Farm Credit of the Virginias announces the 2015 Calendar Photo Contest Winners

Best friends_Pammy Mitchell  We are pleased to announce the top 3 Winners of our 2015 Photo Calendar Contest.  The contest was extremely successful and competitive, with over 300 photo entries and 1,600 votes! First place goes to Pammy Mitchell of Upper Tract, WV, Second Place to Melanie Craig of Bedford, VA, and Third place to Mary Dunn of Peterstown, WV. The top 3 photos can be viewed on the Farm Credit of the Virginias’ website.  The top 12 photos will be featured in the 2015 Calendar with other entries from this year’s contest making appearances as well. Congratulations to all of our winners and everyone that participated. Please visit our website beginning January 1st to participate in the 2016 Calendar Photo Contest.

Farm Credit of the Virginias provides over $1.5 billion dollars in financing to more than 10,000 farmers, agribusinesses and rural homeowners throughout Virginia, West Virginia and western Maryland. Farm Credit is a cooperative capitalized largely through investments made by farmers, ranchers and the rural homeowners and businesses that borrow from them.  Farm Credit helps maintain and improve the quality of life in rural America and on the farm through its constant commitment to competitive lending,  expert financial services and for facilitating and sharing knowledge and resources through the Farm Credit Knowledge Center.   For more information, visit or

Categories: General Information



   September 15 marked the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, a 30-day celebration of Hispanic and Latino cultures and their contributions to America. Nowhere is this contribution more important than in agriculture, where an increasing number of Hispanic and Latino principle operators are growing the crops to feed the nation.The 2012 Ag Census found that the number of Hispanic and Latino farmers and ranchers increased 21 percent over 2007, bringing the total number to almost 100,000. These producers manage 67,000 farms covering 21 million acres, and contributed $8.6 billion in agricultural products to the economy.

Hispanics and Latinos are thriving in agriculture and several organizations are dedicated to helping this success continue into the future by preparing the next generation of producers. Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, or MANRRS, delivers personal and professional development opportunities to its 1,400 student members, including Hispanics and Latinos. Supported in part by Farm Credit’s National Contributions Program, MANRRS holds workshops and educational conferences that help prepare students for a career in agriculture, with upwards of 60 percent of members joining the industry. In addition, the Farm Credit National Contributions Program provides support to the Latinos in Agriculture Leaders Conference and the National FFA organization, which includes 55,000 Hispanic and Latino student members.

With a U.S. population of 53 million, Hispanics and Latinos are a significant part of our culture, in agriculture and beyond. Farm Credit is proud to finance many Hispanic and Latino agricultural producers, producers like Juan Pagan-Caraballo, Orlando Cadena, the Garay family and the Garcia family, providing them the capital they need to continue running and growing their operations. In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing some of their stories as part of our celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. In the meantime, we’d like to say thank you to all the hard working farmers and ranchers who produce the food, fuel and fiber on which we all rely.

Categories: General Information


By Karen Macdonald

Hispanic Month


September brings shorter days with a special crispness in the air, along with the harvest of a variety of delicious summer crops. Many of us will also enjoy the start of football season and all the tailgate and halftime treats that come with the game and come from the efforts of America’s farmers and ranchers. Here’s what else we have to look forward to this month:

  • Hispanic Heritage Month starts on September 15, a 30-day celebration of the heritage and culture of our Hispanic and Latino Americans citizens and the contributions they make to the U.S. Nowhere is this contribution more apparent than in farming: according to the most recent Ag Census, the number of Hispanics and Latin Americans in agriculture increased 21 percent between 2007 and 2012 to reach 67,000 farm and ranch operators. Join Farm Credit of the Virginias later this month as we celebrate the 17th International Festival at Harrisonburg’s beautiful Hillandale Park on September 27 from 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM.


  • The State Fair of Virginia kicks off September 26- October 5. Come see Virginia’s finest animals and agriculture, exhibits and shows, toe-tappin’ music, fine arts and crafts, blue ribbon competitions and more!


