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Plains Land Bank Distributes $6.75 Million in Cash to Customers

12th Consecutive Year of Returning Earnings to Borrowers

AMARILLO, TEXAS—Plains Land Bank will distribute $6.75 million of its 2015 earnings to borrowers in early April. Over the past 12 years, Plains Land Bank has returned an average of 23 cents of every dollar that borrowers have paid in interest in the form of patronage checks at stockholders meetings.

Plains Land Bank's borrowers are stockholders in the customer-owned lending cooperative and share in the earnings. Patronage is one of the greatest benefits of co-op membership since it effectively lowers the cost of borrowing. A customer with a 5 percent interest rate effectively pays only 3.8 percent.

Borrower Jimmy Uptergrove said, "The patronage payments at Plains Land Bank are great. They are paid in cash so I can invest it into my operation, use it for equipment on the farm or take my family on vacation. We're always excited to get our patronage."

"We've been able to pay patronage to our association members and that's been quite a benefit, a real plus and a nice bonus," said Board Chairman Don James, "It reminds our customers that they're part of the ownership and in a sense are rewarded for being a part of Plains Land Bank. It is all part of the great customer service people have come to expect from us."

2016 also marks the 100th anniversary of Farm Credit and 100 years of Plains Land Bank helping customers own a piece of Texas.


Stockholders Re-Elect Directors

Re-elected directors Don James, Dennis Babcock and Tim Stedje

At Regional Stockholder meetings held April 5 and 7, stockholders re-elected the following directors:

  • Don R. James, Place VII-Hale County
  • Dennis Babcock, Place VI-Carson County and Armstrong County north of the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River
  • Tim Stedje, Place II-Hansford and Hutchinson Counties

For 2016-2017 Don James will serve as Board Chairman and Walter "Rusty" Henson Chairman of the Audit Committee.


Plains Land Bank Stockholder Participates in 10th Annual Farm Credit Young Leaders Program

AMARILLO, Texas — Steven Ebeling of Plainview, Texas, recently got an inside look at how Farm Credit supports rural communities and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services. Ebeling, a member-borrower of Plains Land Bank, was among 25 young agricultural producers who attended the 2015 Farm Credit Young Leaders Program.

Steven Ebeling celebrating completion of the 2015 Farm Credit Young Leaders Program with Stan Ray
Steven Ebeling, left, of Plainview, Texas, attended the 2015 Farm Credit Young Leaders Program on behalf of Plains Land Bank. He celebrated the completion of the program in Washington, D.C., with Stan Ray, Farm Credit Bank of Texas Chief Administrative Officer and Tenth District Farm Credit Council President.

This is the 10th consecutive year that the program has shown young borrowers how Farm Credit's cooperative structure and unique funding mechanism enable it to help rural communities and agriculture thrive. Participants are selected by Farm Credit lending co-ops across a multistate region.

The program began in the New York City area, where the group visited a Wall Street brokerage firm and met with Tracey McCabe, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Farm Credit Banks Funding Corporation. There they learned how investors' purchase of highly rated Farm Credit notes and bonds supplies the capital that Farm Credit lending cooperatives put to work in rural communities. Nationwide, Farm Credit provides more than $227 billion in financing and financial services to farmers, ranchers, rural homeowners, agribusinesses, and other eligible borrowers.

Next the group traveled to Washington, D.C., to discuss policy issues with U.S. Department of Agriculture officials, Senate Appropriations Committee and House Agriculture Committee senior staff, and agriculture industry leaders. The five-day program also included a visit to Mount Vernon, President George Washington's Virginia plantation, where participants learned about our nation's heritage of agricultural innovation.

"For a decade now, each year's participants have demonstrated that the future of agriculture is in good hands," said Stan Ray, president of the Tenth District Farm Credit Council, which hosts the Young Leaders Program. "As part of our mission to serve rural America, Farm Credit has a strong commitment to helping young people in agriculture be successful."

Ebeling is a fifth-generation farmer and rancher who returned to his family farm in Plainview after earning a bachelor's degree in animal science from Texas Tech University. He has his own farming and cattle operations in addition to being very involved in the family operation, which farms cotton, corn, millet, sorghum, wheat and rye, and runs Angus cows and stockers. Like earlier generations of Ebelings, he is a Plains Land Bank member. He also serves on the board of the Panhandle Parade of Breeds, is active in the Lions Club and teaches youth at his church.

