The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.


First State Bank Gave Ag Customers An Evening To Sit Back, Relax & Learn

-by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill publisher-owner

First State Bank of Illinois has done it again!

They successfully produced an informative evening for customers and friends of the "Ag" industry while delivering it in a relaxing fun style.

Andy Bastert, Senior Vice President of First State was in charge of the evening and the main speaker was CEO, Chairman, and President of Big River Resources, LLC, Ray Defenbaugh of rural Biggsville in Henderson County.

Besides pioneering the ethanol opportunity to Midwestern Illinois, Defenbaugh is Chairman of the Board of Midwest Bank,, Vice President of Western Illinois Bank, Inc. (WIBI), President of the Patte Foundation in Warren County, serves on the Board of Riverland FS, the Grains Council, and a member of numerous other organizations.

He has traveled extensively at home and abroad and gave his insight from 40 some years of farming, 40 years of banking, and his working overseas which included teaching and market development.

He is a member of the board of the Renewable Fuel Association, Washington D.C. and has an active interest in community development and community preservation, ever mindful of the next generation.

While still involved in all these things, Defenbaugh's first love is farming, thus his involvement in numerous things that help preserve his farming heritage.

His family has farmed continually in this country since 1710, sixty some years before there was even a country.

He stressed the importance of working together. And in times like these, the critical importance that capital plays in the preservation of any business including farming.

An important point he made was that frequently in history, the rule book changes. It changed during the great depression, it changed during World War II, various recessions, and right now it has changed once again, in the recession in the demand for corn and grain.

It also changes with the environmental consideration - global warming, chemical usage, fertilizer application, tilling procedures, livestock permit, confinements, etc.

"You have to roll with the punches," he said, "and "have to be able to accept adversity and realize that it can provide opportunity."

Defenbaugh related the ups and downs of farming to a football game and the importance of staying focused on the goal. "Sometimes it seems you aren't gaining, sometimes it may only be inches gained, or you lose yardage. You have to regroup time and time again, and always stay focused on the goal."

"The problem may be in your goals," Defenbaugh explained in an interview afterwards.

"What do you value in life? If money is your goal, and you lose money, then you are disillusioned. But if family is your goal, and rural living, and values, then you can survive.

"Farming is no longer a way of life - it's a business" he said, "but if you treat it strictly as a business you get disillusioned. But when you add to it family, community, church, rural living - you have not lost those precious things."

"It is true, you have to make money to survive, but you find new techniques to preserve what you value, ....community development-family-church and all of that.

"If money is all you value then you have lost everything."

In closing, Defenbaugh said - you have to determine what your values in life are.

Then you have to decide what techniques you are going to use to preserve those goals and that value system that you hold.

Capitol preservation - networking together, staying focused - remember that the rules always change - be flexible along as those things don't conflict with your value system.

Defenbaugh said that In America, it has always been about a value system, but many lose focus along the way, or we have clouded our focus with entertainment, money, and greed.

"That is what has driven the result of what we see, and it is happening because we lose that focus and that desire to preserve our value system.

"No one wants to admit, we have gotten ourselves into greed and selfishness. Our eyes look outward - not inward. So many times we are seen by others more clearly. Where you really get the truth is in close relationships, and a friend will tell you. And, it is important to chose wisely our networking partners. Remember, you are judged by your friends and the company you keep.

Defenbaugh said, "If you hang around with liars - people will judge you to be a liar or you will become one.

"My practice is to associate with people better than I, so I can learn and grow from their experiences.  That is what I do."

He advises, "Don't hang out with those who drag you down, but associate with people who challenge you, and lift you up."

He gave examples of how Big River Resources, LLC has been successful as they followed these same ideals.

Setting goals, combining capitol with other like-minded individuals, being people of their word, and how the ethanol plant works to help the individual, the farmer, and the community. The ethanol board set three main goals:

1 -Preserve the community,

2 -Create jobs for young people,

3-Good return on investment.

And behind this all is a good value system of keeping their word. Although, they have met these goals, they continue to be proactive with weekly risk-management meetings for the future.

"We can't succeed fighting among ourselves, which draws attention to the enemy," he said. "It is important to work hard, work together, and keep our eyes on the goal, if you want to survive."

