FCW Spotlight 2020 Special Issue

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Investing in Our Community

spotlight Investing in Our Community


From the Chair


Bolstering Our Industry


Supporting Our Community


Training Up Leaders


Inspiring Our Youth

For more than a century, Farm Credit West has supported our industry and the communities it serves. Today, as we help our customer-owners respond to a global pandemic, we are here for our farmers more than ever and remain committed to their success. Together, we will navigate these unchartered waters and come through stronger than before.” Mark Littlefield, President and CEO of Farm Credit West

SPOTLIGHT: Investing in Our Community is produced for the customers, employees and friends of Farm Credit West. This special edition provides a high-level overview of the organization's 2019 stewardship activities. On Cover:

Farm Credit West sponsors the Hancock Junior College Young Farmer and Rancher Club trip to Sacramento in 2019 to meet with top agriculture politicians such as California Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross.


SPOTLIGHT: Investing in Our Community

FROM THE CHAIR Sureena B. Thiara

Hope for a Bright Future There’s no doubt we’re all familiar with the phrase, “It takes a village…” As millions of Americans sheltered in place this spring to help slow the spread and reduce impacts of the novel coronavirus, our reliance on one another has perhaps never been more pronounced. From wildly shifting markets to limited in-person interactions, nearly every aspect of our lives has been altered. Through the challenges, one thing has become clear: Supporting one another in good times and bad is critical to our individual and collective success. Since its inception more than 100 years ago, Farm Credit West has served as far more than an agricultural lender; we’ve been a part of the fabric of our communities. Whether it’s supporting our partners in the industry or educating the next generation of farmers and ranchers, connecting with our customers and communities is part of our DNA. A belief in stewardship drives our mission to support agricultural and rural communities.

By breaking down barriers for socially disadvantaged or minority growers to expand their operations and reach new levels of success.

One of the more visible ways we support our customer-owners is by partnering

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By bolstering rural communities, providing much-needed support for areas most in need; and


While the Association continues to navigate the challenges of COVID-19 and respond to the immediate needs of its members, I’m pleased to provide you with, on behalf of the entire Board of Directors, this report of Farm Credit West’s robust and varied community-facing activities in 2019. I’m personally proud to be a part of an organization which recognizes the importance of investing in its community, and acts on its values. It offers hope for a bright future just when we need it most.


By engaging youth in agriculture, to cultivate and educate the next generation of agricultural leaders;


While our stewardship activities are based on financial contributions, they certainly don’t end there. Farm Credit West leadership and staff are deeply invested in our industry, going above and beyond to offer financial products and services to assist our customer’s businesses, and providing important legislative and advocacy support. In addition, they selflessly serve our communities through volunteer programs. In 2019, Farm Credit West staff volunteered a remarkable 5,463 hours in their local communities.

By giving back to our communities with our time and talents, we are cultivating the kind of world we want to live in: active, engaged, and supportive. It’s the kind of world we all need not only to survive, but to thrive. And it’s how we ensure a healthy future for Farm Credit West and each one of its 5,500 customer-owners.

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By supporting industry-wide initiatives with the intention of propping up the agriculture community;

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keen eye on young farmers and ranchers, and actively invest in our youth to develop a strong cohort of future leaders. As you’ll learn in the coming pages, Farm Credit West supports youth programs like the California FFA Judging Finals, providing both funding and volunteer judges for this important and formative program.


Our Stewardship Program aims to support our industry in four key ways:

with other Farm Credits in California to support larger projects. Together with other associations, in 2019, Farm Credit West donated $1,168,000 to activities, events, scholarship programs and fundraisers in local communities in our chartered territory. These dollars go directly toward education, research, local food programs, industry initiatives, rural communities, veterans, and youth outreach programs such as the FFA and 4-H. I’m proud to report that this is the highest donation amount to date from this alliance of California Farm Credit associations.


Why do we focus on stewardship? The answer is simple: We recognize that we are only as strong as our customerowners. Investing in our customers makes for a stronger organization and a healthier agricultural industry. That is why we direct significant resources each year to supporting and enriching the agricultural community on both the macro- and micro-levels.








Bolstering Our Industry The Center for Land-Based Learning completed construction on their new headquarters, officially opening doors in May 2020.


