Arkansas Agriculture - Summer 2013
Reforming our broken immigration system; Maintaining the hidden workforce essential to food production; Teacher leads Ag in the Classrom efforts; Singing the Blueway blues; Norfork FFA builds chicken tractors.
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VOLUME 10 ISSUE 3 F E A T U R E S Ag immigration reform by Gregg Patterson C O L U M N S Farm Bureau Perspective by Randy Veach Faces of Agriculture — Lori Rooney by Ken Moore Policy Update by Michelle Kitchens Spotlight on Youth — Norfork FFA builds chicken tractors by Ken Moore Rural Reﬂections Photo On the cover — Immigration reform is a major national issue Congress is debating now. American agriculture — one of this country’s and the world’s greatest strengths — depends on immigrant labor for its sustainable success. Whether you realize it or not, the affordable food on your table is directly tied to immigrant labor. It’s time for efﬁcient ag immigration reform to keep American farming and ranching strong. Photo credit: Keith Sutton 4 Executive Editor: Steve Eddington Editor: Gregg Patterson Contributing Writers: Ken Moore, Keith Sutton, Chris Wilson Research Assistant: Brenda Gregory 3 18 22 26 28 Arkansas Agriculture is an official publication of Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation. Arkansas Agriculture is distributed to almost 42,000 farming and ranching households in Arkansas. SUBSCRIPTIONS: Included in membership dues. Arkansas Farm Bureau Officers: President Randy Veach Manila Vice President Rich Hillman Carlisle Secretary/Treasurer Tom Jones Pottsville Executive Vice President Ewell Welch Little Rock Directors: Richard Armstrong, Ozark Troy Buck, Alpine Jon Carroll, Moro Joe Christian, Jonesboro Terry Dabbs, Stuttgart Mike Freeze, England Bruce Jackson, Lockesburg Tom Jones, Pottsville Johnny Loftin, El Dorado Gene Pharr, Lincoln Rusty Smith, Des Arc Allen Stewart, Mena Mike Sullivan, Burdette Leo Sutterfield, Mountain View Ex Officio Sherry Felts, Joiner Brent Lassiter, Newport Janice Marsh, McCrory Brian Walker, Horatio Arkansas Agriculture is published quarterly by the Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation, 10720 Kanis Road, Little Rock, AR 72211. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Arkansas Agriculture, P.O. Box 31, Little Rock, AR 72203. Issue #30. Farm Bureau Perspective by Randy Veach, President Arkansas Farm Bureau Reforming our broken immigration system T There are so many confusing, frustrating and sometimes emotional issues surrounding our nation’s immigration system. We’re a nation of immigrants, of course, but the challenges of today’s world make our present system almost obsolete. Just about everyone agrees the system is broken. Immigration reform is critical for agriculture, as you most certainly know. It’s imperative the guest-worker program be reformed. The challenge of getting legal workers on our farms today has become so daunting it’s strangling many of our farms and ranches. This is a sticky wicket, of course. Where to start? Deal with the illegals here now? Secure the border? Define a path to legal citizenship? Pass laws making it easier to gain access to workers legally? The answer is a comprehensive bill addressing all these issues. The U.S. Senate passed S. 744, “The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013,” back in June. Farmers and ranchers welcomed it. Passage of the Senate bill was the first step toward securing a comprehensive agricultural labor plan that works for all sectors of agriculture and across all regions of our nation. The Senate-passed bill would help ensure an adequate supply of farm labor. It also could provide increased surveillance of high-risk areas along our borders. We need the House of Representatives to bring its proposal to the table. If, and when, the House passes something, the real debate can begin as they try to reach common ground on those two pieces of legislation. Let me be clear. Our first priority should be to enforce the laws we have on the Publisher assumes no responsibility for any errors or omissions. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited. books now. If we’re able to pass new immigration laws, but don’t enforce them any The Arkansas Farm Bureau Federation reserves the right to accept or reject all advertising requests. so. It must be an enforcement priority and a critical part of any immigration reform. Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org better than the ones we now have, we’ll have done nothing. Border security will occupy much of the discussion on this issue, and rightfully But know there is far more to border security than fencing. We must continue to drive home the point that one of the best ways to improve border security is to create a legal, workable way for farm workers to enter our country. With less time and resources wasted locking up lettuce harvesters, the focus can shift to where it properly belongs – keeping those with criminal intentions out of our country. Although the specific labor needs of farmers in Arkansas differ from those in Texas, Florida or Michigan, all of agriculture benefits from ag immigration reform. pcipublishing.com Created by Publishing Concepts, Inc. David Brown, President • email@example.com For Advertising info contact Tom Kennedy • 1-800-561-4686 firstname.lastname@example.org Edition 30 Helping members of Congress and the public understand farmers and ranchers depend on the workers who show up every day to tend our crops and raise livestock has been challenging at times. However, we press on because we know responsible immigration reform is imperative for the continued success of American agriculture. Œ„´* Arkansas Agriculture 3 Ag immigration reform Maintaining the hidden workforce essential to food production I by Gregg Patterson Immigration reform is one of Congress’ hot-button issues. The use of seasonal immigrant workers is essential to many business sectors of the American economy, maybe more so to agriculture than any other. Congress is presently debating what an immigration reform bill will consist of. With that in mind, Arkansas Agriculture talked with Kim Matthews and Jon Carroll. Kim and husband Terris of Wynne depend on immigrant labor to farm sweet potatoes, as does Arkansas Farm Bureau Board member Jon Carroll, a row-crop farmer from Moro. Explain your operation and how you use migrant workers? Matthews: “We grow around 1,400 acres of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are a very labor intensive crop during planting and harvesting. We employ 35 to 40 people year-round. However, during planting season, we need an additional 40, and during harvest an additional 110 people. That consists of about six weeks for planting and eight weeks for harvest. You can’t find that much of an additional labor force to perform such hard manual labor for that short a period of time. That is the reason we turned to the H2A labor program (immigrant workers) as a supplement during those 14 to 16 weeks during the year. We wouldn’t be able to plant and harvest our crops without them. The local workforce just won’t do it.” Carroll: “I own and farm an east Arkansas row-crop operation. We use our migrant workers in all aspects, including field prep, planting, watering, harvesting, mechanic work and any other general maintenance of the farm.” Keith Sutton Strong bond The bond between American farmers and immigrant farm workers is strong. Many farmers and ranchers depend on immigrant labor to be successful. Workers depend on the farm jobs to support their families and to improve their standing in life. Carlos Tinajero (left) works on the farm of Arkansas Farm Bureau state board member Jon Carroll (right). 4 Arkansas Agriculture Arkansas Agriculture 5 One potato, two potato, three potato, four ... Kim Matthews (inset) of Matthews Ridgeview Farms in Wynne says it’s important for people to “stop assuming and educate themselves” when it comes to immigration reform. Here, workers sort sweet potatoes on the Matthews’ farm. James Groves photos Kim Matthews 6 Arkansas Agriculture What would your operation workers $2.50 more an hour than the next Matthews: “Stop assuming and have to do without migrant farmer who is using illegals, it makes it actually educate themselves. Truthfully, workers? very hard to compete with him when we’re most people don’t want to move past it or Matthews: “We would have three selling our products. He has a huge cost know the truth, because they’ll lose their options without migrant workers: 1. Shut advantage over us. This is happening all excuse for not working. It’s easy to throw our operation down; 2. Cut back to around over the U.S. in every industry out there.” stones when you’re sitting on your couch.” 200 acres of sweet potatoes and have a vast Carroll: “I think we need to educate amount of unhappy customers whom we’ve Carroll: “The current H2A paperwork worked so hard to build relationships with; process is expensive and time consuming. the public on the importance of immigrant Or 3, take the huge risk of using illegal The uncertainty of getting approved and workers in the agriculture industry and immigrants, which we will not do! We getting workers when I have to have them is support proper channels of legalization for made the decision several years ago that we stressful.” immigrants.” would do things the right way and build our business with honesty and integrity, so #3 is just not an option for us.” Why don’t you use American workers? Matthews: “We do use American Carroll: “My operation probably workers. We’ll always hire an American How should organizations like Farm Bureau implement our position on immigration? Matthews: “I’m not sure. But the more wouldn’t exist without immigrant workers. worker if they want to work. We hire you educate yourselves on all the rules and Or at least the amount of acres I farm American workers almost every day, regulations of the program we’re currently would have to decrease drastically. because the majority of them quit