FCW Spotlight Fall 2022

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spotlight FALL 2022


Kimball Family Shows Resilience in Face of Devastating Fire PAG E 6


Getting Comfortable with the Uncomfortable PAG E 14 GUEST ARTICLE

Finding the Best People for Your Team in Today’s Climate PAG E 16

Spotlight FALL 2022

3 President’s Message 4

Financial Highlights


Board of Directors Update


Feature Story: RISE


rom the Farmer’s Kitchen: F Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Cinnamon Frosting


Community Center


Dr. Kohl’s Corner: Getting Comfortable with the Uncomfortable


uest Article: Finding the Best People G for Your Team in Today’s Climate

Mission Statement

Farm Credit West will ensure the customer comes first by providing superior service at competitive rates in a timely, professional and ethical manner, and by delivering a meaningful return on equity through our patronage program.

Who We Are

One of the West’s leading agricultural lenders, Farm Credit West and its wholly owned subsidiaries are cooperatively owned lending institutions providing financial services to farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses. Our offices are located in Arizona and California’s Central Coast, Imperial Valley, South San Joaquin Valley and Sacramento Valley.

Board of Directors Chair of the Board Douglas C. Filipponi. . . . . . . . . . . . Creston, CA Vice Chair of the Board Mark A. Cook. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Willcox, AZ Joey Airoso . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pixley, CA


2022 Holiday Calendar

Robert Amarel, Jr. . . . . . . . . . . . . Yuba City, CA


Contributor Article: Gaining the Local Perspective

Catherine Fanucchi . . . . . . . . . Bakersfield, CA

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Candid Conversations: Maximizing the Relationship with Your Lender Tech Watch: Budgeting for Cybersecurity

23 Territory and Office Locations

Teresa Castanias. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ivins, UT Craig C. Gnos. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Davis, CA Robert N. Hansen. . . . . . . . . . . . . Hanford, CA Blake Harlan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Woodland, CA Tom Ikeda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Arroyo Grande, CA Colin Mellon. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Yuma, AZ Mark Osterkamp. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Brawley, CA Barry Powell. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sacramento, CA Brian Talley. . . . . . . . . . . . . Arroyo Grande, CA Sureena S. Bains Thiara . . . . . . Yuba City, CA

Spotlight is produced for the customers, employees and friends of Farm Credit West. Comments and story ideas can be submitted by email to the Marketing Department at marketing@farmcreditwest.com.



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President’s Message MARK LITTLEFIELD, CEO

Building Bench Strength

Farm Credit West Is Poised to Take on the Future Socrates is credited with having once said, “The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” As evidenced by the last several years, adapting to change has become a way of life. Market instability, supply chain delays, geopolitical crises, rising interest rates and inflation have defined 2022. Against this challenging backdrop, I have been impressed time after time at the resiliency and ingenuity our customer owners have shown in overcoming the adversity facing them in many aspects of their operations. The Kimball family operation, featured in this issue of Spotlight, is a great example of the strength I often see in our customers. At Farm Credit West, our customers’ stories both inspire and motivate us as we continue our efforts to build sustainability within our organization. For many years, your Board of Directors has guided the management team in strengthening our cooperative so we are ready and able to serve the agriculture industry now and in the future. To achieve this objective, your Board and management teams have focused on four key pillars of our business: 1) our purpose (fulfilling the Farm Credit mission), 2) our customers (delivering products and services in an extraordinary way), 3) our financial capacity (maintaining

fiscal strength to achieve our value promise), and 4) our people (attracting developing and retaining the highest quality staff and board members). As we look to the future, and the proposed merger with Northwest FCS, we have carefully evaluated its impact on each of these pillars to ensure your Association is well positioned to deliver high-quality credit products that meet our collective mission of feeding, housing and clothing the world. A key part of our future rests with our Local Advisory Committee (LAC). This group of 48 individuals, representing diverse commodities and growing regions, provides a key touch point and sounding board for the Association. The feedback we receive at these meetings is critical, and the value we gain in the resulting dialogue keeps our Association focused on the unique needs of our customer-owners. As a member-owner, you can have full confidence that every new initiative we identify and every business plan objective we announce has been carefully evaluated — both from a near-term and long-term perspective. I am honored to serve an ethical, well regarded and forwardthinking Board and work alongside a group of exceptional, hardworking employees that are committed to your needs. I am excited about the future and look forward to enhancing our capacities as we continue our efforts to provide you with uncompromising service for years to come. ■

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Financial Highlights Farm Credit West reported net income of $179.8 million for the first six months of 2022. These year-to-date earnings are ahead of our business plan target for the second quarter. Also, during the first six months of 2022 our average loan volume increased, and we strengthened our allowance for loan losses.

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Average loan volume increased $890 million, or 7.6%, during the first six months of the year. Farm Credit West is experiencing modest levels of loan growth during 2022. At the end of the second quarter, average loan volume exceeded the secondquarter business plan target.

