Tillable extends farm operating loans program across the US

Capital markets lead Kavitha Sampath says non-operating landowners are among potential customers for rural loans being offered in partnership with Compeer Financial and Evergreen Bank.

Investors are among the potential clients for the loan offering online farm real estate platform Tillable has extended to customers across the US.

The expansion into credit has seen Tillable work with a variety of customer types, including individual operators and farmland investors, Kavitha Sampath, Tillable head of farm financing and capital markets lead, told Agri Investor.

“Our goal is to make access to capital easy, efficient and secure for any rural farmer or non-operating landowner,” she said. “We see quite a few people who are non-operators, who are high-net-worth, coming into the space to diversify. Our loan option is a great option for them.”

The digital farm loan application for operating facilities of between $5,000 and $1 million on terms of 12 to 16 months is being offered in partnership with Wisconsin-headquartered Farm Credit System lender Compeer Financial and Evergreen Bank, a commercial bank headquartered in Illinois. The loan application process promises answers within minutes, customer support by phone and follows a previous entry into the provision of farm mortgage loans of up to $2.5 million through Tillable.

The Chicago-headquartered company raised $8.3 million in a March 2019 Series A led by food and agtech incubator The Production Board alongside First Round Capital, a seed stage venture capital firm headquartered in Philadelphia. Tillable operates an online marketplace connecting landowners and a network of at least 5,000 potential tenants through a system that allows them to negotiate digital leasing agreements and land sales, track and share performance data and manage payments.

The company introduced a cash-rent loan in fall 2020 and expanded into the provision of real estate loans the next fall, before beginning early steps into offering operating loans to Midwest customers in July 2022. Since late last year, Sampath said, Tillable has opened its loan applications to potential customers in all 50 states.

The expansion into both operating and real estate loans began with a focus on the Midwest, she added, and grew naturally from the process of helping customers execute farmland leases online though the Tillable platform.

“It’s been really gratifying to see a good uptick from people in the Northeast, Southeast and out west in California responding to the digital tool,” said Sampath, who joined Tillable in 2019 after holding analyst and investment banking positions at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, according to her LinkedIn profile.

“Because we are such a small company and a new entrant into lending, the demand is really based on our outbound marketing, at this point. We do get quite a bit from the upper and outer Midwest – the Dakotas, Nebraska, Ohio, Indiana and obviously Illinois and Missouri, where our brand is the strongest – and we do get quite a bit of interest from California as well.”

There are no origination fees on operating loans offered through Tillable’s platform, which carry credit-adjusted interest rates currently around an average of around 7 percent. The immediate approval or denial option it offers is unique in the market, according to Sampath.

“We’ve been focusing on just creating an easier and more efficient user experience and connecting to valuable partners like Compeer and Evergreen, whose customer service efficiency and access to capital is obviously really strong,” she added.