FCW Spotlight Summer 2021

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spotlight SUMMER 2021

Finding New Life on the Farm

Military veteran returns to his farming roots in life after service PAGE 6

Political Advocacy Is Vital to Your Bottom Line Weathering Economic Volatility

PAG E 16

PAG E 14


Spotlight SUMMER 2021

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President’s Message

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Customer Announcements

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Holiday Calendar

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Scholarship Recipients

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Feature Story: Finding New Life on the Farm

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rom the Farmer’s Kitchen: F Almond Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies Community Center

Tech Watch: Cautionary Tales and Best Practices

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 Sureena B. Thiara. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Yuba City, CA Vice Chair of the Board Douglas C. Filipponi. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Creston, CA Joey Airoso . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pixley, CA Robert Amarel, Jr. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Yuba City, CA Teresa Castanias. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dixon, CA

Guest Article: Political Advocacy Is Vital to Your Bottom Line

Mark A. Cook. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Willcox, AZ

Craig C. Gnos. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Davis, CA

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Dr. Kohl’s Corner: Weathering Economic Volatility

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Territory and Office Locations

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

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

Pressing on Together With 2020 now a reflection in the rear-view mirror, businesses across the agriculture sector — including this Association — are driving into the future with renewed enthusiasm. As we enter the summer months of 2021, there is increased optimism among businesses and consumers alike as signs appear that the rapid spread of COVID-19 is decelerating. Yet, while global hospitalization rates decline and economies begin to open cautiously, many remain at risk as healthcare providers race against the clock to distribute COVID19 vaccinations. While no one could have predicted the events of 2020-21, the agriculture community has rallied impressively — despite the odds — as they continue to provide food, fiber and fuel to individuals across the globe. While the risk of spread of COVID-19 decreases in communities across the United States, we are continually aware of the countless hours, unwavering commitment and intense dedication each of our customers demonstrate. For many long months, you have responded without hesitation to the needs of your family and employees, kept up to date with the changing regulatory environment and worked to reduce risk of spreading COVID-19 within your operations. As the pandemic wore on, Farm Credit West staff worked tirelessly alongside you as we continued to exceed your expectations as evidenced by very positive customer survey results during the first quarter of 2021. Loan and leasing activity remain strong and we continue to actively listen to your needs, providing a reliable, consistent source of credit to your operations.

Furthermore, your Association is well on the way to achieving several key business objectives identified by our Board of Directors for 2021. In early May we launched a new online banking system, providing users with an easy-to-navigate platform in a highly secure environment. Transition to this new software will allow for future enhancements as we work over the coming months to deliver the additional features requested by our customers. We are pressing on in our efforts to develop and refine our outreach to our diverse customer base, specifically young, beginning, small, minority, tribal and socially disadvantaged growers. You will read about one such customer later in this publication. Furthermore, we have formed a workgroup internally to examine your current experience with our Association — and how we can transfer the already excellent journey established today into a digital setting for those that would benefit from this resource. As we look to the future, your Association remains grounded in our mission as we continually work to ensure the customer comes first. Despite the constantly changing current events, our priority remains the same: to provide you with superior service at competitive rates in a timely, professional and ethical manner while we deliver a meaningful return on equity through our patronage program. We are thankful for the trust you have placed in our Association as we weather the storms of a global pandemic together; and we look forward to the future, consistently exceeding your expectations at every opportunity.

SUMMER  2021

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CUSTOMER ANNOUNCEMENTS

As a token of our appreciation for your loyalty to our Association, Farm Credit West is hosting Customer Fall Socials throughout our territory. We hope you will save the date and join us for your branch’s event.

Customer Fall

SOCIALS

SANTA MARIA Friday, September 10, 2021

KERN Monday, October 18, 2021

SAFFORD Friday, September 17, 2021

VENTURA Thursday, October 21, 2021

DINUBA Thursday, September 23, 2021

YUBA CITY Tuesday, October 26, 2021

TEMPE Wednesday, September 29, 2021

WOODLAND Thursday, October 28, 2021

IMPERIAL Thursday, September 30, 2021

TEMPLETON Thursday, November 4, 2021

YUMA Friday, October 1, 2021

HANFORD Tuesday, November 9, 2021

TULARE Thursday, October 14, 2021

A New Online Banking Experience Is Here! The new platform features enhanced security and increased efficiency, all packaged in an easy-to-use interface. Continued release of enhancements to the online customer experience are slated for the next 3–4 months.