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DEC 31


JUN 30


Nonearning assets (nonaccrual loans plus other property owned) decreased by $10.4 million from December 31, 2021, or 14.5%, to $61.1 million at June 30, 2022. The decrease was a result of a $21.3 million reduction in nonaccrual loan volume due primarily to $13.0 million in net repayments and $11.9 million in net transfers to acquired property during the first six months of 2022. These decreases in nonaccrual volume were partially offset by $3.8 million in net transfers to nonaccrual during the first half of the year. The other property owned balance increased $10.9 million due to the acquisition of a property during the year.



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JUN 30


DEC 31

DEC 31

0.58 %


DEC 31


DEC 31

JUN 30

$ 61

$ 71

$ 100 DEC 31

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In the first six months of 2022, total members’ equity decreased $96.2 million, due primarily to a reduction in preferred stock of $253.8 million, as the preferred stock program was discontinued, and all outstanding shares were called (retired) during the first half of 2022. This decrease was partially offset by year-to-date net income of $179.8 million.


$ 126

$ 113





DEC 31


17.0 %

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JUN 30

0.56 %


18.9 %

DEC 31

0.66 %


$ 11,688

$ 10,901 DEC 31

20.4 %


0.68 %

DEC 31

20.5 %



DEC 31

$ 10,141

$ 9,603


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Our allowance for loan losses totaled $73.6 million. This was 0.58% of loan principal and interest at June 30, 2022, compared with 0.56% of loan principal and interest at December 31, 2021. The allowance is our best estimate of the amount of probable losses existing in our loan portfolio as of each balance sheet date. We determine the allowance based on a regular assessment of the loan portfolio, which generally considers recent historic charge-off experience, collateral evaluations and adjustments for other relevant economic factors.


2022 Director and Nominating Committee

Election Results Board of Directors

Congratulations to Blake Harlan and Tom Ikeda who were recently elected to the Farm Credit West Board of Directors for the 2022–2027 term. Blake Harlan Blake has been reelected to the Farm Credit West Board. He is president of Harlan Family Ranch, farming processing tomatoes, alfalfa, rice, wheat, corn, sunflowers and almonds. He also does business as Harlan Feed and is a partner in Wilson Bend Farms. Tom Ikeda Tom has been reelected to the Farm Credit West Board. He is Corporate Secretary/Operations Manager for Ikeda Bros, an agricultural production company that produces vegetables, citrus and avocados. He also serves as President of Fukuhara Farms.

Thank you to those who participated in this year’s election process. We appreciate those who agreed to serve as director candidates, Nominating Committee members/candidates and those who cast their ballots. You play an important role in Farm Credit West’s success.

Nominating Committee

The Nominating Committee is an independent committee critical to the Board election process. This group of customers is elected by voting stockholders to serve a term of one year. Their responsibilities include screening, interviewing and selecting director candidates to appear on the ballot in each director election. 2022–2023

Nominating Committee Sacramento Valley Region Matt Mariani | Jonathan Lavy Coastal Region George Adam | Nicholas Miller Southern San Joaquin Valley Region Dino Giacomazzi | Mike Frey Southwest Region Mike Blohm | Kim Grizzle 2022–2023

Alternates for the Nominating Committee Anthony Van Ruiten James Reamer Brian Medeiros Michael Dias

William Terry Brian Naumann Matt Palmer William Plourd

For more information on 2022 Board Election Results, please visit farmcreditwest.com/about-us/in-the-news/fcw-2022-board-election-results

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Kimball Family Shows Resilience in Face of Devastating Fire BY SARAH KEARBEY | PHOTOGRAPHY BY NATE CASTILLO


But farmers are tougher,” avocado grower Gordon Kimball is fond of saying.



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That might be an understatement. When the ferocious Thomas Fire broke out late in 2017 threatening his ranch in Santa Paula, California, Gordon and his family worked day and night for three days, first to preserve his mother’s home and avocado trees and then to fight the fire at home. Though they did everything they could to protect their 120 acres of mature trees, they were forced to retreat when a household propane tank exploded, throwing debris in every direction for 200 yards.

When they returned the next morning, Gordon and his family discovered they had lost their home, ranch office, barn, workshop and all farming equipment to the fire. At least 7,900 avocado trees were damaged, and all of the above-ground irrigation systems were destroyed. “We’re just glad we made it out alive,” recalls Gordon’s wife, Nancy.

receive a settlement from Southern California Edison, the power supplier. Gordon explained that his trees didn’t actually burn in the fire. “The leaf mulch at the base, which provides protection for the roots, burned,” he says. “And the bark on the trees got so hot that the green cambium layer underneath it died.”

