An Inside Look at Agricultural Lending

Posted on Aug 20th, 2019
Nathan Levan

The author of this blog, Nathan Levan (pictured above), joined Mid Penn Bank’s Agricultural Lending team two years ago and has been learning the industry’s ins and outs since then. Nathan shares with us his experience as a part of the team and his perspective on the state of Agricultural Lending today.

Stan in Field
Stan Michonski, Mid Penn Bank Senior Agricultural Lender, inspects a growing crop of produce on the organic farm of a customer in Lancaster County.

Did you know: more than 25% of the total acreage in Pennsylvania belongs to working farms? Central Pennsylvania, where Mid Penn Bank is headquartered, has long been a highly agricultural area. As a result, the Bank has developed a robust Agricultural Lending arm, working in our agrarian communities to support their financial needs.

I began my journey in Agricultural Lending two years ago and since then I have been constantly learning from the rest of the Agricultural Lending team. There’s three other members of the team: Stan Michonski, Jeff Myers and Jeff Stanko; together, they have nearly 60 years of experience in Agricultural Lending. I have recently started joining them on calls and meetings with customers which I find very exciting and interesting. During one of these calls, I met a customer who was seeking financing for construction of a chicken house. About a year later, I met this gentleman again and saw the finished construction. We toured the facility and this was the first experience I had where I got to see the beginning and the end of a project. It really brought everything we do in Agricultural Lending full circle and this project reassured me that I was excited to be in this career path.

Mid Penn Bank Agricultural Lending team (L to R): Stan Michonski, Nathan Levan, Jeffrey Stanko, Jeffrey Myers pictured in an Agricultural Lending customer’s cornfield.

From the time I was 13 years old, agriculture has always been of interest to me. I grew up in a rural area at the edge of Northumberland County so I was surrounded by farming and construction. I was intrigued by agriculture and all of the exciting aspects of it. Eventually, I began working on a local game farm to learn more about the subject. I was working with Mid Penn Bank in the credit department and when I saw the job opening for someone to specialize within the agricultural department, I was intrigued and applied right away.The aspect of Agricultural Lending I enjoy the most is the customers. Each and every customer is unique, their needs are unique and the solutions we offer them are unique. Every deal and every situation is different.  I’m learning and encountering something new every single day and it keeps me on my toes!

Inside of a greenhouse on the organic farm of a Mid Penn Bank Agricultural Lending customer.

While people have been farming for thousands of years, agriculture continues to change. There are many challenges that face the Agricultural community such as: bad weather conditions, a slower or slowing market, keeping up with technology, trends in the industry or just simply any unforeseen setbacks. Our team is always trying to figure out ways to help the customer. Our approach is that we are not just providing lending support for our customers but we are acting almost as an advocate; providing the customer with information, suggestions and resources or putting them in contact with specialists to provide them with the help they may need. Our main goal is to let the customers know that we are here to help and we want to help them succeed.

New advancements in agricultural technology are constantly impacting the Agricultural Lending community. The advantage for our customers is that, through any type of change, we’re there every step of the way.  We provide guidance and support wherever we can:  specialized financing, helping the startup of a new operation or helping a fifth generation farm transition into the next generation. Agriculture is a significant part of our everyday lives and of Pennsylvania’s economy, and it impacts the livelihood of many people in local communities. The Agricultural Lending team and I want to see it flourish!

Mid Penn Bank Agricultural Lending team (L to R): Jeffrey Myers, Jeffrey Stanko, Nathan Levan and Stan Michonski pictured in front of an Agricultural Lending customer’s chicken houses in Lancaster County.