2021 HOLIDAY SCHEDULE (Farm Credit West offices will be closed)

Independence Day

Columbus Day

Thanksgiving Day

Labor Day

Veterans Day

Christmas Eve Day

MONDAY, JULY 5, 2021

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2021

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MONDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2021 THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2021

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2021 FRIDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2021


Congratulations

2021–2022 Scholarship Recipients!

Recipients of Farm Credit West college scholarships have

year will be accepted starting in December 2021 after fall/winter

demonstrated dedication and significant contributions to their

grades become available to students.

local agricultural communities. Farm Credit West is proud to join local communities and celebrate these outstanding students. Each student will receive a $1,500 scholarship toward higher education for the 2021 – 2022 school year. This scholarship is renewable for up to three years, totaling $6,000, given students continue to maintain academic excellence. Applications for next

Farm Credit West is pleased to provide the financial resources to help students achieve their academic goals. These young people are the future of agriculture, and it is our mission to recognize and support the next generation of farmers and ranchers, especially during unprecedented circumstances.

Since the program’s inception 27 years ago Farm Credit West has provided scholarships to 266 scholars and committed over $989,500 Benjamin High

Chloe Scialo

Delaney Amarel

Shane Kasbergen

Kendall Shields

Caitlin Brown

Parker Lynch

Clarisse Tracy

Jack Dresick

Joseph Naumann

Luke Van Groningen

Logan Gingg

Grace Pantaleoni

Cassidy Zinke

Mason Haworth

Madeline Reade

Sarah Zinke

Our 2021–2022

SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS Yuba City, CA Purdue University Animal Science

Orange Cove, CA Undecided Animal Science

Fresno, CA Undecided Agricultural Business

Buckeye, AZ Undecided Business

Visalia, CA Colorado State University Plant/Crop Science

Arbuckle, CA California State University, Chico Agricultural Business

Woodland, CA Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo Agricultural Business

Somis, CA Cuesta College Rangeland Management

Newbury Park, CA University of Missouri, Columbia Agricultural Systems Technology

Gridley, CA Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo Nutrition Science

Bakersfield, CA Cal Poly, Pomona Agriculture Business & Food Industry Management

Hanford, CA California State University, Fullerton Agricultural Business

Brawley , CA Harvard University Chemical and Physical Biology

Bakersfield, CA Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo Agriculture Business, Plant Science, Agriculture Communications Visalia , CA Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo Agricultural and Environmental Plant Science

Gilbert , AZ Arizona State University Economics

Gilbert, AZ Arizona State University Environmental Engineering

SUMMER  2021

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F E AT U R E S T O RY

Finding New Life on the Farm Military veteran returns to his farming roots in life after service By Sarah Kearbey

FERNANDO MENDEZ HAD A DREAM: The early-retired U.S. Army veteran wanted to plant a 15-acre almond orchard on land he owns in Reedley, California, as the backdrop for a garden and wedding venue he hopes to create someday. But as a new farmer, nobody would give him a loan. Eight banks turned him down, including his depository bank, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Then one day, while searching online for veteran assistance programs, he learned about Farm Credit West through the Farmer Veteran Coalition, a nonprofit helping military veterans start careers in agriculture. He made a call to Farm Credit West and, after two years of hearing no, he finally heard a yes. “It was really a lifeline,” said Fernando, 39. “Farm Credit West helped me get the ball rolling. I didn’t think I was going to start my farm for another two years. It was way easier [there] than anywhere else.” Two generations ago, Fernando’s grandparents emigrated from Mexico to nearby Dinuba, California, where they farmed 30 acres of plums and peaches and ran a packing house. Growing up, Fernando helped them around the farm, driving forklifts and stamping boxes of fruit. After