Named for the nearby Thomas Aquinas College, the Thomas Fire was the most destructive fire in California history at the time. By the time it was fully contained in January 2018, it had burned more than 440 square miles and destroyed 1,000 structures. It is estimated to have caused at least $171 million in agricultural losses in Ventura County. Like most of their neighboring farmers, the Kimballs have been on an uphill journey to rebuild since that day. In the first year, they planted 2,000 new trees; by the second year, there were 12,000 new trees in the ground. In all, 44 acres were replanted. Besides trees, every shovel, sprinkler head, fence post and tractor needed to get the job done had to be purchased anew. Making good on its promise to stand by its customer-owners, Farm Credit West deferred principal payments and provided financing assistance for a water tank to improve the irrigation system as part of the family’s recovery.

Devastation on the Kimball Ranch After the Thomas Fire. Photo courtesy of Andrew Laenen Photography.

Before the fire, Kimball Avocados was averaging 12,000– 13,000 pounds of avocados per acre. Since then, the mature trees have produced around 3,000 pounds an acre. “So, it’s been a challenge,” Gordon says. “But we took the big gamble, with Farm Credit West’s help, and took all the insurance money and put it in new trees. Every acre that we could afford to replant, we did,” he says. At that time, the cause of the fire was unknown, and there was no guarantee of a liability payment. Later, it was determined that two power lines slapped together during high winds to spark the fire. The family may eventually

That means the semi-burned trees are partially productive and will continue producing fruit while newer plantings come online. However, planting must be done thoughtfully, since older trees can become so large their branches canopy over younger ones, blocking out sunlight. New trees must be planted in separate areas, and a precise pruning plan can help old trees produce at a maximum. “Saving the ranch has been a full-time job,” Gordon says. “If it hadn’t been for Farm Credit West, we would’ve lost the ranch, honestly. I don’t think any other lender would have taken the time or had the understanding and willingness to take the risk.” Continued on next page

Saving the ranch has been a full-time job. If it hadn’t been for Farm Credit West, we would’ve lost the ranch, honestly. I don’t think any other lender would have taken the time or had the understanding and willingness to take the risk. Gordon Kimball | Kimball Avocados

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Continued from previous page

Gordon comes from a long line of leaders and entrepreneurs. His great-grand uncle Wallace Hardison cofounded both Union Oil and citrus giant Limoneira. Another relative, Lewis Arthur Hardison, served as the first mayor of Santa Paula.

Gordon’s sister, Margaret, is involved, but also owns five acres of avocados on another nearby parcel. The family is using her farm to test different planting densities to inform the replanting effort on the main ranch.

“My grandfather EC Kimball invented the machines that mechanically prune the tops of citrus trees,” he says. “So I grew up in his shop.”

“After the fire, they came down [to my ranch] and looked at each density, and made a decision about what we would do up here for replanting,” Margaret says, adding that different pruning methods have also been studied at her ranch.

As a boy, Gordon discovered soapbox derbies and fell in love with racing. That love led him to earn degrees in mechanical engineering from Stanford University and eventually establish Kimball Engineering, where he designed Formula One race cars in England and Italy for McLaren International, Ferrari and Benetton Racing, as well as in Indianapolis. Gordon and Nancy spent a decade living in Europe before they finally decided to pick up the family penchant for farming. Their son, Charlie, who was born in England, is a professional race car driver. Today, the ranch is a family operation, with Gordon and Nancy’s daughter, Rachael, managing the day-to-day operations while also caring for her newborn son, Eugene. “We’re all about succession planning,” jokes Nancy.



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Like her brother, Margaret and her husband, William McPheron, had long careers outside of farming. The two worked at Stanford for 30 years and lived in New Mexico before returning to the area to carry on the family legacy. Admittedly, they are better together; farming is an all-handson-deck operation. The Kimballs have been lucky in that they’ve been able to employ staff year-round. “We choose to harvest our own crop, so we keep more permanent employees, and in the winter we work on improvement and maintenance projects so we can keep

them on,” Rachael says. The family also participates in the federal H-2A program as labor needs arise. When COVID-19 hit, Rachael and her family worked hard to educate their employees about safety protocols and the availability and efficacy of the vaccine. She worked closely with Ventura County to be part of a pilot program for vaccinating farmworkers. “We set up a clinic for 25 people that first February,” she says. “All of our employees were eager to get it. We started the conversation early.” Amazingly, avocado consumption during the pandemic rose slightly. Despite the decrease in purchases from restaurants, more consumers were buying the fruit to eat at home. Other local crops, such as lemons, haven’t been so lucky. In fact, consumption of avocados was steadily rising even before the pandemic. With help from a high-quality, yearround supply from Mexico, and a growing national focus on healthy eating, avocado consumption is up five times Continued on next page

Amazingly, avocado consumption during the pandemic rose slightly. Despite the decrease in purchases from restaurants, more consumers were buying the fruit to eat at home.