SPOTLIGHT: Investing in Our Community

As a lender focusing exclusively on agriculture, our success is entirely dependent on the success of our borrowers. Committed to helping our customers thrive, Farm Credit West takes an active role to support, encourage and provide educational resources for farmers.” Blake Harlan, Director, Farm Credit West

Nestled on 50 acres along the Cache Creek in Woodland, California, the Center for Land-Based Learning’s new headquarters and training farm are well-situated to implement its mission of educating and supporting future farmers in the Golden State. Completed this spring, the 5,400 square-foot farmhouse-style building has plenty of space for its 17-member staff to run the Center’s youth and new farmer training programs. Adjacent to the administrative offices, 30 acres of prime farmland are available for fledgling farmers to test crops and sharpen skills before they launch their businesses in the “real world.” At the Center’s former location nearby in Winters, just five acres were available for farming. As a nonprofit organization which serves the industry, all the Center’s programs and activities are largely dependent on funding from the agricultural community. Farm Credit West, in conjunction with other Farm Credits around California, committed $100,000 in 2019 to the Center’s capital campaign, to be distributed over five years. The support has been instrumental, according to Mary Kimball, director for the Center for LandBased Learning. “The funding from Farm Credit has been critical to us being able to expand our programs and serve more people,” Mary said. “When you have leaders like Farm Credit stepping up to give significant investment, it leads to us receiving more funding from other sources as well.” The Center for Land-Based Learning is one of the state’s premier organizations for training and supporting new farmers. But it’s just one of hundreds of important agricultural organizations that Farm Credit West supports. In 2019, FCW contributed

more than $473,000 to support the industry though local Farm Bureaus, commodity organizations, and a variety of other causes with the sole purpose of bolstering the agricultural community. Specifically, the Association contributed a portion of these dollars to industry research projects and a number of events, conferences and trade shows throughout California and Arizona that allow growers to gather together to learn. Significant funding was also sent directly to the California Farm Water Coalition, which is running a public education campaign about agricultural water supply shortage concerns and the significance of agriculture to the local economy. At the Center for Land-Based Learning, Farm Credit West also supports the California Farm Academy, its new farmer training program which includes a rigorous apprenticeship program for farm managers. The program, which meets the state’s regulated apprenticeship standards, matches willing farmers with beginning growers for 3,000 hours of on-the-job training. Farm Credit West customers Bruce and Rick Rominger of Rominger Brothers Farms, Woodland, took on a young apprentice from 2017-2019 who brought top-notch technology and organizational skills that benefited the business enormously. “Our apprentice was smart, hardworking, diligent, and a great asset for my farm,” Bruce said. “I think it’s great Farm Credit supports the Center and this program. I’m in my 60s; there needs to be another generation coming up behind us.” Those sentiments are the reason Farm Credit West invests a portion of its customer-owners’ hard-earned dollars back into the industry: The payoff to farmers is real and can be seen both now and in the future.

Farm Credit West supports industry through monetary contributions and volunteer hours to organizations such as the Center for Land-Based Learning, commodity groups, Farm Bureaus, and events such as the World Ag Expo.




Connecting Growers to Financial Resources Providing a reliable and consistent source of credit to growers of all sizes is a key objective for Farm Credit West. For this reason, our staff is proactive in providing the information needed to help small growers overcome financial burdens at industry events. Last year, Farm Credit West provided financial support and lenders spoke at several educational events targeting small farmers, including the Latino Conference, FarmLink, and the California Small Farmer Conference.

Kern County staff lead a panel at the Latino Conference, held completely in Spanish, last Fall.

Committed to Industry Throughout the years, Farm Credit West has been honored to partner with agriculture industry organizations in our local communities. We take an active role in local Farm Bureaus, industry organizations and commodity focused events throughout our territory. In 2019, Farm Credit West’s Hanford branch was honored by the Kings County June Dairy Month Committee as the inaugural Kings County Dairy Business of the Year. Farm Credit West Hanford Branch staff are honored 2019 as Kings County Dairy Business of the Year by the Kings County June Dairy Month Committee.

Working for our Customers through Industry Groups

Templeton staff serve patrons lunch at the Cattleman’s Day luncheon at the California Mid-State Fair in 2019.


