Grower Spotlight: John Thaemert (Ellsworth, Kansas)

October 1, 2007

When John Thaemert isn’t sporting a suit and sitting behind his desk at the Citizens State Bank & Trust Co. in Ellsworth, Kan., he’s wearing jeans and working on his wheat farm a few miles down the road near Sylvan Grove.

John started working with investments and financial services in 1986.  “I feel extremely fortunate to be able to work in two industries I enjoy, farming and finance,” said John, who now splits time between the bank and his farm. “Farming is in my blood and there are many nice spring or fall days that I think about being in the fields while I am working at the bank.”

And if there’s anyone out there who understands the important relationship between farmers and bankers, it’s John.

“Rural community banks understand the needs of production agriculture and can be one of the best relationships farmers have,” he said. “Without yearly operating loans and cash flow, farms go under. And without farms, rural communities and small community banks go under, so we all depend upon each other.”

With stakes like these, it’s no wonder that John is getting concerned about the pace of current farm bill deliberations. The farm bill expires soon, and Congress has not yet agreed upon a farm safety net for next year’s crops.

“Farmers and their lenders need certainty to extend operating loans,” John explained, “but without a farm bill in place, there is little certainty about the 2008 crop.”

As the current president for the National Association of Wheat Growers, John has been vocal in asking Senate leaders to follow the House of Representative’s lead and swiftly pass a bill with a strong safety net.

“The time for Congress to act is now,” John contends.  “The ripple effect of farm policy has a dramatic impact on our small towns, and a well designed safety net for our nation’s food, fiber, and bio-fuels producers would be great news.”