One of the most recognized programs in the state treasurer’s office is the Ag Invest program.
Since 2007, Ag Invest has provided $1.9 billion in low-interest loans to Illinois farmers.
In 2015, however, interest in the program waned and we set out to determine why. We spoke with farmers, lenders, and others in the agribusiness community to better understand how we could serve them. We implemented their ideas so Ag Invest can meet the ever‑changing needs of the agricultural community.
What started in 2007 as conventional long-term loans for corn and soybean operations has evolved to assist U‑pick operations, organic farming, wineries, and so much more. Today, we again are visiting farmers, agribusiness owners and ag lenders to bring attention to the diverse ways Ag Invest can help them grow.
Consider a recent stop to a farm near Dawson, Illinois, outside of Springfield. The family farm is transitioning approximately 308 acres to an organic operation. That means it no longer uses chemical-based pest and weed controls. Even some of the machinery may change. Although the niche market for organic food is growing, transitioning is no easy task. It takes a lot of time, hard work, and most of all, money.
The transition would not be possible without the changes made to Ag Invest. Changes driven by the simple act of asking farmers and lenders, “What can we do better?”