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Continued from previous page

what it was two decades ago. And the price hasn’t changed much in that time, according to Gordon. Another factor for the avocado’s growing popularity may be new methods for delivering ready-to-eat fruit. Avocados can take up to two weeks to ripen and, like bananas, they release ethylene gas as they do. By staging the fruit in “ripening rooms,” where ethylene is applied in a controlled environment to speed up the process, packers are able to provide consumers with fruit that is ripe — or close to it — the day they pick it up in the market. To stay informed on issues that impact them, the Kimballs are active in their local and regional agricultural communities. Rachael serves on the California Avocado Commission’s (CAC) Executive Committee, this year in the role of Vice-Chair, and has attended Farm Credit West’s Young Farmer and Rancher Institute. Gordon serves as a Director of United Water Conservation District and Fillmore Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency. He recently stepped down as Chairman of Limoneira Company after eight years but continues to serve on the board. He also sits on Farm Credit West’s Local Advisory Committee, a role he has found valuable. “It’s fascinating listening to all the different growers of different crops, and hearing what they’re dealing with,” he said. “Even though the challenges are slightly different, you realize how much you have in common.” Though it has taken everything they have to piece their farm — and collective livelihood — back together, tree by tree, the Kimball family has managed to draw up plans for a new home, one that is “grandkid-friendly,” according to Nancy. They hope to begin construction in the near future as the pinnacle piece of their rebuild effort. Together, this family is on an upward trajectory to meet and overcome the challenges of the industry, the economy and Mother Nature herself. As the sun began its daily journey over the mountains behind him, Gordon looked around at some of his surviving avocado trees before reaching into a bin for a freshly picked piece of fruit. “When the bins are full, and you know you’re supplying healthy, safe food for people to eat, there’s a degree of pride you feel,” he says. “It’s not a business you should do just because your parents owned the land; you should do it because you love it.” ■



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When the bins are full, and you know you’re supplying healthy, safe food for people to eat, there’s a degree of pride you feel. Gordon Kimball | Kimball Avocados


Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with

Chocolate Cinnamon Frosting

DARK CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE RECIPE MAKES 20 | PREP 10 minutes | COOK 15 –18 minutes INGREDI ENTS 5 Tbsp. (⅓ cup) butter 5 T bsp. (⅓ cup) ripe, fresh California avocado, seeded, peeled and mashed 1 ¼ cups granulated white sugar


➀ P re-heat oven to 350° F and line 20 muffin cups with liners. ➁ I n a medium bowl, cream together the butter and avocado until combined; add in the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

4 large eggs

➂  Mix in the eggs, almond extract and vanilla extract.

¼ teaspoon almond extract

➃ I n a separate bowl combine the flour, dark cocoa, baking powder and salt.

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour ¾ cup dark cocoa powder 2 teaspoons baking powder ¼ teaspoon salt ¾ cup whole milk

Using creamy avocados instead of butter can add a great texture without many calories. ▼

➄ S tir the dry mix into the wet, alternating with the milk, until just combined. ➅ Add the batter into the lined cups, about halfway full. ➆ B ake in the pre-heated oven, checking at 15 minutes. They’re ready when the tops spring back to touch, or a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan or on a wire rack.


INGREDI ENTS ¾ cup dark cocoa powder 7 ½ cups powdered sugar, divided 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ cup butter ¼ cup ripe, fresh California avocado, seeded, peeled and mashed 3 teaspoon vanilla extract ½ c up plus 2 Tablespoons evaporated milk


➀ I n a medium bowl, sift together 6 ½ cups powdered sugar, cocoa and cinnamon — set aside. ➁ I n a mixing bowl, whip butter and avocado until light and fluffy. ➂ A lternate adding the evaporated milk, vanilla extract and dry mix until it’s reached your desired consistency — add more powdered sugar for thicker/stickier frosting — add more evaporated milk for a creamier/ softer frosting. ➃ Pipe onto the cupcakes with a large frosting tip.

Recipe and photos courtesy of the California Avocado Commission, originally crafted by Rachel Matthews. californiaavocado.com/recipe/choco-cupcakes-chocolate-cinnamon-frosting

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Farm Credit West Participates in Jr. Livestock Auction at Yuba-Sutter Fair THE 163RD YUBA-SUTTER FAIR was held over four days in June at the Yuba-Sutter fairgrounds in Yuba City, CA. On the third day, the Junior Livestock Auction took place for local FFA and 4-H students to auction off the animals they had been raising and preparing for several months. During the event, over 500 animals were sold, which was 100 more than in 2021. Staff of Farm Credit West attended and purchased 10 animals that were put up to auction at the show and donated the champion banners and belt buckle awards.

Farm Credit West has a long history of supporting this event and is committed to supporting youth in agriculture for many years to come. PHOTOS COURTESY OF ANGIE RUFFONI.

Yuba City Branch Staff Shelby Stricklin (left) and Symren Takher (right) bid on animals at the auction. Yuba City Vice President and Portfolio Manager Shelby Stricklin attends the Yuba-Sutter Fair with her son Luke, who showed his goat in the Jr. Livestock Show. This was Luke’s first year participating in the show.