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five years of service in the Army, during which he saw intense battle in Iraq, he earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees, and became an environmental engineer for the Department of Veterans Affairs. But the conditions of the job triggered his post-traumatic stress disorder, and he knew he needed a change. “I didn’t like being indoors,” Fernando said. “You can’t beat being outdoors, or seeing those mountains there.” Standing on his property, looking toward the snowcapped Sierra Nevada in the distance, he’s able to see his siblings’ plum farms that border his land, about 100 acres in total. But Fernando is diverging from the family crop with his almonds. Citing higher profitability and lower maintenance —“you don’t need a lot of workers, machines do most of the work”—Fernando says the beauty of the almond trees will create the atmosphere he’s after for a beautiful wedding


and event center on his 25-acre parcel about 30 miles southeast of Fresno. But starting an almond orchard from scratch is not a lowcost endeavor. Formerly planted with plums, the plot was set up for flood irrigation and filled with root-rotted trees needing removal. Instead of spending $30,000 to grind up the old trees, Fernando bought a grinder and ground several acres himself before burning the remainder. He also leveled and ripped the land—he thinks for the first time—and installed a new, more efficient drip irrigation system. Now, about 90 drip lines run across the field, set to bring life-giving water to his 2,000 Shasta almond trees and powered by a deep and full well on the property.

“At first, I struggled with capital,” Fernando said. “Operationally, it’s expensive to start up, and I didn’t have that upfront capital without putting my family in danger. If I hadn’t gotten the start-up loan [with Farm Credit West], my five-year plan would be a 10-year plan, my 10-year plan would be 15-year plan… It really helped push us along, and threw us years forward.” Before he could plant, Fernando had one more important step to prepare the land: fumigate for nematodes, tiny worms that harm crops and spread soil-borne diseases. After fumigating, he needed to wait 30 days to plant the trees, which he planned to do in mid-May. As a result of discovering the microscopic pests in his field, he also Continued on next page

Farm Credit West helped me get the ball rolling. I didn’t think I was going to start my farm for another two years. FERNANDO MENDEZ | Reedley, California

SUMMER  2021

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Being told no, getting denied, the delays in the process—you learn to stay mission-oriented. FERNANDO MENDEZ | Reedley, California

Continued from previous page

decided to upgrade his trees to Nemaguard Shasta almond trees, which defend against nematodes. “Initially I wasn’t planning on Nemaguard trees, because they’re expensive,” he said, adding that the decision cost him about $2 more per tree. “But my loan helped me do things right the first time, so I don’t have to worry about it down the road.” A savvy businessman, Fernando is making the most of opportunities available to him. The USDA’s Farm Service Agency covered half the cost of his drip irrigation line because it helped meet requirements of water table conservation legislation. Similarly, the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District paid him $52,000 to part with his older diesel-burning John Deere tractor. He used the funds to buy a newer more efficient tractor. He is considering installing solar to help offset water pumping costs, and he has a secondary business idea of opening up a compost facility to help farmers meet more stringent environmental and air pollution control laws. He also knows how expensive and difficult it can be to get bees for tree pollination. Fernando estimates it would cost him $7,500 per year in bees to pollinate his trees once they reach maturity, so he’ll begin beekeeping this year to set himself up for success in the long run. Fernando credits his time in the military for the grit and resourcefulness he displays daily in his new life on the farm. “Being told no, getting denied, the delays in the process— you learn to stay mission-oriented,” he said. As a disabled veteran, he has a keen interest in helping

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other veterans. His own PTSD keeps him fully connected to the U.S. military for support, and he has Army friends who struggle with daily life post-service. Part of his dream is to someday partner with Fresno State or another entity focused on veteran outreach and offer to teach his fellow veterans how to farm. “They can come out here and learn, whether it’s beekeeping, small vegetables or almond fields,” he said. “There’s no one right now in the veteran field holding my hand. So down the road I want to be able to do that. A lot of guys come out of the military and they’re lost. It’s rough.” Fernando added that he’s had several veterans come out to his farm to help take down the old plum trees with a chain saw. “Connecting with the earth and being out here, it’s good for them,” he said. Above all, it is clear that his love for farming and his fellow veterans is surpassed only by his love for his family. In 2014, Fernando purchased his land from his parents to help provide for their retirement, and they currently reside in the two-story home on the property. He and his wife, Neru, live 40 minutes away in Fresno with their two small children: Fateh, 4, whose name means “victory” (in Arabic), and Simran, 3, whose name translates to “prayer” (in Punjabi). “So together, they mean victory in prayer,” Fernando said, his eyes lighting up. The phrase rings true for this hardworking farmer, who just needed someone to believe in him.


F R O M T H E FA R M E R’ S K I T C H E N

GLUTEN FREE

Almond Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies INGREDIENTS

By Sylvia Harrell, Rocklin

1¼ cups gluten free 1:1 baking flour ½ teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon baking powder ½ teaspoon fine salt 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

¾ cup smooth almond butter, at room temperature

½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar 1 large egg, at room temperature 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup milk or dark chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°.

