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A Mission That Matters

Agricultural impacts on social good.

Landscapes Winter 2010

Every day, the dedicated men and women who work in the Farm Credit System are making more than just loans — they’re making a difference. Since the early 1900s, Farm Credit has been a reliable and competitive source of financing for the agriculture industry; which, in turn, feeds our nation and people throughout the world. It’s our mission, and it’s one that matters.

Andy Andrews, a prolific author from Alabama, tells of the time ABC News honored Norman Borlaug as their “Person of the Week” for saving the lives of more than a billion people. His crop research led to the development of plant varieties that could grow in arid climates, helping people around the world avoid starvation. His work earned him the Nobel Prize and worldwide admiration and respect.

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Andrews then suggests that maybe it wasn’t Norman Borlaug who saved those billion people. Maybe it was a gentleman by the name of Henry Wallace, who served as Secretary of Agriculture under President Roosevelt. As the head of USDA, Henry Wallace commissioned a research facility in Mexico for the purpose of hybridizing crops for arid climates, so people in impoverished countries could feed themselves — and he hired a young researcher named Norman Borlaug to lead the research.

Or maybe it was George Washington Carver, the famous inventor who developed 266 different products from the peanut and 88 different uses and products for the sweet potato; maybe he saved those billion people. While in college, his professor would bring his six-year-old son around and let him make rounds with George Washington Carver while he conducted his research. Maybe it was during this mentoring process that the six-year-old boy, Henry Wallace, caught a glimpse of what his future would hold and what was possible through plant science.

Or maybe it was a farmer and his wife from Diamond, Mo. — Moses and Susan. They lived in a slave state but did not believe in slavery. One night, raiders came through their property to burn and pillage; and, in the process, they kidnapped a young black woman named Mary Washington. Mary would not let go of her infant son, so they took both of them. Susan pleaded with her husband to do something to get Mary and her son back, which led Moses to a late-night meeting where he traded his best horse, all he had left, for their lives. Unfortunately, Mary had already been killed, but the raiders tossed Moses a burlap sack containing her barely living infant son. Moses and his wife nurtured the baby back to health, and committed to rear him as their own, give him a good education and their last name. This is how they came to raise Mary Washington’s son, George Washington Carver.

How far back could one go? We get the point: We won’t live long enough to fully realize the impact that the things we do today will have on future generations.

The great thing about this story is that it reminds us that what we do and the decisions we make every day really do matter; and it reminds us of the importance of being good stewards of the freedom we have to make choices.

People in the agriculture industry supply food and fiber not only to America, but to nations around the world; and, although they often don’t get the credit they deserve, the things they do and the decisions they make every day no doubt help shift and shape the lives of generations to come. It’s an awesome responsibility, and the Farm Credit System is proud to be a part of it.

– Stan Ray


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Farm Credit offers loans, leases and other financial services to those involved in agriculture and rural communities. Whether you're a farmer, rancher or rural business owner - we can help.

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