Tulare Branch Donates Blood to Help Save Lives in Their Community Farm Credit West’s Tulare Branch partnered with the Central California Blood Center to hold a mobile blood drive outside of the Tulare Regional office. Through this event, Farm Credit West staff members could easily donate blood throughout their workday. Sixteen Farm Credit West employees participated, many who were first-time donors. All blood donated at this event will go toward ensuring there is an adequate supply of blood for people in and around the Central Valley.



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Farm Credit West Sponsors FFA Project Competition Banquet The Santa Barbara Section FFA Project Competition Banquet was held in May and sponsored by Farm Credit West. This event hosted FFA students from across Northern Santa Barbara County and Southern San Luis Obispo County and presented them with awards for their work projects. The FFA Project Competition allows students with supervised agricultural experience projects as well as work experience the

ability to compete against their peers. All projects are judged based on the student’s knowledge, skill, time and effort they put into their project, presentation and record keeping and how the project plays into their future career. This year, seven Farm Credit West staff members volunteered to judge student projects in the Santa Barbara Section. Exposing youth to agriculture is vital to the future of the industry. Fostering educational competitions like the FFA Sectional Project Competition is important to Farm Credit West and would not be possible without employees volunteering their time to participate.

PICTURED ABOVE: Farm Credit West staff member Rick Mercier presents at the FFA Project Competition Banquet. PICTURED AT LEFT: (From left to right) Farm Credit West Staff Ryan Hoffman and Brian Boersma visit FFA Student Antonio Hernandez on his family’s farm in Santa Maria to evaluate his FFA work project.

Briefing on Cybersecurity Held at Farm Credit Agricultural Center The Agriculture FBI Briefing on Cybersecurity for San Diego and Imperial Valley was held at the Farm Credit West Imperial Valley Office, Farm Credit Ag Center. This event discussed best practices for cybersecurity and how food and agricultural businesses must make minimizing vulnerabilities a top priority. Farm Credit West was excited to host the in-person portion of this event since it is such a critical topic for businesses to remain safe and viable in the digitally connected world. As cyber threats in the food and ag sectors continue to increase year after year, evaluating your cybersecurity infrastructure annually is important to keeping your data secure. To learn more, read the latest installment of Tech Watch on page 22.

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D R . KO H L’ S C O R N E R

Getting Comfortable Uncomfortable WITH THE

By Dr. David M. Kohl

An uncomfortable economic environment is becoming the norm. Whether it is high inflation, increasing interest rates or volatile prices of inputs and outputs, the uncertainty can be overwhelming. While these realities, layered on top of unpredictable weather and issues finding enough productive labor, can be challenging economically, they can also take a mental toll. Here are some strategies and wisdom drawn from decades of managing through uncomfortable events in this type of economic environment. Managing the controllables

There is an old saying that is very appropriate in today’s economic environment: Manage the controllable variables and manage around the uncontrollable ones. Wasted energy and time focused on events happening in Washington D.C., Moscow and Beijing can place your business and attitude in a downward spiral. Preparing your business with a well-thought-out, written business plan that is referred to throughout the year can allow one to develop focus on the controllables. Development of written business, family and personal goals can provide the proverbial North Star — a compass to navigate through turbulent economic seas. Analogous to shooting foul shots in front of a screaming crowd, the business plan allows you to focus over the rim and follow through with your fundamentals. Then, you will make about 80% of your foul shots (unless you are Steph Curry who makes 90%), putting the business odds in your favor.

Just-in-time versus just enough

In recent years, programs implemented for inventory efficiency or just-in-time management were popular for both small and large businesses. With recent supply



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chain issues, a new term called “just enough” is in vogue. Examine your possible weak links, including the supply of parts, inputs and possible substitutes as a game plan for operations. Whether it is a crop or livestock enterprise, timing can often be linked to the bottom-line margin as a result of production yields and quality. Plans A, B, C and D can provide the depth chart for operating in a quickly changing world.

Scenario planning

A good set of financial spreadsheets that will test production, input costs and price scenarios can provide the financial and economic outcome guardrails. This not only keeps the business out of the financial “ditch,” but can be used to bring objective rather than emotional decision-making to abrupt, uncomfortable changes as they occur. As the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, financial sensitivity testing for loans with variable interest rates will need to be examined. The key is do not wait until the end of the year to compare projected cash flows to actual results. Quarterly, monthly and, in some cases, weekly reviews of cash flow results compared to projections will be necessary in this period of inflation and uncertainty.

Working capital cash bridge

I chuckled the other day when a leading financial program indicated that “cash is trash,” particularly in an inflationary environment where buying power is reduced. However, in an uncomfortable economic environment, working capital and cash can be a powerful bridge to head off economic adversity, and it allows the business to capitalize on opportunities. In both of these instances, working capital and cash can actually generate high rates of return as working capital can sometimes preserve wealth and provide the opportunity to purchase discounted assets. Whether it is a nation, business or household, financial liquidity is often the chokepoint. If you want to sleep well at night, a stockpile of working capital and cash could be a remedy to improve flexibility.