Whisk together dry ingredients in medium bowl.

•  In

large bowl, cream together the butter, almond butter and brown sugars. Stir in egg and vanilla. Add flour in thirds and stir until smooth.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Roll the mixture into golf ball sized balls.

•  Bake

for 10 minutes on a non-stick baking pan, rotating pan halfway through baking. Using a large spoon, gently flatten cookies and bake for two minutes longer.

Cool cookies on baking sheet.

R E C I P E S U B M I T T E D B Y S Y LV I A H A R R E L L Sylvia Harrell joined Farm Credit West in 2017 and is an artist, wife, and mother of two adult sons and a golden retriever pup. In her free time, Sylvia enjoys the ocean, hiking and kayaking. She maintains a gluten-free diet and an active lifestyle.

Do you have a great recipe to share? Email your recipe to marketing@farmcreditwest.com and it could be featured in our next issue.

SUMMER  2021

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COMMUNITY CENTER

must! charities: Stronger Together OVER THE PAST SEVERAL YEARS, Farm Credit West has supported must! charities, an organization dedicated to driving charitable impact throughout the North County of San Luis Obispo. Must! charities prioritizes giving that inspires and creates lasting solutions to critical community needs. By connecting visionary leadership with strategic philanthropic investments, must! charities works with existing nonprofits to make a greater, more focused impact in the community. Operating under a "stronger together" vision, must! charities works with investments from local organizations — like Farm Credit West — to address the most significant community needs. Must! charities impact spans across a variety of sectors, including education, healthcare, mentoring and addressing

Pictured: FCW's Tom McGuire (left) and Tim Kensinger (right) present a $2,500 donation to must! charities.

unemployment. Their previous work includes projects to help the Boys and Girls Club, El Camino Homeless Organization, the San Luis Obispo Food Bank and the San Luis Obispo Big Brothers Big Sisters. When the devastating impacts of the pandemic hit our communities, must! initiated the COVID Community Response Project to provide the local San Luis Obispo community with relief. Farm Credit West prioritized stewardship to this effort — 100% of which went directly to provide resources to families affected by the pandemic. Since its inception in August 2020, the COVID Community Response Project has contributed over $100,000 in direct aid to the community and helped over 150 people remain housed.

Where in the World Is FCW? Do you take your Farm Credit West items with you wherever you go? Send a picture to marketing@farmcreditwest.com and let us know where you have been with your FCW swag! Sand Dollar Beach, Big Sur, California Photo submitted by Paula Dooley, Stephen Ross Wine Cellars

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California Women for Agriculture and Farm Credit West Farm Credit West is proud to actively support California Women for Agriculture (CWA). CWA is a volunteer agricultural organization, with a diverse membership of bankers, lawyers, professionals, and consumers, as well as farmers and ranchers. Since 1975, the association’s mission has been to educate, advocate and promote agriculture throughout the state. Because of the organization’s deeply rooted mission in agriculture, their educational outreach to legislators, and the scholarships provided to students entering agriculture as a career field, Farm Credit West invests in opportunities to support CWA chapters at the state and local level. Many of our branches are loyal members of their local CWA chapters and donate to fundraising and charitable events. A handful of Farm Credit West employees are also involved in their local chapters and give their time to board positions. Across the communities we serve, CWA is making a meaningful impact and Farm Credit West looks forward to continuing to support their ongoing mission.

Helping Veterans Find a Way to Agriculture Farm Credit West is pleased to be a partner of the Farmer Veteran Coalition. The Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization assisting veterans and currently serving members of the Armed Forces to embark on careers in agriculture. The mission of this organization is to mobilize veterans to feed America. Through their educational and fellowship programs, FVC is making an impact in the lives of our nation's heroes by helping them discover opportunities, as well as the physical and psychological benefits of a life in agriculture. Each year, FVC awards grants to aspiring farmer veterans through the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund. Through this program, FVC works with third-party

vendors to award equipment and supplies to veterans that will make a significant impact in the launch of their farm business. The fellowship receives applications from veterans from diverse backgrounds, many who have been wounded, injured or are ill as a result of service. Annually, members of Farm Credit West’s executive team dedicate many hours to serve on an advisory panel to review applications to help determine grant recipients. Determining recipients is no small task, as each story is unique and full of determination and grit. Since 2011, nearly $3 million has been awarded to farmer veterans across the nation.

industry. To learn more about the impact the Farmer Veteran Coalition is having on young, beginning, veteran farmers, read our feature story about Fernando Mendez, beginning on Page 6. Please also visit farmvetco.org for a complete listing of programs and farmer veteran testimonials.