The Tenth District Farm Credit Council is the regional member of the national Farm Credit Council, the trade association representing the legislative and regulatory interests of the Farm Credit System. The System is a nationwide network of cooperatively owned rural lenders that have provided financing and financial services since 1916.


Scholarship Recipients for 2015-2016

Now in its eighth year, the Plains Land Bank scholarship program at West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) once again identified four outstanding individuals as scholarship recipients. Students were recognized at the WTAMU Ag Day celebration September 11.

2015 Scholarship Winners for Panhandle-Plains Land Bank
2015 Scholarship Winners for Plains Land Bank
Left to right: Steve Donnell, Plains Land Bank; Scholarship Winners Laura Beth Burandt, Kelsey Dawn Mires, Duane Schrade Thompson, and Braxton Ray Sides; and Shandi Leavitt, Plains Land Bank.

The program annually awards scholarships of $1,000 each to four deserving students chosen by the WTAMU Foundation. Priority is given to students with degree plans tied to agriculture, and who are from the Panhandle or South Plains. A family connection to the association is not a criterion for the scholarship; however, we consider it an additional bonus for everyone when it does.

Laura Beth Burandt calls Perryton home. She is a Senior Ag Media Communications major; her parents are Phil and Ann Burandt. Early on, Laura Beth worked on her family's ranch and was very active in 4-H. She attended Frank Phillips College, transferring to WTAMU last year. Raised on the family ranch near Perryton, she developed an early love for agriculture, and the people involved in it. Her goal is to obtain an education and ultimately a career that can help farmers and ranchers and keep her close to her ranching heritage. This is her second year to receive the scholarship.

Kelsey Dawn Mires is a Junior Agriculture Business and Economics Major from Plainview. Her parents are Darrell and Karen Mires who farm in the Plainview area. Kelsey has been active in various academic and other organizations receiving numerous recognitions, while in high school and attending Wayland Baptist University and South Plains College. She enrolled at WTAMU in 2013. Her plans following graduation focus on the business side of agriculture as she considers a career in agriculture lending or insurance.

Duane Schrade Thompson is a Junior Agriculture Education major, originally from Pampa. His parents are Steve and Kimberly Thompson. Schrade now lives in Hart with his wife, who is a teacher. A love for agriculture and teaching developed at WTAMU, a direct result of classes and the people he associated with early on. His post-graduation goals include establishing a career in agriculture.

Braxton Ray Sides is a Sophomore Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences major with roots in Canyon. His parents are Brandon and Angie Sides, who farm in the Canyon area. Braxton was recognized in various academic and athletic organizations in high school, including serving as an officer. He attended Amarillo College prior to enrolling at WTAMU last year. He is a member of the golf team and continues to work on the family farm.

For some students a love of agriculture developed early on, for others, while attending the university. Either way, these recipients exhibit a desire to learn more, and do more for our industry and the people involved in agriculture. The WTAMU Foundation has done another fine job identifying worthy students for these scholarships. Plains Land Bank is proud to support these individuals and wishes them well as they continue their studies. Plains Land Bank provides long-term credit to farmers, ranchers, and agribusiness in 17 counties of the Panhandle and South Plains. Offices are located in Amarillo, Pampa, Perryton, and Plainview.


Members Hear Good News at 2015 Regional Stockholder Meetings

This year's regional stockholder meetings, held March 31 and April 2, were marked by positive comments and reports of record-setting financial results, presented by Panhandle-Plains Board Chairman Randy Darnell and Chief Executive Officer Gregg Lloyd.

$12.7 Million Record Income

First off, Darnell announced record income of $12.7 million in 2014, and detailed the series of events that contributed to these strong results.

"Our largest income year ever was the result of profits on our retail side, and closing the books on an ethanol plant loan we had dealt with for some time," said Darnell. He explained that the retail side generated record earnings, a direct result of our borrowers' performance on their loans. In addition, the sale of the ethanol plant added some $1.7 million to the association's bottom line in 2014 and allowed the recapture of a significant amount of capital that had been placed into loss reserves some years ago.

$7 Million Cash Patronage

There was also more good news. Based on these excellent 2014 results, he said, the board and management were able to declare a record $7 million cash patronage this year.

