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Rural Accountability

February 27, 2009

Holly Martin at the High Plains Journal hits on something I saw for myself  last year when she talks about how the bad practices of the banking industry (often at the behest of government) have led to some of the mess we’re in now.  And how shocking it is to those of us who know our bankers on a first name basis.

Part of the problem with our economy, I believe, is the lack of personal responsibility individuals have for their actions. It appears there are people all over this country who have never learned that each individual is accountable for his or her own actions. It seems we have drifted into a way of thinking where we feel that “it’s all good.” Or, “if it doesn’t work out, then someone else will fix it for me.” We trade long-term stability for short-term rewards.
Farmers go to church and sit in the pews in front of their loan officers. They serve on school committees with bank presidents. Farmers and ranchers and their bankers interact daily in their personal lives as well as their professional ones. And so, each has invested in the other. The bank has invested in the farmer’s business, trusting that he will do everything in his power to make it successful. In turn, the farmer knows his success is key in the future of the bank, so that it continues to be a resource for him and others in the community.

Talking to my banker last year, he would tell me banker stories from all over the state about farmers, emboldened by record commodity prices were requesting massive loans for new equipment, while the crop was still in the field, and inputs were rising exponentially.   The bankers were telling them no, after all they’re gonna see those farmers in the coffee shop if it all goes wrong.  How many lenders would’ve gladly lept at the chance at the opportunity to make some easy money, no matter the risk to the lender? Where would some of them be now, with prices in free fall and the economic situation grim?

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