Since you are reading Landscapes, you may have benefited directly from Farm Credit financing. But loan programs aren’t the only way that Farm Credit assists the next generation of farmers, ranchers and rural residents. Following are some of the many ways that Farm Credit lending cooperatives encourage young people to take their place in the agriculture industry.
Support for Ag Education
West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) plays a key role in educating farmers, ranchers and other agriculturalists across West Texas. Thus, when the university announced plans to build a new Agricultural Sciences Complex, which opened this fall, Plains Land Bank was quick to contribute $150,000 toward construction costs and scholarships. The school named a classroom after the lending co-op, which counts numerous WTAMU alumni among its customers and staff.
Nearly 200 students, mostly from rural communities, are attending colleges and universities this year with the help of scholarships from Farm Credit Bank of Texas and its affiliated rural lending co-ops. In fact, each of Capital Farm Credit’s 64 credit offices awarded at least one scholarship in 2018. As Capital’s chief executive officer, Ben Novosad, explained, “By supporting youth, we’re investing in the vibrancy of rural communities and helping build the next generation of ag producers.”
School for Ranchers
The business aspects of ranching are not always taught in college, but they’re something every ranching professional needs to know, especially when the ranch involves thousands of acres of land and vast herds of livestock. That’s why Texas Farm Credit is a longtime supporter of the King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management. Since 2008, the Texas Farm Credit Certificate in Advanced Ranch Management has been awarded to 158 working professionals, studying everything from real estate law to mineral rights management.
Young Farmer/Rancher Advisory Boards
Many Farm Credit associations have young farmer and rancher advisory boards to gain the perspective of producers age 35 and under. The lenders then use that insight to establish loan programs and policies and offer mentoring to meet young farmers’ needs. The advisory groups also allow the young members to learn from one another. “I most enjoyed visiting with the other members — we shared stories about farming, our families, our struggles and our wins,” said Buster McLain, who recently retired from AgTexas Farm Credit’s Young Advisory Board. “We worked with the AgTexas Board [of Directors] from time to time. There are smart men on that board, and it was good to talk with them.”
Internships Offer Hands-On Training
Every summer, local Farm Credit lending co-ops employ college students who are interested in an ag lending career. The internships give the students hands-on experience in finance, appraisals, marketing and other disciplines, and expose them to careers in Farm Credit. As 2018 Southern AgCredit intern Hayes Shepherd noted, “This internship has given me a huge advantage going into my last year at MSU [Mississippi State University] and going forward into my career. Being a finance major, I feel learning about the Farm Credit System will allow me to see how the material I learn in my classes is directly applied to the business world.”
Vo-Ag Training for City Teenagers
Farm Credit lending co-ops are big supporters of local FFA and 4-H clubs, often donating stock show prizes and volunteering staff time at events such as debate contests. One lending co-op, Lone Star Ag Credit, has taken its support a step further by co-sponsoring the vocational agriculture program at Arlington Heights High School in Fort Worth, Texas. Lone Star’s support is helping the school to teach nearly 400 urban youth about food production and careers in agriculture, including veterinary medicine, wildlife management and the horticulture sector.