"This returns 39 percent of the interest our borrowers paid on their loans in 2014," Darnell said.
Finally, looking ahead to the Farm Credit System's 100th anniversary next year, Darnell called on members to tell their neighbors, "Come to the Land Bank and let's grow together."

Seven Percent Loan Growth

Lloyd's review of 2014 financial results was just as positive. In addition to record-setting income, the association set a new loan volume record of $464 million, which represents 7 percent net growth from 2013. Lloyd described the 2015 cash patronage as evidence of the association's culture.

"When the association does well, our customers do well, and the cash patronage becomes a part of the board and management's culture for operating the association," said Lloyd. "It has been the board and management's choice since 2004 to pay our customers patronage 100 percent in cash each year."

Patronage Lowers Borrowing Cost

Lloyd described how the cash patronage has a significant impact on the cost of borrowing. Considering the average patronage is now over 20 percent, a customer with a 5 percent interest rate on their loan effectively pays less than 4 percent.

In closing, Lloyd assured members that Panhandle-Plains Land Bank is meeting the challenges of regulation, technology and competition, and stands ready to meet our customers' financing needs.

Hopper Retires, Miller Elected

At each of the meetings, the board recognized retiring director Ronnie Hopper of Petersburg, who had decided not to run for another term. The board commended Hopper for his 23 years of leadership and dedication to the association.

In the board elections at the meeting, Perry Kirkland was re-elected to Place IV and Rusty Henson to Place IX, while Lyle Miller of Floydada was elected to fill Hopper's seat on Place VIII.


Hoppers Selected for National Cotton Council Award

By Floyd County Hesperian-Beacon Staff and Media Reports

Hoppers
Petersburg farmer Ronnie Hopper and his son, R.N. Hopper, are among recipients of the 2015 Farm Press‐Cotton Foundation High Cotton Awards.

Petersburg farmer Ronnie Hopper and his son, R.N. Hopper, are among recipients of the 2015 Farm Press-Cotton Foundation High Cotton Awards. The Hoppers were honored at a breakfast last week at the Beltwide Cotton Conference in San Antonio, coordinated by the National Cotton Council.

Father Ronnie and son R.N. Hopper of Petersburg, Texas accepted the award from Southwest Farm Press. The Hoppers told the crowd that change is constant on the farm operation.

In 2006, their farm grew mostly continuous cotton and has since shifted to a rotation of cotton, wheat, and sunflower. The operation went 100 percent no till in 2008 to conserve water, soil, and other components.

One of the best moves a producer can implement to help farming success, says Ronnie, is to inspect and evaluate the farm on a regular basis. Ronnie told the crowd, “The best fertilizer in the field is the farmer’s foot – being in the field checking the crop.”

R.N. says weather is the biggest challenge on their farm located about 60 miles north of Lubbock with an annual rainfall of about 26 inches. In the worst of the Texas drought several years ago, the Hopper farm received just four inches of rain all year.

The Hopper family uses a no-till crop-production method it recommends to other farmers seeking more efficient water use.

The High Cotton Awards were initiated by Farm Press and the NCC 21 years ago to demonstrate that cotton growers and their families are concerned about the environment. The program is supported by a grant to The Cotton Foundation from Farm Press Publications.

“The High Cotton Award winners are some of the best cotton producers in the nation,” Greg Frey, Farm Press Publications’ publisher, said in a news release. “But they also do their utmost to protect the land, air and water. They represent the very best in environmental stewardship.”

Ronnie Hopper and his son, R.N., believe in no-till crop production, and predict it will gain acceptance across the Texas High Plains as farmers deal with the increasingly serious problem of a declining water resource. Reasons for no-till cotton production include soil and water conservation, energy and labor savings, and replacing organic matter in the soil. The thing that makes it work, they say, is crop rotation.

“The success of no-till cotton relies on rotation,” Ronnie says. R.N. notes, “We started converting to no-till production in the summer of 2006, and we became fully no-till about 2008. There have been only a few exceptions when we had to work new farms to level fields or take out beds.”

Technology, including herbicide-resistant crops, improvements in planting and spray equipment, and better varieties “allowed us to plant no-till cotton,” he says.