SPOTLIGHT: Investing in Our Community

Farm Credit West supports industry groups not only through monetary contributions, but also through staff volunteer work. Through our participation in events benefiting industry groups, our staff stays connected on current trends in addition to giving back to those our Association serves. In 2019, we were present at dozens of industry events, ranging from the Arizona Cattlegrowers Association Convention to the Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau Farm Day.

Representing Agriculture in Washington D.C. Farm Credit West advocates for agriculture not just locally, but nationally through annual trips to meet with legislators in Washington D.C. During the 2019 Farm Credit Fly-In, Farm Credit West Board members and staff met with congressional members to highlight key areas of concern to the agriculture communities in our territory. To increase awareness of the variety of products grown in California and Arizona, Farm Credit West participated in a farmers’ market-style reception where staff visited with representatives and distributed customer products. Farm Credit West customer products are featured during a legislative reception at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

Honoring Exceptional Operations Each year, Farm Credit West joins with others in the agriculture industry to honor exceptional businesses. In 2019, we sponsored the California Agricultural Heritage Club and the Leopold Conservation Award. The award honors operations that have implemented unique and innovative conservation strategies in their businesses. Organizations that are inducted into the heritage club have been in operation for at least 100 years, serving as pioneers in the industry. To date, 16 Farm Credit West customers have been inducted into the Agricultural Heritage Club.

Senior Vice President Chuck Moore speaks at UC Davis' Meet the Buyers tour, providing information to small growers about different financing options.

Connecting Small Farmers with Buyers

The Miller family, longtime FCW customers and owners of the Thornhill Companies, were inducted to the California Agricultural Heritage Club in 2019.

In February 2019, Farm Credit West joined with other California Farm Credit associations and CoBank to sponsor the Sacramento “Meet the Buyers Tour” hosted by UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP), UC Cooperative Extension Capitol Corridor, and CSU, Chico. This program provided young, beginning, and small farmers the opportunity to meet and network with local grocers, distributors, restaurants and other wholesale produce buyers. Twenty-nine farmers from Solano, Yolo, Sacramento, Butte, and Tehama counties participated in the event.



Supporting Our Community


SPOTLIGHT: Investing in Our Community

Agriculture is an integral part of any thriving community, and Farm Credit West puts its money where its mouth is—right back into the community which supports it.” Robert Hansen, Director, Farm Credit West

Each year, through donations and paid staff volunteer days, Farm Credit West supports dozens of organizations that serve the most vulnerable in its communities. Last year was no exception. In 2019, FCW contributed nearly $30,000 to 19 food banks in its service regions across the state, including capital campaigns for food banks in central California and Yolo and Imperial counties for new buildings and other improvements and expansions. More recently, in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, Farm Credit West donated an additional $120,000 to 30 local food banks to bring relief to those suffering food shortages in the wake of the pandemic. The decision to contribute was simple, said Mark Littlefield, President and CEO of Farm Credit West. “Farm Credit cares about the most vulnerable in our communities, because in essence we are our communities,” Mark said. “Contributing during this crisis is our way of supporting the most vulnerable among us.” In addition to monetary contributions, FCW staff volunteer their time and talents to helping service organizations across California and Arizona succeed. The association is so committed to caring for its communities, it provides every staff member with three paid days each year to do volunteer work. Elizabeth Baker, Vice President, Credit in Woodland, is one of several employees there who has participated in gleaning and other volunteer activities for the Yolo County Food Bank, like cutting sweet potatoes for planting and packing boxes for Thanksgiving dinners.

“It’s fast-paced and fun to do as an office or alone—it makes you feel good to do the work,” Elizabeth said. “We support the food bank monetarily, so it’s an organization that Farm Credit West has wholeheartedly backed. It’s a good relationship.” But Farm Credit West doesn’t limit its support to agriculturerelated activities. Recognizing that a strong community makes strong customers, the Association contributes to community service organizations around the state, including cleanup programs in Yolo County, park rebuilds in the cities of Woodland and Winters, and blood drives—some of which are facilitated by FCW staff themselves. In 2018, Andrew Houtby, Vice President, Credit, in Tulare, was driving to work when he heard a radio advertisement for a blood drive in his community. Realizing that one of the biggest barriers to donating blood is usually time away from work and family, Andrew was inspired to work with FCW and Blood Mobile to organize a drive at the branch. The first blood drive, held in December that year, drew 26 employees participants. In 2019, the quarterly drives at the Tulare office collected more than 50 units of blood, enough to save up to 150 lives. Andrew’s approach has been modeled in the Paso Robles/ Templeton branch and headquarters office in Rocklin. “I used to donate, but it comes down to time, and having Blood Mobile come to our office makes it easier,” he said. “It’s definitely nice that Farm Credit encourages us to do community service kinds of things. It gives our staff a sense of accomplishment in giving back to the community.”