Support network

Strong economic health, similar to personal medical health, requires a support network. This is why having a team of formal and informal advisors, including your lender, can be a very valuable and useful strategy. This support network can provide insight for the uncomfortable decisions, but also assist in maintaining your focus. Just like an assistant coach provides support, an advisory team can assist in confirming or correcting mechanical and fundamental flows in your business and operational strategies and actions. Finally, take time to shut down your technology and reflect, or meditate, during the day. Exercise, both physically and mentally, to energize both the body and the mind. Watch your diet and get enough sleep or take power naps to refresh. Whether it is another individual or an animal, using a good support network can be a significant facet in your life. When you are able, providing this support to others in the agriculture industry can be a very powerful endorphin. ■

Dr. David Kohl energizes agricultural lenders, producers and business professionals with his keen insight into the agricultural industry through extensive travel, research and networking around the globe. He is a Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Finance and Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA.

Dr. Kohl has traveled nearly 10 million miles in his career and conducted over 7,000 workshops and seminars for a variety of agricultural audiences. Dr. Kohl’s personal involvement with agriculture provides a unique perspective into the future trends of the agricultural industry and economy.

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Finding the Best People for Your Team in Today’s Climate By Jeff Boian, Manager, People Solutions, MORRISON


he world of work is rapidly changing. With each new day, comes new challenges. These challenges look different — they could be related to the Great Resignation or concerns about a looming recession. In agriculture, these concerns are real and compounded by drought and other forms of inclement weather. Add inflation and other stressors you are experiencing, and it makes for a reality that is not only constantly evolving, but a very complicated one as well. That said — despite the changes and challenges — work must go on. In complex times like these, there are often opportunities for growth or for retooling. And with these opportunities, come the need to hire new people to help move forward the mission and the vision of the organization. Hiring can be hard. Morrison has a long history of helping organizations secure top talent in vitally important positions. Out of this work comes the following four helpful tips to keep in mind when looking to fill your next position.




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Do the hard work up front—it’s worth it! Write the job description to include all of the necessary and nice-to-have aspects of the positions. Be clear from the get-go. Decide if it makes the most sense to try hiring yourself or if it would be best to hire an outside consultant to help with the search. The more work that is done on the front end, the smoother the search process will be.

2 3

Have realistic expectations. Everyone wants to find the “unicorn” candidate. Don’t fall prey to thinking that you are the special, anointed organization that is going to break the job search code and find the 100% perfect candidate. Identify what are the must-haves and what are the can-live-withouts in the role. Hire the person—not the resume. Consider the difference between hiring for character and hiring for competence. Everyone wants both; however, it can be detrimental if you hire for competence over character. Pay attention to red flags throughout the interview process and if something feels “off ” with any given candidate, there’s a chance there likely is. Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions


in order to better understand the candidate’s character, which can ultimately help to determine if they are a good fit with your company’s culture. Move fast and slow…with intention. Take your time with the hire if it makes sense, but don’t drag your feet. In today’s job market, candidates are looking for answers. They likely don’t have time to wait for a third or fourth round of interviews — nor do you. If you identify a good, strong, qualified candidate that seems to fit the needs of the role and the culture of the organization, don’t be afraid to offer the job. Fear of missing out on the best candidate is real, but don’t let it hold you back from offering the job to strong candidates. If you don’t, someone else will. ■

A Chico native, Jeff Boian, M.A. recently moved back to Northern California to lead the People Solutions practice area at Morrison, a Chico-based firm offering specialized consulting services including business and accounting advisory, people solutions, and competitive grant writing and administration. Jeff’s primary areas of focus are Executive Search and Strategic Planning. He has a healthy appetite for fruits, vegetables and various California-grown tree nuts.

2022 Holiday Calendar Farm Credit West offices are closed

Columbus Day

Monday, October 10, 2022

Veterans Day

Friday, November 11, 2022

Thanksgiving Day

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Christmas Day Observance Monday, December 26, 2022

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Gaining the Local

PERSPECTIVE Farm Credit West’s Local Advisory Committee Offers Increased Representation, Input to Board and Unique Opportunity to Be Involved By Sarah Kearbey



are familiar with the 15 member Board of Directors, which oversees all major decisions at the Association and works closely with executive management to lead the organization toward a successful future. But fewer may be aware of a more grassroots leadership group at the Association: the Local Advisory Committee (LAC). This unique group of members provides valuable insight to Farm Credit West Board members and management, while receiving the benefit of a direct line of communication from the organization’s leaders.

Comprised of 48 customer-owners from four sub-regions, the LAC meets between two and four times each year. During the meetings, members report on conditions in their operations and markets, and express any needs or concerns they have. In return, they hear updates from Farm Credit West staff and Board members on topics ranging from lending conditions and agriculture economics to the Farm Credit system and the Association’s programs and initiatives.