The result has been significant water conservation and improved soil, both contributing to better yields. Their success in improving efficiency and their commitment to creating a more sustainable production system were among the factors leading to the Hoppers being selected for the 2015 Cotton Foundations/Farm Press High Cotton Award for the Southwest region. Hopper knows the issues of water well. He also serves as an elected member of the board of directors of the High Plains Water District board and his jurisdiction includes Floyd County.

The Hoppers represented the Southwest in the High Cotton selection. Other High Cotton recipients were Rick Morgan, Corapeake, North Carolina, representing the Southeast; George LaCour, Morganza, Louisiana, representing the Mid-South and Mark Watte, Tulare, California, representing the Far-West.


Panhandle-Plains Land Bank Stockholder Participates in Farm Credit Young Leaders Program

Young Leaders Participants
Panhandle-Plains Land Bank member Ryan Wieck, left, celebrates the completion of the 2014 Farm Credit Young Leaders Program with Jimmy Dodson, chairman of the Farm Credit Bank of Texas Board of Directors, at Mount Vernon, Virginia.

AMARILLO, Texas — Ryan Wieck of Umbarger, Texas, recently got an inside look at how the Farm Credit System carries out its mission to provide reliable credit to agriculture and rural America. Wieck, a member-borrower of Panhandle-Plains Land Bank, was among 29 young agricultural producers selected from a multistate region to attend the 2014 Farm Credit Young Leaders Program.

The program began in New York City, where the participants learned how investors buy Farm Credit notes and bonds, providing the funding that Farm Credit lending cooperatives put to work in rural communities. Nationwide, Farm Credit provides more than $200 billion in financing to farmers, ranchers, rural homeowners, agribusinesses and other eligible borrowers.

Next, the group traveled to Washington, D.C., and discussed policy issues with U.S. Department of Agriculture officials, Senate and House agriculture committee staff, and agriculture industry leaders.

The five-day program ended with an awards ceremony at George Washington’s Mount Vernon plantation, where the first president embraced innovation at his farming and milling operations.

“As part of our mission to serve rural America, Farm Credit has a strong commitment to helping young people in agriculture be successful,” said Stan Ray, president of the Tenth District Farm Credit Council, which hosted the ninth annual Young Leaders Program. “These impressive participants were selected by their lending cooperatives because they represent the future of agriculture, and we want them to know the role Farm Credit plays in their industry and communities.”

A fourth-generation farmer, Ryan Wieck farmed on leased land for several years before buying land in 2013 with the help of Panhandle-Plains Land Bank, where his parents and grandparents were also customers. He grows cotton, grain sorghum, wheat, hay grazer and corn, including some crops on irrigated land, and also farms in partnership with his father. He also is a volunteer district fire chief and EMT for the Randall County Fire Department, and serves on the Randall County Farm Bureau board and the Randall County Crops and Beef Cattle Committee.

The Tenth District Farm Credit Council is the regional member of the national Farm Credit Council, the trade association representing the legislative and regulatory interests of the Farm Credit System. The System is a nationwide network of cooperatively owned rural lenders that have provided financing and related services for the agriculture industry since 1916.


Scholarship Recipients for 2014-2015

The Ag Day Celebration is a special event for West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) in Canyon. Held September 5th, one highlight is recognition of scholarship winners for the year. Panhandle-Plains Land Bank awards 4-$1,000 scholarships to Junior or Senior students each year; this is the 7th year that the association has awarded scholarships. Recipients are chosen by a committee from within the WTAMU Foundation. Criterion for the scholarship includes students with degree plans from within the College of Agriculture, and who graduated from high school in the association's service territory.

2014 Scholarship Winners for Panhandle-Plains Land Bank
2014 Scholarship Winners for Panhandle-Plains Land Bank
Left to right: Sara Jo Miller, Laura Beth Burandt, Cory Bruce, Vice President, Ashlee Marie Adams, Madilyn Elizabeth Shults.

Sarah Jo Miller is a Junior Ag Media Communications major from rural Floyd County. Her parents are Lyle and Tresa Miller. Sara Jo received academic honors at high school and while at WTAMU. She is active in athletics and activities within the Ag Media Communications Department, serving as Editor of the Agricultural Communications of Tomorrow publication. Describing herself as a “farmer's daughter with a love of agriculture," Sara wants to use her education to help give farmers and ranchers a voice they need to protect their livelihood.