Farm Credit West supports food banks and blood drives through staff volunteerism and monetary contributions.




Working to Help our Communities Thrive At Farm Credit West, our staff are committed not only to the customers we serve, but also the communities where they work and live. In 2019, staff volunteered their time to engage in community improvement projects. In Yuba City, staff partnered with SayLove, a local nonprofit organization supporting the Yuba and Sutter counties, to sponsor a community-wide clean-up event. Following the event, Farm Credit West hosted lunch for the volunteers. In Winters, Woodland branch staff volunteered to rebuild a local community park.

Above, Farm Credit West Yuba City staff participate with SayLove to clean up illegal dump sites in Yuba and Sutter counties. Below, Farm Credit West staff volunteer to rebuild Winters' community park playground.

Making the Holidays Brighter for Disadvantaged Children Farm Credit West partnered with the U.S. Marine Corps' Toys for Tots by hosting drop-off locations at our branches last winter. For the several weeks leading up to the end-of-the-year holidays, staff collected new, unwrapped toys to be donated to children less fortunate. To ensure the success of this program, many employees freely donated their time and resources to coordinate the collection program.

Santa Maria branch staff joined all of Farm Credit West in donating hundreds of toys to the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots donation program last winter.

Providing Disaster Relief Support When disaster strikes, it can be devastating to the agricultural community. Farm Credit West believes it is critical to respond quickly and in a significant way to provide financial assistance to farmers and ranchers impacted by natural disasters. Historic flooding devastated the Midwest last year, causing destruction and hardship to farms, families and communities. Although the impacts of the floods were widespread, the flooding damage in Nebraska and Iowa was extensive. Farm Credit West, along with other associations, supported flood victims through contributions to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Disaster Relief Fund and Nebraska Cattleman Disaster Relief Fund. 10

SPOTLIGHT: Investing in Our Community

Staff Volunteer Paid Time Off As part of our commitment to communities, Farm Credit West provides up to three days of compensation for every staff member who elects to volunteer their time. Across our territory, employees are active in using this program to become more involved with humanitarian efforts. Last year in Tempe, Arizona, staff volunteered at the Fresh Start Women’s Foundation, an organization with the mission to help women achieve self-sufficiency and provide for their families. On the Coast, staff donated their time to work at Courtney’s House, a resource center for adults with developmental disabilities.

Some participants of Courtney’s House, a resource center for adults with developmental disabilities on California’s Central Coast.

Community Involvement Our involvement in annual events that draw the community together extends beyond just monetary contributions. In 2019, staff donated thousands of hours to assist in organizing various events. In Santa Maria, staff participated in a local fashion show, the benefits of which supported children with disabilities. In Woodland, staff volunteered their time to organize the Art Farm Gala through Yolo Arts, a local art show featuring images of local farms and ranches that serves as a fundraiser for the arts and land preservation. Dozens of other events occurred throughout our lending territory in part due to volunteer hours contributed by our staff.

Whether by gleaning fields for the local foodbank or donating turkeys for a Thanksgiving feast, Farm Credit West staff go above and beyond to serve their local communities.

Donating Time to Help Feed Others

Above, Santa Maria Staff volunteer as judges at the local pumpkin contest. Below, Woodland staff volunteer at the Art Farm Gala.

As a lending institution focusing exclusively on supporting the agriculture industry, we support efforts to reduce food shortages impacting families in our local communities. Last year, Farm Credit West Woodland staff visited local fields donated by farmers to the Yolo County Food Bank to harvest the remaining crop. In addition, on Thanksgiving, Farm Credit West matched turkey donations provided by the Santa Maria staff to the Santa Barbara County Food Bank.