Farm Credit West is a proud supporter of this organization and the work they do for our service members and the agricultural

SUMMER  2021

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T E C H WAT C H

Cautionary Tales and Best Practices By David Guilmette, Farm Credit West Chief Information Security Officer

Cyberattacks are at an all-time high as hackers become increasingly sophisticated and desperate amid the ongoing pandemic. At Farm Credit West, protecting your personal information from cyberattacks is our highest priority. Our Association strives to follow ever-evolving best practices proven to be highly effective in the financial industry. We require staff attend regular trainings to discuss potential risks that could lead to a security breach. Over the past year, we have updated our systems, procedures and policies to ensure your funds are kept safe and secure, through multifactor authentication and visual verification. However, the risk of falling victim to a hacker or having your account compromised — while mitigated — cannot be completely eliminated. Common characteristics of successful attacks involve spying and manipulation as hackers monitor email accounts — sometimes for days or weeks — looking for financial transactions to occur. Unnoticed to you, they can learn to communicate as you do and disguise themselves until they ultimately receive the fraudulent money transfer. Your account can be compromised in different ways:

Unfortunately, hacking has impacted some Farm Credit West customers in the past. By sharing the following real-life scenarios*, our hope is that you ask yourself: Could this happen to me? Am I doing enough to protect my account? Together, we can avoid falling victim to cyberhackers. *Details have been modified and changed to protect the identity of the subjects.

CUSTOMER COMPROMISED

Without his knowledge, a rancher’s email account was hacked. The rancher had reused the same credentials on multiple sites, so cyberhackers were able to access several of the rancher’s accounts by utilizing breached data of usernames and passwords that was posted online. The hacker was then able to access the rancher’s financial accounts and successfully obtain a fraudulent transfer of funds. How this situation could have been avoided:

w Malware can be installed on your PC after you click on a link

w Create long and complex passwords that can’t be easily guessed

delivered through a phishing email. This grants a hacker complete control of your device.

or cracked so that attackers cannot access your accounts.

w Your login information can be part of a large information breach

and you use the same credentials for multiple websites.

ACTUAL HACKING SCENARIOS

w Change credentials often and use different passwords

for each website where a login is required.

w Your password and credentials are too simple and can be

easily guessed.

CUSTOMER COMPROMISED

HACKER

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EMAIL ACCOUNT HACKED

ACCESS TO ALL PERSONAL INFO AND FINANCIAL ACCOUNTS

OBTAINS FRAUDULENT TRANSFER OF FUNDS


BUSINESS EMAIL COMPROMISE

HACKER

CEO EMAIL ACCOUNT HACKED

VENDOR HACKED

EMAILS REQUEST TO CFO TO TRANSFER FUNDS

HACKER

BUSINESS EMAIL COMPROMISE

The CFO of a processing facility received an email from the CEO requesting that funds be transferred from the company’s bank. Without verifying the transaction request over the phone or carefully checking the wire instructions, the CFO contacted the bank and processed the transaction. Once the funds were deposited, the CFO called the CEO verifying the transaction had been placed. Unfortunately, the CEO was unaware of the request, as his account had been hacked without his knowledge. By the time they realized what had happened, the money had been deposited into a hacker’s account. How this situation could have been avoided:

VENDOR EMAIL ACCOUNT HACKED

HACKER SENDS REQUEST TO FARMER'S BANK TO SWITCH LOAN PAYMENTS TO A FRAUDULENT ACCOUNT

w Verify senders of emails or texts, especially those asking

for private information or making suspicious requests.

w Examine emails for inconsistent communication styles,

unfamiliar email addresses or fuzzy logos. This could be a sign of a malicious email.

w

tilize multifactor authentication whenever offered to avoid U email hacks and compromised accounts.