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LAC members also enjoy hearing from speakers on a variety of topics, including water issues, politics and the economy. “Since we cover a larger footprint, we want grassroots feedback from our customers from our entire region,” explained Farm Credit West Chief Credit Officer Dan Clawson. “This group really enhances the ability for management to get that feedback.” The communication from LAC members has a direct impact, Dan said. For example, member feedback on commodity prices and conditions helps credit staff determine underwriting formulas, and Farm Credit West has implemented customer comments on online banking and cash management systems, to name a few. “The LAC allows customer-owners to strengthen their relationship with executive and senior management in an ongoing avenue, to reach out to executive staff, and give them confidence that we are moving in the right direction and achieving the goals we set,” Dan said.

LAC members are appointed by the Board and may serve up to three terms. Each term is three years, and start times are staggered among members to maintain continuity. The Board strives to appoint committee members representing a diversity of crops and regions, to reflect the Association’s wide-ranging portfolio. Because the LAC is comprised of customer-owners showing leadership skill and interest, the Farm Credit West Nominating Committee often looks to the LAC when making recommendations for new directors. Matt Palmer, who manages daily operations at VIP Farms in Thatcher, Arizona, has served on the LAC for six years. For him, the opportunity to access Farm Credit West leadership and hear from other customer-owners is one of the many unique benefits of working with the Association. “It shows that they care,” he said. “They’re not just there; they want to understand the boots on the dirt. They want to know what’s really going on out there, not just loan you money.” Matt says as a farmer, it’s easy to become isolated and feel alone in the challenges he’s facing. “But then you talk to other growers at the LAC and find out they’re having the same issues,” he said. “It’s fun to feel like you’re together and not alone. And it’s insightful to learn about people’s operations — you realize everybody has struggles and is trying to do the same.

Agriculture is a dynamic industry that changes quickly. To serve us well, Farm Credit West focuses on both educating their members and being equally educated by their members.

Nicole Van Vleck President & CEO Montna Farms

It shows that they care. They’re not just there; they want to understand the boots on the dirt. They want to know what’s really going on out there, not just loan you money.

Matt Palmer Operations Manager VIP Farms

Nicole Van Vleck, president and CEO of Montna Farms in Yuba City, California, agrees. A member of the LAC for two years, Nicole says she gains valuable insight and perspective from growers across Farm Credit West’s service area. “A lot of growers will farm in a county or two, but with the LAC we’re able to hear what’s happening all the way across California and Arizona,” she said. Hearing how other growers are handling inflationary pressures, for example, has been helpful in recent months. A customer for 25 years, Nicole says the LAC is a valueadded benefit of the Farm Credit West experience. “I think it really shows the value that the Association places on its customers,” she said. “They really intently listen to their customers when they’re asking for their input at these meetings. The staff does a really nice job of bringing in good speakers and subject matters that will be of interest to members. “Agriculture is a dynamic industry that changes quickly,” she continued. “To serve us well, Farm Credit West focuses on both educating their members and being equally educated by their members.” ■

For more information on the LAC, please visit farmcreditwest.com/about-us/board-of-directors.

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Maximizing the Relationship with Your Lender Important Questions to Ask to Help You Build Financial Strength By Matt Beyer, Vice President — Key Relationship Manager, Tempe

As a customer of Farm Credit West, you may know how important a strong relationship with your bank can be for your operation’s success. Developing the kind of connection with your lender that is based on trust and respect is priceless. Nobody knows your business better than you. However, having that kind of vulnerability can be uncomfortable at first — but can deliver big rewards for you in the future. So how do you get started?

Share what is on the horizon for your operation. The best customer/lender relationships are built on upfront transparency and an open dialogue. Share with your lender when things are going well and also when things are not. Every hit isn’t a home run. Have the courage to share you are entering a tough cycle, and work with your lender to brainstorm actions you can take to ease the pain. Analyze your planned expenses for the expected rough patch and work collaboratively with your relationship manager to build projections and tactical solutions.



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Update your lender on the current state of your finances and your business plan. Be transparent with your financial position and clearly define your five-to-ten-year vision. Giving your lender information they need to understand your current situation and future objectives will help them provide you with targeted and relevant feedback designed to help you meet your goals. For example, if you want to transition your business to support your children in seven years, how does the farm’s balance sheet (liquidity, leverage, etc.) need to look to successfully achieve that goal? Once these are defined, work with your lender to explore different options to reach these ideal metrics.

How do I stack up to my competition? As an owner-operator, you are deeply focused on the success of your business. Getting an outside perspective of how you stack up against your peers can be just the perspective you need to keep you on track to meet your goals. Each operation’s balance sheet is unique and changes over time. Ask your lender to provide you with their assessment of how you compare to others in your industry. For example, in a successful year — although profitable — were your gains at the high end or low end of your peers?