Training Up Leaders

Our cooperative structure and specialization in agriculture mean the association only thrives if its members thrive. That’s why we’re investing in the education and financial strength of young, beginning and small farmers. Because a stronger farmer today makes a stronger association tomorrow.” Brian Talley, Director, Farm Credit West

In late February last year, as they’ve done each year for two decades, dozens of young farmers in California and Arizona left their operations and traveled to remote Avila Beach, San Luis Obispo County, where, for the next three days, Farm Credit West executives and industry experts would take them on a deep dive into their family businesses. The Young Farmer/Rancher Executive Institute, hosted and run by Farm Credit West since 2000, offers young producers an in-depth look at their operations, with particular focus on budgeting, finances, and credit preparedness. Designed to build up younger farmers’ knowledge and skills as they prepare to take on more responsibility, the conference brings in local attorneys and university professors who share expertise in estate and succession planning and best practices for labor management, marketing, and water resources, among other topics. As an added bonus, seasoned FCW board members share with those newer to the profession challenges and opportunities they’ve navigated over the course of their careers. “We teach them what any good bank, and what Farm Credit West in particular, is looking for in a good credit package: being well planned-out, including budgets and accurate financial information, so the best decision can be made to get the credit and financing they need,” said Tom Gulliver, FCW Sr. Vice President, Credit, and the program’s primary instructor. In 2019, 28 young farmers attended, and in total more than 270 young farmers, ranchers and agriculture professionals have completed the program. In post-conference survey responses,

participants report feeling motivated, empowered, and prepared to head back to their operations, particularly after sessions featuring questions and answers with an expert panel. “When we do this in a collective group, young farmers often hear opportunities or threats that others are experiencing that they can relate to,” Tom said. “That kind of first-hand knowledge can be hard to come by for farmers who are each busy running their own operation. It’s one of the main reasons we hold the event.” The Young Farmer/Rancher Executive Institute is Farm Credit West’s flagship event for educating young farmers, but the association’s dedication to bolstering young and would-be producers can be seen year-round, in myriad ways. FCW is active at the university level, directing funding to agricultural conferences, programs and foundations in line with its values at Fresno State, Cal Poly, The University of Arizona and Arizona State University. The association also takes great care to keep its members informed on industry trends and issues by preparing and distributing regular reports on water risk and market land value trends. Staff lend their expertise to the industry as well, speaking at conferences and local advisory committee meetings and, in one case, teaching a university course in agricultural finance. “At Farm Credit West, we are committed to ensuring that agricultural producers remain strong,” Tom said. “We actively work to preserve the future of agriculture, and providing young farmers and ranchers the tools they need to succeed is one of the most important ways we do that.”

Farm Credit West prioritizes continued learning for agricultural professionals. Our Association supports learning at all levels, partnering with universities and colleges throughout our chartered service area.




Promoting Leadership Development Among Agriculture Professionals

Tempe branch Senior Vice President Doug Norton accepts an award on behalf of FCW from outgoing Board Chair Cheryl Goar.

Farm Credit West is an active sponsor of two premier agriculture and rural community leadership development programs in California and Arizona. In Arizona, the Center for Rural Leadership (Project CENTRL) is the state’s premier leadership program with the mission to cultivate passionate and educated leaders who provide a voice for and serve rural communities. In California, Farm Credit West sponsors the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation, a two-year program committed to leadership training and transformational learning experiences in partnership with four California universities. As testament to the value of these programs, several Farm Credit West staff and customers are alumni of these courses.

Supporting AgOne at Fresno State In the south San Joaquin Valley, Farm Credit West enjoys a close relationship with the Fresno State Jordan School of Agriculture Science. Throughout the year, our association participates in a variety of programs coordinated by the Jordan School of Agriculture’s Ag One Foundation. Furthermore, we are active with the school’s veterans club, identifying and encouraging these young people to explore careers in agriculture.

Former Farm Credit West employee of 35 years David Hill donated a handmade birdhouse for auction at the Ag One Foundation Fundraiser in 2019. Farm Credit West matched the sale price of $6,000 to benefit students and programs of Fresno State’s College of Agriculture. Sadly, David passed away last July and will be missed and remembered fondly by all who knew him. Pictured above are David's family and friends

Partnering with Cal Poly, SLO

Farm Credit West staff speak with students interested in careers in agriculture at the Cal Poly Ag Showcase career fair.


