation with more options.OCJ: Relationships are important in securing credit. What steps should farmers take to develop better relationships with their lenders?Evan: Be proactive in knowing and understanding where you stand with your lender. Find out what key financial ratios are important to them and update them annually at a minimum.Additionally, set goals for your operation and share them with your lender. Knowing where you want to be three, five, or 10 years down the road will help your lender understand your operation and can then provide feedback in ways to help you achieve your goals.OCJ: What is the toughest part of your job in all of this? I would guess tough lending decisions are no fun for anyone involved.Evan: Working with customers during times of stress can be challenging. It is important to recognize that farming is not only their livelihood, but for many, it is a way of life.  Treating customers with respect and being open, honest, transparent and realistic about issues is important. The lender cannot be all things to all customers at all times, but by being proactive, working together and treating each other with integrity we can oftentimes find workable solutions for both the farm and Farm Credit Mid-America.  The rewarding part of the job is finding ways that we can work with our customers.last_img read more

The 5 Best Places to Pitch Your Documentary Film Projects

first_imgIn this industry roundup, we’ve collected five of the best places (and resources) to pitch your documentary film projectsIt’s amazing what you can learn from someone who’s been there and done that. When you’re first starting off in film and video, everything about the industry seems so daunting. However, once you get into the industry and start building your career, you quickly learn that most people are just figuring it out as they go along — just like you.Documentaries have always seemed that way to me. Sure you can go shoot them for fun, but the divide between personal documentary projects and what you ultimately see on television and the big screen seems very wide — even if the quality of the content doesn’t.Luckily, I was able to pick the brain of a documentary producer who saw no divide at all. All that matters is what you know and who you know to talk to. The rest just comes down to making the connections then bringing good pitches (or finished projects) to the table.Public Broadcasting ServiceImage via fivepointsix.Perhaps one of the best first places an up-and-coming documentarian can look to pitch their project would be the good people at PBS (Public Broadcasting Service). These Public Broadcasting Services (in the United States, at least) are great champions of the independent documentarian. And while there is a national public broadcasting resource that is, perhaps, the best place to pitch, you can always consider local public broadcasting services and television stations well when you’re first getting started.Cable Television NetworksImage via CatwalkPhotos.According to my source, these can be some of your most lucrative and career-friendly resources for full-time documentary filmmakers. Cable television networks like the History Channel and National Geographic are always looking for new content, features, and series. If you can find a connection (it’s not impossible, they’re always looking for new pitches), these networks are great places to pitch documentary concepts and ideas. It helps to have a demo reel already, but they are more in the business of hearing ideas than greenlighting budgeted projects.Premium Cable NetworksImage via Microgen.Obviously, like all television, premium cable networks are changing quickly from traditional broadcast styles to modern streaming options, but some of the major “premium” cable networks like HBO and Showtime are still big players in documentary content. Similar to regular cable television networks looking for new ideas and series, HBO and Showtime (and HBO in particular) are often the gold standard for a documentary producer. They hear lots of pitches, but they are also often looking for already-finished documentary projects (usually spotted at major film festivals) to add to their broadcast and streaming libraries.Online Streaming ServicesImage via nampix.Now to the biggest players: the major online streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. The industry is quickly shifting direction, and they know it. It’s hard to see how the numbers add up because they don’t release box office-style stats, but we do know that they are all fighting with each other for the best new content — and that can often include documentary features and series. Pitching to them is not quite the same as the traditional media (although Netflix has come a long way in a short amount of time). However, if you have a good idea or an already great project, they are definitely worth pitching to if you can get their attention.Digital Content OutletsImage via guruXOX.If you’re into shooting documentary content that is less feature-length and more online-friendly, there are actually probably more avenues available to you than you’d think. Digital news outlets (like Vice — probably the best example) have been pushing online documentary content for several years now, looking to capture audiences on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. If you can create viral-minded content for these social media-based pages, then you may be able to build bit-by-bit from there to pitch to bigger agencies in the future.Cover image by Alzbeta.For more documentary filmmaking advice and insights, check out some of these articles below.7 Reasons Why You Need a Producer for Your DocumentaryInterview: Tips for Crowdfunding Over $100,000 for Your Documentary ProjectsHow To Find the Right Subject for Your DocumentaryInterview: Filmmaker Bradley Olsen and His FCPX Documentary “Off the Tracks”Documentary Editing Tips for Working with Lots of Footagelast_img read more

