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Twenty-Five Years Of Good Eating, Laughter, and Ag Strategies

"Well.....hi Andy!"

At left, Andy Bastert, First State Bank's Western Illinois Region President, is greeted by the extra-special keynote speaker Barney Fife of Mayberry who brought an evening of laughter and fun to their 25th Anniversary Celebration.

This 25th year was about celebrating.

Carthage - Farm customers at First State Bank of Illinois have enjoyed many a delicious meal and tips on farming for 25 years, thanks to First State Bank.

For 2012, their special 25th year of hosting "Ag Strategies Seminar," First State brought in a familiar guest, Barney Fife who kept the 205 bank guests who were gathered there, in stitches. His topic was "Don't Barney Fife Your Way Through Life - The Mayberry Method."

Barney Fife was played by Rik Roberts of Nashville, TN, who is a successful professional "clean-cut" comedian. Roberts portrays comedy from the simpler days of The Andy Griffith show, a hit TV series in the 60s.

Roberts said, you can learn life lessons from each episode without knowing you are being taught.

Besides the stories and humor Roberts shared, he also gave facts and figures to help realize how we "twitter" away our time, and how we are filled with distractions that cause waste in the work place and at home. He suggests making sure we do the things that really count, first.

Roberts used slides of characters from the Andy Griffith show and asked trivia questions of the audience, presenting DVDs or CDs to the winners. Surpisingly, everyone knew the answers.

Among the trivia, Roberts inserted lessons: "Nip (distractions) it in the bud," "who is your Ernest T. Bass?" saying 28% of the day is interruptions (every 12 minutes).

$650 billion is lost in businesses annually due to distractions."Focus on one thing at a time, Only 2.5% are successful at multi-tasking. He also said to "keep your bullet in your pocket," and stop acting on impulse. Finally, if you made the mistake, own up to it or it will own you.

Accountant, tax, and financial consultant Bob Rhea of Western FBFM, Camp Point, gave his 2012 forecast for farmers.

His ten points touched on everything from the late government enacted "temporary" tax rules becoming the norm to the Dow heading to 14,000, "Interest rates may increase 50%....but not yet," to "more downward pressure on corn and soybean prices?" and "Land prices drop down 20%" and that's okay, to "November 6th is a big day (election)," to "USDA Funding less general dollars, for more specific dollars," to "Continuing to battle with more regulations and rules followed with costs." Rhea's final and #1 strategy is a stress test for young producers mentioning dealing with things such as rising interest rates - if and when they happen, Rhea said.

"We're at a place we've never been before," Rhea said.

Interest rates are really low, he said, close to zero.

"Everyone thinks interest rates will be going up, but the Feds say "not now'"!

"I see pressure for lower prices and smaller margins," he said.

"For the 2010 crop, the average price at the elevator sold for $5.62."

If land prices drop 20%, that's okay," Rhea said, "It's just taking the cream off the top and we still have pretty good margin."

With the election, its a big day with lots of concern as the Farm Bill is expiring, etc.

Rhea said farmers will be borrowing more with a larger debt to asset ratio and it was important to have a very good Balance Sheet to know where you are today.

Bastert thanked all those who helped First State celebrate a quarter century of Ag Strategies,

"Our growth over the last 2 1/2 decades could not have been achieved without your trust in us, and for that we are profoundly grateful," Bastert expressed.

Bastert also congratulated their John Wood Community College Ag Scholarship Winner, Justin Wood of Bowen, noting the importance of the next generation of leaders and mentioned the "Young Farmer Financial Boot Camp" First State is offering in partnership with Crop Production Service.