SPOTLIGHT: Investing in Our Community

Farm Credit West has a long-standing relationship with agriculture colleges and universities throughout our territory. On California’s Central Coast, Farm Credit West staff regularly interact with students and professors at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Farm Credit West has contributed financially to support the university, specifically agribusiness courses, special projects, and athletic events, and FCW staff even teach courses at the university. Several Cal Poly professors also present annually at Farm Credit West’s Young Farmer/Rancher Executive Institute. Through these partnerships, Farm Credit West benefits from a wide range of knowledge exchange.

Drawing New Talent to the Agriculture Industry Part of our educational outreach program is to reach college graduates and inform them of opportunities for careers in agriculture, including employment with Farm Credit West. Each year, Farm Credit West staff participates in a variety of career fairs at multiple universities including California State Universities in Fresno, Chico, Bakersfield, San Luis Obispo and the University of Arizona campuses.

Woodland branch staff participate in a veterans career fair, educating attendees on potential job opportunities in the agriculture sector.

Connecting High School Students with Colleges While we focus on programs such as the FFA and California’s Ag in the Classroom to reach high schoolers, Farm Credit West also supported two unique programs focusing on college-bound students through partnerships with local universities last year. In Arizona, students from across the state, California’s Imperial Valley, and the Navajo Nation gained hands-on experience in food safety by participating in the SaferFoodCats summer program at the University of Arizona. In Tulare, California, FCW provided financial support to Bridge2College, a program dedicated to preparing students for college readiness through campus tours and counseling targeting under-served regions.

Farm Credit West sponsors the Hancock Junior College Young Farmer and Rancher Club trip to Sacramento to meet with top agriculture politicians such as Karen Ross, California Secretary of Food and Agriculture.

Supporting Young Farmers and Rancher Clubs Farm Credit West supports agriculture education at every level. In 2019, sixteen student members of Santa Maria’s Hancock Junior College Young Farmer and Rancher Club traveled to Sacramento to participate in Ag Day at the State Capitol. Farm Credit West sponsored the trip, which included meeting with representatives such as Karen Ross, Secretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture. This club brings together aspiring young farmers and ranchers to develop leadership skills and build connections for their future in agriculture. The University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ SaferFoodCats summer program introduced high school students to career pathways in food safety.


Inspiring Our Youth


SPOTLIGHT: Investing in Our Community

“With many producers set to retire in the next decade, we are seeing a generational transfer as younger people take over farm ownership. For our industry to remain strong, we must invest in our young people to ensure we have a new crop of energetic, outstanding leaders to carry our profession forward.” Colin Mellon, Director, Farm Credit West

Each year, through youth agriculture programs like 4-H and FFA, thousands of junior high and high school students purchase, raise and prepare an animal for auction at local fairs and farm shows. And each year, Farm Credit West supports these students by purchasing their animals for top dollar, directing proceeds to the students. In 2019, the Association spent $135,000 supporting students at junior livestock auctions around California and Arizona. Branch managers often spend time interviewing students prior to auctions to assess their financial savvy. Do they know all their figures? Can they assess the cost to purchase and raise their animal, and what will it take to break even? And perhaps most importantly, what do they plan to do with the money they make at auction? “Most of them say they’re saving for college,” said Jennifer Davila, Senior Credit Support specialist at Imperial who has been involved with her branch’s support of junior livestock auctions since 2004. “I think it’s a great way to get them invested in their own education—they learn a lot of responsibility through the process. It’s not just a pet dog; they have to keep track of expenses, know how much feed costs, and make sure the animal is in optimal health by the time it gets to the farm show.”

Beyond bidding on students’ animals, volunteers at several FCW branches, including Imperial and Woodland, actually facilitate purchases made at their local auctions: invoicing buyers, collecting payment from processors and distributing the difference to the students. For the last few years, Davila has also managed “barn sales” for animals which didn’t meet the auction criteria, fronting purchase money and later collecting from buyers on behalf of the students. Last year, the Imperial branch managed 25 individual barn sales, mostly rabbits, calves and pigs, and fronted nearly $9,000 in sales. These funds go directly into the hands of students, who gain important skills through their animal raising projects. Responsibility, leadership, public speaking, and long-term commitment are all assessed during the process, which can take months and often occurs repeatedly. These projects also tend to pique young people’s interest in agriculture and potentially propel them toward careers in the industry. “FFA and 4-H animal-raising projects are critical programs in an era when agriculture is withstanding mounting pressures and global changes,” said Farm Credit West President and CEO Mark Littlefield. “We are proud to support youth through these programs, and take an active role in cultivating young people who will take over the reins of our industry in the future.”