Army back in Darjeeling after 2 deaths

first_imgViolence erupted again in the Darjeeling hills on Saturday after two persons were killed, allegedly in firing by police and security forces. The Army was redeployed to control the situation, which turned volatile as pro-Gorkhaland supporters clashed with the police in Darjeeling town and adjoining areas. Tension gripped the hills after the death of Tashi Bhutia, a Gorkha National Liberation Front supporter, at Sonada. GNLF spokespers- on Neeraj Zimba said Bhutia was shot dead by security forces on Friday night. The police, however, said they did not have any report of firing. “We don’t have any report of police firing as of now. We are looking into the incident. We can give you details later,” a police officer said. Clashes erupted as the procession carrying Bhutia’s body turned violent and protesters attacked a police outpost at Sonada. A pitched battle ensued between the protesters and police. The protesters also set ablaze the Sonada station of the heritage Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. The violence soon spread to Darjeeling town with clashes at Chowk Bazar. Police resorted to tear gas shelling to disperse the mob, which allegedly tried to attack the office of Deputy Superintendent of Police. A second youth later succumbed to bullet injuries sustained during the violence. He is yet to be identified but is thought to be a resident of Singhamari. Clashes were also reported from Kalimpong where protesters set on fire property of the State Forest Department.Two columns of the Army, one at Sonada and the other in Darjeeling town, were deployed to control the situation. “One accident has happened at Sonada. This is because they attacked the police.. We will have to look into who is responsible,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said at the State Secretariat. Urging pro-Gorkhaland supporters to shun violence, Ms. Banerjee said she was ready to hold meetings with political parties in the hills in the next 10-15 days. “I am asking the administration and the people to exercise restraint,” she said.She asked protesters to allow the government to send food and other supplies to the hills.last_img read more

Five naxals held in Chhattisgarh

first_imgFive naxals were arrested from two places in Chhattisgarh’s insurgency-hit Bijapur district, the police said on Tuesday.While three cadres were picked up from Potenar village under Jangla police station limits, two others were held from the forest of Basaguda police station area on Monday, a local police official told PTI. Separate teams of District Force and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were involved in these operations.Those arrested from Jangla area are identified as Lekam Balram (38), Alma Rama (32) and Aalam Pandu (51) who all are lower-rung cadres, he said, adding that Balram and Rama were carrying reward of ₹10,000 and ₹5,000, respectively, on their heads.Two cadres who were arrested from the forest of Chipurbhati and Putkel villages are identified as Veko Podia (27) and Punem Hunga (27), both active members of Dandakaranya Adivasi Kisan Majdoor Sangthan (DAKMS), a frontal wing of Maoists, he said.They all were allegedly involved in incidents of torching vehicles, putting up Maoist pamphlets and posters and damaging roads, the official said.last_img read more

Police, students clash in Kolkata; many hurt

first_imgA clash erupted on Friday between the police and members of Left-affiliated students’ organisations who were marching to the State Secretariat. The protesters had organised a march to the State Secretariat to protest against rampant unemployment. The activists had collected lakhs of job applications from across the State and wanted to give it to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Violence started a few kilometres from the Nabanna building when police personnel lobbed tear gas shells, resorted to baton charge, and used water cannons to disperse the crowd. Witnesses reported seeing several injured and bleeding protesters. “Some of our students were seriously injured. They were protesting for the right to work and stood against disproportionate display of brute force by the police. I salute them,” Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and Polit Bureau member Mohd. Salim said.He also ridiculed the Didi ke Bolo campaign launched by the Trinamool Congress where people can call up the Chief Minister with their grievances. The CPI(M) leader said that when students want to meet and give deputation to the CM they are met with brute force.The CPI(M) claimed that over 60 supporters were injured and some had to be hospitalised. The police said that five of their personnel suffered injuries.Earlier this week, violence had erupted when BJP supporters marched to the Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation HQ in Esplanade demanding a reduction in power tariff.last_img read more