ABA Banking Journal - December 2013 - (Page 40)

first person Nate Franzen From corn and beans to tea and cinnamon Ag lender's willing expertise takes him to Sri Lanka "As a kid growing up on a farm in South Dakota, I never would have foreseen how international our industr y has grown," says Nate Franzen. Yields, markets, and weather around the globe influence nearly every aspect of agriculture and ag finance, but Franzen's own career recently took an unexpected turn-one that brought him over 9,000 miles from home. In August, Franzen, president of the agribusiness division at First Dakota National Bank, Sioux Falls, found himself in Sri Lanka, the island nation off the tip of India. American ag lender Nate Franzen visited Sri Lankan He was on a field trip that included tea factories like the one pictured above during a tour stops at tea and cinnamon factories. sponsored by the World Bank's AgriFin program. He also saw rubber tree plantations and small peasant-owned farms. "It looked like they do a lot of lenders find ways to adapt. One manual labor," compared to the mechanization of typical American farms, says method is to provide financing to Franzen. Following a long civil war that continues to reverberate, islanders look processing firms, rather than directly to the future, he says. "People are very focused on building up an economy. You to farmers. This enables the producgot the feeling there that in ten years, they will be a long way down the road." tion chain to occur, while giving lendIndeed, Sri Lanka's violent history gave Franzen pause, but some assurances ers a source of repayment. By conof safety, and the purpose of the trip, got him on the plane. Franzen's journey trast, says Franzen, most of his bank's began when representatives of the World Bank's Agriculture Finance Support credits are directly to producers. Facility (AgriFin) program contacted him on the recommendation of John AgriFin brought a multinational Blanchfield, senior vice-president at ABA. The purpose of AgriFin-funded group of lenders and foreign bankers' by a $20 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-is to foster association reps to the ABA National development of sustainable access to ag financing in the developing world. Agricultural Bankers Conference in At first, Franzen was providing information to the program, and then came November. Many delegates traveled an invitation to attend AgriFin's Financing Agriculture Forum in Sri Lanka's to Franzen's bank and ag locales. capital, Colombo. Initially, planners-who also arranged the field trip-had The developing world's ag banking hoped to have Franzen meet the 100-plus delegates one-on-one, and help challenges moved Franzen: "In the develop an ag finance benchmarking approach. But then he was drafted to serve United States, we talk about unceron a formal panel about development of experienced ag lending teams. First tainty and politics. But we don't realNational has been a noted force in farm finance for years, so it was a natural fit. ly know what uncertainty is." Franzen says he learned as much about other commercial bankers' challenges -Steve Cocheo, executive editor & in ag lending in developing countries as they learned about U.S. methods. "In digital content manager many of these countries, they don't have private ownership of land, or they For more on the AgriFin program, may not have strong judicial systems," he says. In some countries, lenders face go to www.agrifinfacility.org/ the potentiality of government-decreed debt forgiveness. As a result, creative 40 | ABA BANKING JOURNAL | December 2013 http://www.agrifinfacility.org/

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ABA Banking Journal - December 2013

Chairman's View
Editor's Column
Bank Notes
Picture This
Is wealth management a good fit?
Tech Topic
What's Ahead?
New diversity standards cover workplace and suppliers
Compliance Inbox
ABA At Your Service
Legal Issues
First Person

ABA Banking Journal - December 2013

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