Have a new idea? Share it with your lender. An out-of-the-box idea can spark a great conversation with your lender. Never be shy to discuss new concepts. In turn, you can expect us to work with you to tackle your ideas head on to see if it is viable. Having open dialogue when discussing these ideas creates valuable knowledge-sharing. When an idea arises, there is a reason behind it. Discussing your vision with your lender can create beneficial learning experiences for both sides.

Intentionally connecting with your Farm Credit West lender to provide an outside perspective on the daily operation of your business can save you precious time, effect key decisions and help you proactively plan. You should expect your lender to always be honest with you and to provide logical input toward your goals and ideas as you build for the future. Asking the right questions and communicating openly and regularly will help ensure you are maximizing your relationship with us and building financial strength for your operation for years to come. ■

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Budgeting for Cybersecurity By David Guilmette Farm Credit West Chief Information Security Officer

Before spending frivolously on cybersecurity protections just to increase your annual spend, follow these important steps to determine your company’s appropriate level of security funding.

1 When planning your operation’s budget

for the coming year, how does cybersecurity fit into your list of priorities? Is it at the top, or is it an afterthought? The 2021 Cost of a Data Breach Report by IBM estimates the average cost of a data breach in the United States is $9.05 million — the highest in the world.1 While complete peace of mind cannot be bought when it comes to defending against cyber criminals, appropriate tools and proper planning can significantly mitigate the risks and costly impacts of a security breach.

Although the risk of cyber crime increases every year, many businesses are not investing enough to defend against the growing threats. A study released by Deloitte2 suggests that an organization should spend between 6% and 14% of its annual revenue on cybersecurity measures. Regardless of how much you are spending, there are some simple, small steps that you can take to help protect you from cyberthreats.

Take time to understand your organization’s specific cyber vulnerabilities. Without proper research, you risk spending too much money on the wrong solution for your business: So, carefully assess your current and future cybersecurity needs.


Consider conducting an assessment to determine what level of risk your company is most comfortable maintaining. Start by identifying potential financial impacts if an attack occurred, then work backward to calculate how much investment is appropriate for your comfort level.


Research cybersecurity software and determine the best fit to defend against your vulnerabilities. Take into consideration cyber threats like Ransomware, Malware, social engineering and phishing.


Build employee training and development into your budget. Most breaches are caused by human error or weak company processes. Investing in quality training programs and awareness campaigns may be the best bang for your buck. For your investment to pay off, cybersecurity cannot simply be an add-on to current processes. Training and software must permeate through your company’s policy, procedures and employee culture. Make sure each dollar spent is intentional and has a direct impact on your defense against cyber criminals.

The bottom line is that properly understanding your current cyber risks is the key to allocating the necessary resources to cyber defenses. Conducting the research up front will pay off in the long run. ■

1 IBM Security, “Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021,” July 2021. 2 FS-ISAC/Deloitte Cyber & Strategic Risk Services CISO, “Reshaping the Cybersecurity Landscape,” July 2020.



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Territory and Office Locations Yuba City Woodland

 Rocklin

Farm Credit West Administrative Office


Dinuba Tulare

Templeton Kern County Santa Maria Ventura

Tempe Imperial Valley Yuma

Rural Arizona/ Safford

ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE 3755 Atherton Road Rocklin, CA 95765 916.780.1166

KERN COUNTY 19628 Industry Parkway Drive Bakersfield, CA 93308 661.399.7360

DINUBA 940 W. El Monte Way Dinuba, CA 93618 559.591.9378

RURAL ARIZONA / SAFFORD 1120 S. 20th Avenue Safford, AZ 85546 928.348.9571

TEMPLETON 175 Cow Meadow Place Paso Robles, CA 93446 805.434.3665

WOODLAND 440 Pioneer Avenue Woodland, CA 95776 530.666.3333

HANFORD 1111 W. Lacey Boulevard Hanford, CA 93230 559.584.2681

SANTA MARIA 1178 Tama Lane Santa Maria, CA 93455 805.922.7991

TULARE 200 E. Cartmill Avenue Tulare, CA 93274 559.684.1478

YUBA CITY 1800 Lassen Boulevard Yuba City, CA 95993 530.671.1420

IMPERIAL VALLEY 485 Business Park Way Imperial, CA 92251 760.355.0291

TEMPE 3003 S. Fair Lane Tempe, AZ 85282 602.431.4100

VENTURA 2031 Knoll Drive Ventura, CA 93003 805.477.1020

YUMA 2490 S. 5th Avenue Yuma, AZ 85364 928.344.3200

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3755 Atherton Road Rocklin, CA 95765

As a grower or processor, you’re always adapting to changing times. Whether keeping up with shifting markets, upgrading technology, or expanding to support the next generation, Farm Credit West is ready to help. We love that our customer-owners think outside the box, and work with you to weigh the risks and rewards. Because sometimes, the best way forward is the one no one else has tried.

SARAH SAMPLE Apiarist | Lindsay, CA Farm Credit West Customer

Call 800.909.5050 FarmCreditWest.com