The last time I was in New York City, it was not to see the sights, but to experience how people around the world invest in rural America through the Farm Credit System.
In short, local Farm Credit institutions are able to lend money, not because they are depository institutions, but because the System issues bonds on Wall Street, and investors buy those bonds with the promise of a return. That money flows through Farm Credit to rural America in the form of a land loan, an annual operating loan, a line of credit, or financing to expand an agribusiness. As borrowers repay their loans, Farm Credit provides a return to its bond holders.
Real People, Real Lives
However, when we talk about investing in rural America, we’re not just talking about lending money. As a reader of Landscapes, you’ve seen countless stories over the years about how local Farm Credit lenders have helped individual borrowers change their lives and impact their families and local communities.
- I think about the Mandujano brothers, for instance, who worked summers in the vegetable fields in Far West Texas and today own 8,000 acres in two counties, and sell directly to some of the largest grocery chains in the country.
- Then there’s Army veteran Orlando Cadena, who returned home to help on his father’s farm while working as a firefighter and police officer. With the support of his local Farm Credit lender, he is now a full-time farmer on 6,000 acres — an achievement he did not imagine possible when he came out of the military.
- How about Brenton Johnson, who turned his urban backyard garden into one of the largest organic (communitysupported agriculture) farms in the southern United States — with 60 employees, more than 1,000 member-customers and $3.5 million in annual sales?
- And then there are the farm families featured in this issue — the Newhouses, the Pilgrims, the Marshes and the Neuhauses, for example — families who have partnered with Farm Credit for two and three generations to achieve their goals.
When I think about how Farm Credit invests in rural America, this is what comes to my mind — individuals and family partnerships that have been impacted in meaningful and significant ways with the support of local Farm Credit lenders.
We Live and Work in Your Community
Local loan officers are more than just gatekeepers to capital; they, and the lending cooperatives they represent, invest in the hopes and dreams of their borrowers, partnering with them and supporting their success. They are also the folks who step up when their community needs support. This magazine isn’t large enough to tell all the stories of local Farm Credit employees who go above and beyond the call of duty to teach an after-hours class, raise money for a youth scholarship, support a local food bank, or assist with recovery efforts when disaster strikes. Farm Credit employees proudly invest time and talent in such worthy causes because they live and work in the communities they serve.
New Ways to Serve You
Earlier this year, Farm Credit partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to announce a new Rural Business Investment Company, which authorizes the System to fill a critical need for equity investment in rural America. This approach to providing capital is new to Farm Credit, but something we are excited to be a part of, because it’s just one more example of how Farm Credit is fulfilling its mission of service to agriculture and rural America.
Whether we are financing a young person just getting started in farming or a new agribusiness that will create jobs for rural residents, we are proud to know that Farm Credit is helping to strengthen our nation’s rural communities.
– Stan Ray