VENDOR HACKED

A Farm Credit West customer was in escrow with a leasing agent to purchase farm equipment. During this transaction the leasing agent’s email account was compromised. Unknown to anyone, the hacker was monitoring communications between the customer, leasing agent and Farm Credit West. Armed with this knowledge, the hacker created an email address that appeared very similar

to the customer’s. They then drafted a message to Farm Credit West’s accounting team in a manner that mimicked the customer’s communication style, requesting funds be wired to a fraudulent account. Upon receipt of this request, Farm Credit West staff called the customer to confirm the request. The customer immediately recognized they were a victim of a fraudulent attack and denied the request to transfer funds. How this situation could have been avoided: w Ensure that communication discussions regarding financial

transactions are conducted in a secure manner.

SUMMER  2021

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GUEST ARTICLE

POLITICAL ADVOCACY Is Vital to Your Bottom Line A CALIFORNIA PERSPECTIVE by Emily Rooney, Agricultural Council of California President

Since its beginnings, California has represented the American dream. From the time of the Gold Rush to the Dust Bowl, and now the present, people identify our state with an ideal life. Agriculture has been the foundation of that dream.

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At the same time, the last census highlighted that 95% of California’s residents live in urban areas and that number is increasing. This phenomenon is reflected in our state government, as it is highly urbanized with very few farmers among our elected and appointed officials.

In a heavily urbanized state, we need partners outside of agriculture on the policy front. By taking a “listen first” approach, we can better understand the motivations of others and work to create solutions that achieve compatible goals. Below are a few recent examples.

On the receiving end of these changes, it can make the agricultural community question the future of the industry in California. While some decisions are made without our input, there is also opportunity to take these challenges and open the door to other possibilities, if we have an open mind. This mindset has helped open many doors in the state Legislature to the potential benefit of the industry and resulted in wins at the ballot box.

Many California schools and state institutions are purchasing imported products for their food programs. In 2017, we worked with the Legislature to understand why our tax dollars were not prioritizing domestic products and schools were not complying with federal mandates to do so. Ultimately, we were able to pass legislation to drive schools to improve adherence to the Buy American provision when purchasing food products. Ag Council is now collaborating with legislators and labor

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union advocates to take this effort a step further to set a standard for all state institutions to prioritize domestic food products in their purchasing programs. We are hopeful legislation will pass this year. Agriculture has worked with the Brown and Newsom Administrations to create a package of incentive dollars funded by the statewide cap-and-trade program to help agriculture reduce emissions throughout the food system — from diesel engine replacement programs at the farm level to a grant program for food processors. California has invested approximately $1 billion in climate-smart agriculture programs to date — a program that could have never come to fruition without the joint advocacy from our Association and other agricultural organizations, as well as support from the California Air Resources Board and both Administrations. In one of our most recent efforts, Ag Council worked with the California Farm Bureau Federation, the Western Growers Association and the California Business Roundtable in an effort to defeat Proposition 15 on the November 2020 ballot. Prop. 15 would have repealed Prop. 13 tax benefits for agriculture — a terrifying prospect for many farmers. We defeated this contentious ballot proposition by pursuing an industrywide collaborative approach, with a successful campaign driven by a diverse group of political consultants. Farming in California is not for the weak at heart — and neither are its politics — but it is vital that we stay engaged.

To create change, it takes active participation in the process at all levels. At Ag Council, we speak about the positive effect of the good work our members are doing as part of our mission. However, those of you involved directly in agriculture are the only ones that truly know the daily challenges, the consistent on-farm and food processing improvements, and potential opportunities on the business front. For example, by understanding and actively engaging our members, Ag Council was able to create the Food Production Investment Program at the California Energy Commission. Now dozens of food processors have received tens of millions of dollars in grant funds to improve energy and water efficiencies and reduce emissions throughout the state. During the 2020 election, through the generous support of our members, we were able to contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to the effort to defeat Prop. 15, which would have resulted in massive property taxes for farmers if it had passed. All of these activities matter as does the industry’s active political participation. The saying goes, “A rising tide lifts all ships,” and this is absolutely true in the advocacy world. The American dream may look different in California these days, but it is up to us to work to create the dream we want for our future generations.

LOOKING FOR WAYS TO REACH YOUR LEGISLATOR? Use one of the following resources to find your representative’s contact information: Emily Rooney is the president of Agricultural Council of California.  Founded in 1919, Ag Council is a member-supported organization advocating for 15,000 farmers across California, ranging from small, farmerowned businesses to the world’s bestknown brands. Emily joined Ag Council in 2008. Prior to her work with Ag Council, Emily served as director of farm policy for the California Farm Bureau. She also has legislative experience from public service in Washington, D.C., where she worked for two members of congress. Emily is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, and Class 39 of the California Agricultural Leadership Program.