the first using, the more you’ll be able to work to Dependable local labor is hard to find.” week because the work is too hard, or they help improve it. You should talk with as only want to work certain days or simply many H2A program users across the U.S. that we actually expect them to work and as you can, so you can understand every not just show up. pro and con in the program.” Why does agriculture need a workable guest worker program? Matthews: “Because contrary to what Our values and work ethic in this Carroll: “We must focus on some you hear from the media and public forums, country are the worst thing I’ve ever the immigrant workers aren’t taking seen. Everyone feels they’re entitled and commonsense initiatives that begin to Americans’ jobs. They’re simply performing don’t want to work for anything. I’ve had address the practical challenges of our jobs that American workers don’t want to applicants actually tell me they didn’t immigration system. The key is to begin do and actually refuse to do. We experience want the job, because it would mess up by working on the solutions on which we this on a daily basis with local applicants.” their unemployment (benefits)! As long can all agree, rather than insisting on a as the government continues to patronize comprehensive approach that divides us.” Carroll: “Agriculture needs a workable this current and upcoming work force with Is a compromise approach to guest worker program to be able to feed free everything, and not even give them the world. The work is seasonal, and an incentive to get a job, I truly believe the immigration issue the only local people who would be interested the U.S. will be starving to death within successful path? and qualified are looking for year-round the next 10 years. It’s hard to explain employment.” to people that the grocery stores don’t on exactly what we’re compromising make their food. Until this reality hits on. I know you can’t compromise on the home with the majority of the population, fact that people can’t live without food, nothing will change.” and that without farmers there will be What do you see as the worker difficulties with the current H2A program? Matthews: “It’s very costly with all the Matthews: “I guess that would depend no food. The White House garden can’t Carroll: “I don’t use American supply enough food for the White House. fees, fines, regulations and extremely high workers at this time, because no You need to keep farmers farming or this wage rate. Each year, more fees are imposed, qualified, dependable or willing workers country will collapse, no ifs, ands, or buts the process gets harder, and the wage rate is are available for farm labor, which is about it! My concern is an enforcement raised. Our government has made it difficult seasonal.” only approach would intensify our difficulties. That wouldn’t be helpful. and costly for agriculture to survive in this current climate — at least if you’re working How does our society move through the system and doing everything past the polarizing view of legally. If I’m working H2A and paying my immigration? We must have a workable guest worker program.” Arkansas Agriculture 7 8 Arkansas Agriculture Keith Sutton Feed the need Most farming and livestock operations require a steady influx of immigrant labor to begin the process of getting food to your grocery store. If you eat and enjoy the benefits of the worldâ€™s most affordable food supply, then agriculture immigration reform is important to you whether you realize it or not. Carroll: “A compromise approach may Do you think the present laws Carroll: “E-Verify has some good not be the only successful path. However, a regarding immigration are working? aspects, but it makes the farmer the police compromise would be better than not doing How would you change them? of immigrants who are illegal. That should anything at all. Enforcement only isn’t the Matthews: “The laws are working. The be the government’s job.” government has just made it too costly for a answer.” What are the three top issues surrounding immigration reform? lot of the farmers to use it. That’s why some Without a workable guest farmers are taking the risk of using the illegal worker program, what will the workers.” results be for agriculture? Matthews: “The general population Matthews: “Wages, prevailing vs. adverse. Will the reform actually keep Carroll: “There needs to be some easier will starve to death! The farmers will workers in the agricultural sector? And for process that a farmer can use to assure workers grow food for their families and put the me, my concern is will these workers become are available when needed. One suggestion rest of their acres in non-labor intensive Americanized and become just as non-willing would be a three-to-five year approval for proven crops that will generate income but not to work as the current American work force and law-abiding workers.” necessarily be for human consumption.” we have now?” What is your opinion on E-Verify? Carroll: • “Securing our