  • Of course, we also celebrated Labor Day  this week, a day set aside each year to acknowledge the contributions of American workers. While the event was initially focused on more urban, unionized workers like machinists and carpenters, there can be no question that American farmers and ranchers are among the hardest working citizens in our nation – many of whom undoubtedly worked through Labor Day, caring for their crops and herds. We thank all our agricultural producers for their efforts to bring safe, abundant and affordable food to our tables throughout the year.


Categories: General Information

Farm Credit Basics: Cooperative Principle #1

Cooperatives are organizations structured and managed according to seven guiding tenets established in 1844 and formally known as Rochdale Principles of Co-operation. This blog series explores each of these Cooperative Principles. 

The first principle of cooperatives – Voluntary and Open Membership – contains three distinct ideas that underlie some of the key differences between traditional commercial businesses and businesses organized as cooperatives.


Just like consumers in a free economy aren’t forced to purchase from a particular store, no one can be forced to join a cooperative. With agricultural businesses, this means that even if a regional grain marketing cooperative is in place, every grain farmer within its area is not required to join the cooperative. Instead, each farmer can choose to join, or choose to market his or her own crops outside the bounds of the cooperative, perhaps even in competition with it.


At the same time, anyone who meets the membership eligibility criteria for a cooperative is allowed to join it, without discrimination. This includes discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or disability. Using the regional grain marketing cooperative example, this means that every single grain farmer within the defined region is eligible to join the cooperative, providing they’re able to live up to the responsibilities of membership.

Membership eligibility for cooperatives varies. For a cooperative dairy processing company, it might include dairy producers within a specific geographic region; for a credit union, membership eligibility might depend on working for, or having a family member work for, a particular employer. Farm Credit’s eligibility list includes farmers and ranchers, agribusinesses and agricultural cooperatives both small and large, including name brands like Land O’Lakes and Ocean Spray.

“No matter the size or type of operation, any farmer or rancher is eligible to borrow and become a member-owner of a local Farm Credit association,” says Bill Oemichen, Cooperative Network president and CEO. “Membership is open to people of all ages, economic and ethnic backgrounds, and this is one of the many ways that Farm Credit is unique and serves local communities.”


Cooperatives are formed to conduct business activities, and the individuals or businesses who join the cooperative become members. As members, they are expected to meet certain responsibilities and they benefit from certain rights or privileges. These rights and responsibilities are explained through some of the Cooperative Principles, and include having a say in how the cooperative is governed and sharing in the profits of the business.

For Farm Credit organizations, our members are our borrowers, the very people who use our services. When a farmer, rancher or agricultural cooperative is approved for a loan – still a required step as part of sound lending practices – they become a member-owner of their cooperative, and they’ll remain a member-owner until their initial and any subsequent loans are paid off. Because of the capital needs of agriculture, many agricultural producers and businesses have been Farm Credit member-borrowers for decades and even generations.


Categories: General Information

Farm Credit of the Virginias Reports 2nd Quarter Earnings


Staunton, Virginia – Farm Credit of the Virginias, a customer-owned financial cooperative, reported second quarter 2014 net income of $7.5 million.  This brings the net income of the cooperative for the first six months to $16 million.  “We are pleased with our second quarter and year-to-date financial results, which reflect positive trends across most areas of our operations,” said David Lawrence, Chief Executive Officer of Farm Credit of the Virginias.  “We experienced increased loan demand across our markets, which resulted in the strongest quarterly loan growth we have experienced in several years.”


“We are also pleased to pay out our 2013 patronage dividend totaling $21 million in cash to our customer-owners during the second quarter.  This demonstrates how the cooperative model works by having our customer-owners share in the cooperative’s earnings,” said Mr. Lawrence.


Farm Credit of the Virginias’ loan portfolio increased $34 million during the second quarter and totaled over $1.528 billion at June 30, 2014.  Credit quality of the loan portfolio remained strong, with 95% of the loans classified as acceptable.  Improved profitability in the livestock, poultry and dairy industries and a strengthening of the general economy has helped the cooperative maintain the credit performance of its loan portfolio.