Laura Beth Burandt calls Perryton home. She is a Junior Ag Media Communications major; her parents are Phil and Ann Burandt. Laura Beth was very active in 4-H prior to attending Frank Phillips College, then enrolling at WTAMU this year. Raised on the family ranch near Perryton, she developed an early love for agriculture, as a profession and lifestyle. Her goal is to obtain an education and ultimately a career that can to help farmers and ranchers and keep her close to her ranching heritage.

Ashlee Marie Adams is a Junior from Canyon. She is an Animal Science, Pre-Veterinary Medicine major. Her parents are Chris Adams and Tammy Adams. Ashlee is active in scholastic and other organizations, and has achieved recognition for her academic efforts. A long-time love of animals and a summer job at a local veterinary clinic convinced her that this was the career path meant for her.

Madilyn Elizabeth Shults is a Junior from Pampa. Her parents are Wendell and Charla Shults. She is an Agriculture Education major with plans to be a high school agriculture science teacher and ultimately pursue her Master's degree in Agriculture. Describing herself as a woman who loves agriculture, but did not grow up on the farm, her goal is to show that anyone can be involved in agriculture. Madilyn has received a number of academic recognitions and awards; this is her third year to receive a scholarship from the association.

These recipients exhibit a love of agriculture as their chosen field of study and in extracurricular activities. The WTAMU Foundation has done another fine job identifying worthy students for these scholarships. Panhandle-Plains Land Bank is proud to support these individuals and wishes them well as they continue their studies. Panhandle-Plains Land Bank provides long-term credit to farmers, ranchers, and agribusiness in 17 counties of the Panhandle and South Plains. Offices are located in Amarillo, Pampa, Perryton, and Plainview.


The Ag Banking Online App is Now Available for Your Smartphone or Tablet

We are pleased to announce that the Ag Banking Online App is now available for your smartphone or tablet. It is available to download for the Apple (App Store) or the Android (Play Store). The App User Guide is available from our Ag Banking Online Documents page.


Panhandle Plains Land Bank Election Results

At Regional Stockholder meetings held March 31 and April 2, stockholders re-elected the following directors:

  • Perry Kirkland, Place IV
  • Rusty Henson, Place IX
  • Lyle Miller, Place VIII

For 2014-2015 Darnell will serve as Board Chairman and Krienke Chairman of the Audit Committee. Additional information regarding the stockholder meetings will be placed in the summer issue of Landscapes magazine.


Area Students Recognized for 2013 - 2014

Scholarship Winners 2014
Pictured left to right: Steve Donnell, Senior VP, Travis Miller, Natalie Pugh,
Madilyn Shults, Shandi Jade Leavitt, and Cory Bruce, Chief Credit Officer.

Four students at West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) received the association’s annual scholarships for 2013-2014. This is the sixth year of the scholarship program which recognizes upper class students from the panhandle and south plains with a $1,000 award. Students are chosen by the WTAMU Foundation with priority given to area students studying some facet of agriculture. The recipients are announced at the Ag Day event on September 7, this year the winners are:

Madilyn Elizabeth Shults from Pampa, a junior agriculture education major. This is her second time to receive the award.

Natalie Nicole Pugh from Abernathy, a sophomore agriculture media and communication major.

Travis Jack Miller from Booker, a senior agriculture major.

Shandi Jade Leavitt from Wildorado, an agriculture media and communication major.

These students push themselves to excel in the classroom and with extracurricular activities beneficial to their college experience. The foundation has done another fine job identifying students the association is proud to recognize. The association wishes these students success as they continue their college career.

Steve Donnell
Pictured left to right: Steve Donnell, his wife Denise, and Dr. Don Topliff,
Dean of the College of Agriculture, Science and Engineering.

Steve Donnell Recognized

At the Ag Day event on September 7, the Agriculture Department recognized Steve Donnell from the Amarillo office as one its First Choice award winners.

According to the University Foundation, “The honoree must be successful in his or her profession while being easily identified with West Texas A&M University. The honoree should have contributed to WTAMU Agriculture in leadership, volunteer service, participation in campus activities, or financial support. The honoree should be an advocate for West Texas A&M University in his or her professional duties and community activities.”

The association is proud for Steve and appreciates the university for this recognition; and the relationship between Panhandle-Plains Land Bank and West Texas A&M.