Farm Credit West contributed more than $135,000 to junior livestock auctions in 2019 and facilitated multiple events through staff volunteer hours.




Engaging Children in Tulare and Santa Barbara Counties with Agriculture

Tulare staff volunteer at AgVentures! Day, engaging more than 1,700 students with agriculture in a single day.

Careers in agriculture begin with fostering interest at a young age. For this reason, Farm Credit West is active with programs in our community that target young children and introduce them to agriculture. Annually, our Tulare County branch staff volunteers with AgVentures! Learning Center & Ag Museum at the International Agri-Center. This program provides opportunity for over 1,700 students in the Tulare and Visalia School systems to engage in interactive learning experiences about agriculture. Staff on California’s Central Coast volunteer annually at Farm Supply’s Quiz Jam at the Santa Barbara County Fair. This exciting event engages students with several agriculture-related challenges.

Proud sponsors of the FFA in Arizona and California No agriculture education is complete without the formal instruction offered through programs such as the FFA and 4-H. Farm Credit West is an active supporter of both these programs, providing funding and volunteer hours at the local and state levels. In Santa Maria, staff take an active role serving as project judges. In Arizona, Farm Credit West is a proud sponsor of the Arizona State FFA Foundation, and in 2019, staff served on the Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Farm Credit West Safford and Tempe staff attend the Arizona State FFA Foundation Blue and Gold Gala. Farm Credit West is a long-time supporter of the program, with one of our staff members serving on the Foundation’s board of directors last year.

Supporting 4-H Programs In Yolo County, 4-H students welcomed 2,500 public, private, and home-schooled students to “Farm Connection Day” at the county fair grounds as they do each year. During this event, visitors toured several educational displays, presentations and hands-on activities featuring agriculture, livestock and arts and crafts. 4-H students provided demonstrations and showcased their projects. Farm Credit West provided monetary support and staff volunteers at this event. Students gather around Elenor Harlan, Credit Analyst, Rocklin, to participate in an agriculture trivia game at Farm Connection Day in Yolo County.


SPOTLIGHT: Investing in Our Community

Bringing Students to the Farm In Ventura County, Farm Credit West is an active supporter in SeeAg, a student agricultural education program reaching more than 1,000 students per month. This organization provides a unique opportunity to connect children who may never have been exposed to agriculture previously with life on a farm. This program recently expanded to Santa Barbara County, connecting students with local farmers. Each month, SeeAg provides more than 1,000 students the opportunity to learn about life on a farm in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Supporting Agricultural Education of Young Children Even the youngest of children benefit from early exposure to agriculture. On California’s Central Coast, Farm Credit West supports the YMCA garden, providing preschoolers hands-on learning opportunities for how vegetables are grown. In Paso Robles, Farm Credit West sponsors the West Coast Junior Rodeo where young children show off their horseback riding skills.

Farm Credit West is a proud sponsor of the new greenhouse at Woodland High School in Northern California.

Investing in High School Agriculture Education

Young children are exposed to the basics of agriculture at the YMCA Preschool Garden in Santa Maria.

As those who participated in a high school agriculture course can attest, these programs are transformative for young people. Farm Credit West understands that, and regularly provides monetary contributions to high school facilities that allow for improved student engagement. In northern California, Farm Credit West donated funds for the construction of a new greenhouse at Woodland High School. In the Central Valley, our Association annually donates to the Hanford Foundation for Vocational Agriculture (VoAg), having sponsored the construction of the swine barn at the Hanford School Farm. Farm Credit West also donates annually to Ag in the Classroom, a statewide program bringing agriculture coursework into schools throughout California. 2020 SPECIAL ISSUE 19

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Standing by You If your operation is experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and corresponding shutdowns, we are here to help. Contact your loan officer to learn more.