borders and stopping the flow of illegal traffic, worker program in agriculture, it’ll be very immigration police? If E-Verify becomes difficult to sustain the production of food mandatory, then I personally think it should be we all enjoy and take for granted.” • Getting in place and insisting on enforced to the fullest in every state, so at least proper channels for legalization, we’d all be on a level playing field on our input • A farmer friendly H2A program.” Carroll: “Without a workable guest Matthews: “Why should I be the Œ„´* costs.” Keith Sutton Tough work Immigrant farm workers are not taking jobs away that would otherwise go to American workers. Even with the greatest economic recession since The Great Depression of the 1930s, Americans predominantly shy away from the physical work, long hours and seasonal nature of farm work. Arkansas Agriculture Arkansas Agriculture 99 ®® Members Save up to… $500 EXCLUSIVE FOR FARM SAVINGS BUREAU MEMBERS on the purchase or lease of most new GM vehicles. Certain restrictions apply. Visit www.fbverify.com/gm. 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Share Your Thoughts • www.facebook.com/ArkansasFarmBureau • www.youtube.com/arkansasfarmbureau • twitter.com/ARFB • www.arfb.com (now ‘Share This’ enabled) Now OMRI Listed for Organic Use Enter the Young Farmers & Ranchers Excellence in Ag Contest, ® and you could end up behind the wheel of a • The YF&R Excellence in Agriculture Contest is designed for the individual or couple who have agriculture interests and are active in Farm Bureau, but derive the majority of their income away from the farm. For additional details, call 501-228-1247. The deadline for entry is Nov. 8. The winner receives a John Deere HPX Gator and a John Deere riding lawn mower. Applications are at www.arfb.com/get-involved/young_fr/excellence . • John Deere has grown to become the world’s leading agriculture equipment manufacturer and is posed for a strong future by remaining true to their four core values of quality, commitment, innovation and integrity. Deere is committed to those linked to the land by not only providing quality agriculture equipment and services, but by also being a world leader in the forestry, construction, lawn and turf care, landscaping and irrigation industries. new Gator. • The Farm Credit mission is to provide reliable credit and related services to agricultural producers and rural home owners. For almost a century, Farm Credit has been rock solid and controlled by the members it serves. Statewide, AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, Farm Credit Midsouth and Farm Credit of Western Arkansas serve members with competitively priced financing, agricultural expertise in lending and a patronage program. SponS eere de ored by: alers o f Ark.; John d eere, In Fb Mutu c.; al Insu F a rm rance C o. of Ark Credit; & ansas, Inc. John d 16 Arkansas Agriculture Co nt est 20 13 Re fle ct ion s Ph ot o ww Co w. ar mp let /ge t-i fb. e co co m n te s nv t r olv ul ed es /co a nte t: sts $1 ,00 0 in pr ize s Ru ra l F arm Bureau members have the opportunity to spotlight their creativity, their perception and their flair for the dramatic — or the comical or even the tragic — in our fifth Rural Reflections Photo Contest. This competition offers amateur photographers the chance to explore the many activities, seasons, triumphs, disappointments and faces of agriculture, our state’s key industry. The photos that win this competition will capture the image and spirit of agriculture, and Farm Bureau, in Arkansas. The contest includes two divisions, High School (ages 14–18) and Adult (19 and older). The winner of each receives $250. In addition, one entry will receive a Grand Prize of $500. The winners and honorable mentions may have their works published, with credit, in Front Porch and Arkansas Agriculture magazines, on Farm Bureau’s website, arfb.com, and in other publications. 17 Faces of Agriculture by Ken Moore Lori Rooney Teacher leads Ag in the Classrom efforts L Lori Rooney, a family and consumer- science teacher at South Side Bee Branch High School in Van Buren County, is Arkansas Farm Bureau’s 2013 Ag in the Classroom Outstanding Teacher. Rooney was recognized during a special ceremony at the school. Farm Bureau established the award in 2006 to recognize teachers who have exemplary programs that integrate agricultural concepts into their curricula. Rooney graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree in Family and Consumer Science and is working on a graduate degree in library Keith Sutton media technology. She joined the high school faculty at South Side Bee Branch in 2011. As part of her curriculum, Rooney teaches agricultural concepts in her classes on food and nutrition, career orientation, human relations, nutrition and wellness, and child development. Top teach Lori Rooney, a teacher at South Side Bee Branch High School, is Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom Outstanding Teacher of the Year. “It is extremely