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative U.S. SENATOR: https://www.senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.htm STATE LEGISLATOR: https://openstates.org/ Want to learn more from Emily and Agricultural Council of California? Tune in and subscribe to the Capitol Farm Connection Podcast on Apple, Spotify or Google platforms or visit www.agcouncil.org. Scan the QR Code at right to listen to available episodes.


D R . KO H L’ S C O R N E R

Weathering Economic Volatility By Dr. David M. Kohl

THE DECADE OF THE 2020s will be defined as one of economic

and financial divide. Whether it is business or personal financials, the business IQ will be imperative. What are some of the specific elements necessary to place one on the positive side of the ledger?

E

conomic volatility will be extreme, whether it is on the price or expense side for a business or household. Agriculture is very dependent on global trade. As much as 20% of net income, higher for some commodities, is a result of trade. The agriculture industry will be at the mercy of trade agreements and global economic power shifts. Couple these elements with supply and marketing

chain concentrations in both the U.S. and globally, along with many larger businesses utilizing just-in-time inventory management. Together these factors are a recipe for abrupt changes in the financial landscape of an industry or business. Management strategies will include executing a marketing and risk management program. Financial liquidity will be necessary for both the business and the household. Building your working capital to 25% of total expenses, with 20 to 30% that can be turned into cash within 120 days, can provide a buffer for adversity and the dry powder needed for opportunities. In the household budget, maintain four to eight months of expenses as a cash reserve. Whether it is the U.S. or globally, geopolitical unrest will be a fact of life for this decade. Political power shifts and the ever-changing agendas fueled by social and mainstream media will provide an environment of uncertainty. The astute managers will manage the controllable variables of the business and manage around the uncontrollable variables. They will focus time and energy on production and operational efficiency, seeking a marketing and competitive edge with a sound plan. The uncontrollable variables will constantly tempt one's attention, therefore having a game plan to manage around these elements will be imperative.

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Spotlight

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The business IQ will require a two-pronged approach. One aspect will focus on being adaptable, flexible and innovative. Spurring creativity sometimes requires an advisory team such as a crop or livestock consultant, agricultural lender or a peer. These individuals can assist in challenging the status quo and can provide perspective from a 30,000-foot level. Sometimes an educational conference or good webcast can generate new ideas or confirm your gut feelings. The other side of the equation relates to your discipline and focus. This requires one to follow a process such as developing a projected cash flow and a marketing and risk management plan. Others may develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) in recruitment, management and retention of labor. Managers with a high business IQ will focus on monitoring monthly cash flows and key performance indicators (KPIs) in production of livestock, crops and operational efficiency. The 2020s will be a decade of transition. Whether it is producers, agribusiness or agricultural lenders, the key is not to wait too long before integrating the next generation. Make sure they are gaining the right skill sets to take the business to the next level. This is where an internship

or working away from the industry or family business provides a whole new mindset that can be adapted to agricultural businesses. The next generation will focus on the management of land, labor, capital and information. Predictive analytics, using data from fields, livestock, suppliers and consumers to predict trends and behavior patterns, will become what was once perceived as science fiction post-World War II. Finally, this decade of financial divide will also affect the agri-entrepreneur. Whether it is niche markets or side gig businesses, these enterprising individuals will align and utilize talents, experiences and expertise for profits and diversification. Success during the financial divide will come down to thinking globally but acting locally. As the great hockey player Wayne Gretzky said, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” While he was undersized, just like Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors, hard work, discipline and a balanced approach to life allowed them both to shine in their profession, just like you can shine in the agriculture industry.

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, Virginia.

Dr. Kohl has traveled over 9 million miles in his career and conducted over 6,000 workshops and seminars for a variety of agricultural audiences. Additionally, 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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Territory and Office Locations Yuba City Woodland

« Rocklin

Farm Credit West Administrative Office

Hanford

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

$ 309,900

$ 322,800

Youth

Farm Credit West donated over $969,000 to our local communities in 2020, and we are on track to give even more in 2021.

Industry Support

Stewardship $969,600 IN 2020

$4,300

$150,300

Veteran Programs

Food Programs

$47,400

Education & Research $134,900

Rural Communities