Big River Resources, based in West Burlington, Iowa is an Iowa-Illinois ethanol project that has expanded to a plant opening in Galva this year.

They have set up enough capital, that when hard times come, they are able to weather the storm. They not only produce ethanol, but also produce DDGs for feeding livestock, and extract corn oil.

"I tell my children not to sell their land, and not to sell their ethanol stock," Defenbaugh said. "It's their heritage to pass on to their children - the next generation."

Defenbaugh scattered humorous stories throughout his talk to illustrate his points and humor the audience.

Andy Bastert said 2008 was a busy year at First State.

March 10- First State Bancorporation, Inc. was formed.

April/May- several investors meeting were held,

July 31- Lamoine - Colusa deal was completed,

August- the Peoria loan production office opened,

November 1- "Western" was dropped from First State's name and a new logo was incorporated.

November 24- the Wheaton branch opened, and

December 15- the Colusa Bank merger was completed bringing the total banking assets to approximately $230 million.

In 2009, the bank plans to open a full service banking center in Peoria.

First State Bank of Illinois has kept its corporate offices in La Harpe, a home it has enjoyed since 1941, after spending its first 37 years in Burnside (1/9/1904) where it survived the Great Depression of the 1930s and prospered.

The bank moved to La Harpe where directors felt was opportunity for growth. It had opened in Burnside with capital of $25,000 and has seen remarkable success at around $230 million.

"Bauer Financial Reports, Inc. has awarded First State a Four-Star rating and a designation on their Recommended Bank & Thrift Report.

Adhering to sensible, conservative standards has kept First State safe and secure for generations.

Lending to businesses and individuals continues to be a hallmark for our bank - a quality essential to keeping our community strong and families secure in their homes," Ron Peterson, President of the Bank reports on their website at www.firststateil.com.

Ted Lung-Crop Insurance

Andy Bastert of First State Bank introduced Ted Lung to talk about crop insurance. Ted, a licensed crop insurance specialist, is acting President of Midwest Crop Insurance Service, since it evolved by the Lung family in 1992. The company is headquartered in Camp Point and has 18 employees. They provide the backroom and training support to First State Bank and its 8 licensed agents (Stu, Kevin, Mike, Ben, Anna, Jeff, Jay, and Andy). First State's team of agents (also loan officers) have the advantage of knowing and understanding the farmer's operations. "Our goals are aligned with yours:and we are not going anywhere," Lung said as he encouraged farmers to seek out their help from those who are routed in the community they serve.

BOB RHEA-AG TIPS

Bob Rhea, of Western FBFM, Camp Point, gave his 2009 Forecast for farmers and told of their "Significant Challenges" including *Operating Costs, Capital Purchase Budget, Marketing/Hedging, Crop Insurance Selection, Expansion or Reduction, and Interest Rates.

He also gave examples of value comparisons on the farm from a year ago to today as well as other interesting information to the agriculture industry.

VALUE COMPARISONS - by Bob Rhea

1 Yr Ago 6 Mo. Ago Today

FUEL $3.10 $3.62 $1.887

CORN $3.67 $6.68 $3.56

BEANS $10.74 $14.97 $9.87

NH3 $500 $1,150 $750

DJIA $13,371 $12,503 $8,168

PRIME 7.5% 5% 3.25%

TOP TEN AG STRATEGIES FOR 2009

10- Review Social Security Benefits

 9 - Evaluate Interest Rates

 8 - Develop Better Work Procedures

 7 - Make Crop Report Cost Strategy

 6 - Follow New Farm Bill Rules

 5 - Write A Plan To Restore Stock Value

 4 - Enjoy Time With Family

 3 - Study Real Estate Valuations

 2 - Be Aware of Contrary Indicators

 1 - Establish Key Management Team.

The meal was good, too., catered buffet-style at the Carthage Baptist Church Community Room.

First State not only were generous in providing a free delicious feast, but also in giving gifts at every place-setting.

The yearly commodity prize winner was Steve Haney who received a $100 savings bond. Other door prizes were given of centerpieces and First State VISA gift cards.

First State Bank of Illinois has corporate offices in La Harpe and branches in Blandinsville, Carthage, Colusa, Hamilton, La Harpe, Macomb, Monmouth, Peoria, and Wheaton.

Ray Defenbaugh - Biggsville, CEO Big River Resources.