important to educate young people, especially high school students, about produce, meats, dairy and these is Van Buren County Farm Bureau’s different fibers and where they come different aspects of agriculture,” Rooney Holiday Menu contest. As part of the from, including natural fibers such as said, “because it plays such a big role in contest, the students had to shop for cotton and wool. our lives every day. High school students healthy, nutritious foods incorporated are at the prime age to make decisions into a holiday meal on a budget. about what foods to eat, their nutrition Because most of Rooney’s lessons Principal Tim Smith says Rooney has all the qualities of a “great educator.” Amy Hutto, library media specialist, says and the habits they will create as they incorporate experiential learning, they’re Rooney has, “spent much time and energy become adults.” covered in the Common Core Curriculum breathing new life into the school’s Family Standards. In the clothing segment and Consumer Science program. A major a number of activities that teach them of Family and Consumer Science, the component of that has been her passion about agricultural economics. 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By from agriculture, but more than half of and federal agencies to apply to the U.S. definition a National Blueway is a “. . . its “strategic objectives” were agriculture- Department of the Interior (DOI) to national and regionally significant river related. The document also referenced designate the White River Watershed as and their watersheds that are highly valued undocumented “challenges” to this a National Blueway. That designation recreational, social, economic, cultural, and designation such as: was officially announced by the DOI ecological assets for the communities that last January. However, the designation depend on them.” left many landowners in the watershed The goal of the National Blueway • “Agriculture-related genetic pollution;” • “Agricultural practices that negatively with questions and concerns. Lack of System was a holistic approach for the landowner support and letters from benefit of the watershed, its many uses Arkansas’ U.S. Senators requesting the DOI and to increase cooperation among rescind the designation were too much stakeholders and agencies throughout the agricultural users that adversely affects to overcome. Additionally, requests from watershed. Another goal was increasing water levels” the original nominators to rescind the public awareness that what happens Blueway designation resulted in it being upstream impacts those downstream and officially withdrawn by the DOI on July vice versa. The program’s design was to be aimed to make several changes to 3. The federal agency then decided to based on voluntary participation with no agricultural-related activities. While the mothball the program, nationwide, on impeding of water or property rights. nomination didn’t vehemently attack July 15. However, environmental regulation affect water quality;” • “Over consumption of water by … The goals outlined by this nomination agriculture, almost every mention of pressures continue to mount on farmers. farming spoke of it as an obstacle to National Blueway designation of the White Giving special recognition to waterways overcome in the watershed. The truth is River didn’t inspire confidence, it’s a provides an opportunity for those farmers and ranchers partner regularly with worthwhile topic to explore. Landowners wishing to restrict all agriculture practices. wildlife and conservation groups for to didn’t embrace the idea for many reasons: Landowners worry that voluntary programs better the environment. That relationship, lack of initial input, apprehension of will become mandatory, and they’ll have of course, shouldn’t automatically be federal designations or other objections. little input. considered adversarial. 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On Taste Arkansas, a food blog by Arkansas Farm Bureau, this simple truth is connecting those interested in food production with the farmers and ranchers who provide us with an abundance of Arkansas agricultural products. One thing will always be true about farming: Conditions change. From weather, to soil, to technology, you have a lot to keep up with. Thankfully, you’ve got real insurance that keeps up with you. If there’s anything you need to know, just call us. You’ll always have questions. Your Farm Bureau agent always has answers. Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Arkansas, Inc. Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company, Jackson MS ArkAnsAs-grown insurAnce for ArkAnsAs growers Arkansas Agriculture 25 Spotlight OnYouth Norfork FFA builds chicken tractors Chicken train Norfork High School FFA chapter members with one of the 15 portable chicken tractor/houses they built to donate to local families. (Left to right) Jami Barnett, Marissa Greer, Jordan Teegarden, Railyn Stokes, Jacob McGowan, Tyler Reaves. by Ken Moore M Members of the Norfork High School us eggs and fresh meat are things they don’t for the families to borrow to fertilize the of giving needy families some chickens and eggs in the event they want to raise their educating them about how to feed and own chicks. FFA chapter in Baxter County wanted to care for them, so they would have a steady do something different and sustainable for supply of eggs,” Martin said. their project as part of the National FFA’s The chapter also will provide a rooster get a lot of. So, we came up with the idea Rather than build traditional, Martin explained their program this way. “Rather than just giving the family fish permanent chicken coops to house the (so to speak), we will be teaching them How about a “chicken tractor”? hens, the students came up with the to fish, or in this case, raise laying hens, After researching different concepts on concept of constructing the “tractors.” by writing and delivering educational Food for All program. the web, the 40 students in Leanna Martin’s chapter decided on building the portable Chapter president Tyler Reaves said there are several reasons for this. pamphlets each month on such topics as good nutrition, how to deal with potential “These 5.5-foot x 8-foot A-frame units diseases, predator control, etc.,” he said. families the opportunity to raise egg-laying are designed to be portable and allow the “There are a lot of families here that hens. chickens to free range, cutting down on the live on a restricted food budget and would cost of feed requirements,” Reaves said. benefit from being able to produce their chicken houses as a means of giving area “The National FFA introduced the program last year, and our chapter decided “We will supply each family that own eggs, so we expect to receive a number to participate, but we wanted to do qualifies for a unit with two hens to get of applications for the tractors,” chapter something unique,” said Martin, vo-ag started. Each tractor includes a small member Railyn Stokes said. instructor and FFA advisor for the school. roosting and nesting area for the chickens Other FFA students involved with the to sleep and lay their eggs in. They are on project include Jami Barnett, Marissa Greer, obtained a $2,500 grant from the national wheels and designed so two people can Jacob McGowan and Jordan Teegarden. organization which supplied funds for move the units around their yard to new construction of 15 units. ground.” The Norfork chapter applied for and “We brainstormed and talked to the operators of the local food bank. They told 26 Arkansas Agriculture The students came up with a design that costs only $150 per unit to build. “I’m very proud of how they came up with this design and tackled the project with such enthusiasm,” Martin said.” Œ„´* Keith Sutton Part of national ‘Food for All’ program Mollie Dykes Arkansas Agriculture 27 RuralReflections Shadow cowboy Farm Bureau member Lisa Driggers of Pearcy shot this striking silhouette. 28 Arkansas Agriculture Committed. Strong. reliAble. truSted. member-owned. Farm Creditâ€™s more than 10,000 customer-owners across Arkansas include rural home owners, row crop farmers, livestock operations, local food farmers, and full and part-time farmers. With $2.8 billion in assets, Arkansas Farm Credit associations serve agriculture, our communities and the rural lifestyle. Members enjoy unique benefits like patronage refunds totaling more than $122 million since 1997. Are you Farm Credit? 800-444-3276 farmcredit.com Arkansas Agriculture 29 PRESORTED STANDARD U.S. POSTAGE PAID LITTLE ROCK, AR PERMIT NO. 1884 Cut Your rate With a Farm Bureau Bank equipment Loan! Purchase or refinance the agricultural or commercial equipment you need today to grow your business for the future. Plus take advantage of your membership with dedicated service, special rates, flexible terms and payment plans up to 7 full years. We make financing easy! Contact your local Arkansas Farm Bureau agent or visit farmbureaubank.com Existing Farm Bureau Bank equipment loans are excluded from this offer. *Rate disclosed as Annual Percentage Rate (APR) and based on exceptional credit. Some restrictions may apply based upon the make and model of the equipment offered as collateral. Up to 90% financing for new and 85% for used equipment loans subject to credit approval. Rate are accurate as of 6/1/2013. Rates and financing are limited to equipment model years 2003 or newer and are subject to change without notice. A down payment may be required for new or used equipment purchases. Financial information required for loans over $50,000. Commercial vehicles and trailers may be subject to an additional documentation fee. Farm Bureau Bank does not provide equity or cash out financing on commercial vehicles and equipment. Banking services provided by Farm Bureau Bank, FSB. Farm Bureau, FB, and the EQUAL HOUSING LENDER FB National Logo are registered service marks owned by, and used by Farm Bureau Bank FSB under license from, the American Farm Bureau Federation.