Farm Credit of the Virginias provides over $1.5 billion dollars in financing to more than 10,000 farmers, agribusinesses and rural homeowners throughout Virginia, West Virginia and western Maryland. Farm Credit is a cooperative capitalized largely through investments made by farmers, ranchers and the rural homeowners and businesses that borrow from them.  Farm Credit helps maintain and improve the quality of life in rural America and on the farm through its constant commitment to competitive lending,  expert financial services and for facilitating and sharing knowledge and resources through the Farm Credit Knowledge Center.   For more information, visit or


Categories: General Information

Farm to Plate: Labor Day


Labor Day was established to recognize the efforts of American workers and their contributions to the country. As far back as 1882, the importance of these achievements was recognized and while the initial holiday was focused on laborers whose efforts had fueled the Industrial Revolution, today few people work harder or longer than America’s farmers and ranchers.

Here’s a look at what goes into raising just a few of the foods you may be enjoying this holiday weekend:

  • Dairy: From the milk in your morning coffee to the cheese on your burger, dairy is an everyday food for millions of Americans. The farmers who help bring milk to your table labor every day – weekends and holidays included – because cows need to be milked several times each day or they’ll stop producing. To streamline this daily routine, some farmers like Paul Meyer are moving to robotic milking systems that automatically milk the cows and track production. Of course, these systems don’t eliminate all the work: raising forage and feed crops, feeding the cows, monitoring their health, caring for their young and continuing to ensure food safety is an integral part of every dairy farmer’s day.
  • Produce: The colorful array of fruits and vegetables found in most grocery stores is only possible because of the hard work of the farmers who grow it. At Betteravia Farms, CEO Craig Reade has established a year-round process that starts with selecting the right seeds to plant in fields that have been properly prepared. Plants are monitored for health throughout their growth, with special attention to identify any insect infestations, diseases or fungal infections that can destroy a crop. Harvest is done by hand, and finding laborers willing to do this backbreaking work is a growing challenge.
  • Beef: How many different agricultural operations does it take to create a single hamburger? Quite a few, as it turns out. Much U.S. cattle starts off at a cow/calf operation like that run by the Bartaks, where female cows are bred and their calves sold once they’re weaned. The stocker operations who purchase the calves feed them until they reach a certain weight before selling them to a feeder operation, where the cattle continue growing before moving on to a feed lot. Loren Doll Incorporated is an integrated operation encompassing several companies that manage these different stages of growth. The company also includes one business that focuses on raising corn silage and forage crops to feed the cattle, although the ration at the feed lot includes higher calorie contents that are purchas


Categories: General Information

From the Field: 4-H CWF Builds New Generation of Ag Leaders

By Mikayla Bodey



Mikayla Bodey is currently a sophomore at The Ohio State University, pursuing a degree in public affairs with a concentration in nonprofit administration. Mikayla grew up on a small family farm in Ohio where she raised Clydesdale horses and market hogs during her time in 4-H and FFA. Find Mikayla on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.This summer, nearly 1,400 young people participated in Citizenship Washington Focus (CFW) – a week-long citizenship program at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center, just minutes outside of Washington, D.C. 4-H’ers are known for their supreme leadership and citizenship skills, and the CWF program allows these young people to hone and exercise these abilities in our nation’s capital. As a program assistant, I had the great honor of guiding and educating delegates the entire summer, as they participated in workshops, committees and field trips.

Delegates spend their week exchanging ideas and forming friendships with other 4-H youth from across the country. Valuable discussions regarding norms, regional differences, and 4-H traditions provide a new perspective for delegates as they return home. However, the hands-on learning experience within the historical backdrop of Washington, D.C. delivers real life lessons on leadership from memorialized leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and many more.

The informal learning environment of CWF begins with workshop groups in which delegates are charged with the task of writing a bill for relevant government topics. Once delegates have completed the bill writing process, they must present, debate and vote on the bills in our Congressional Session.  Learning first-hand the difficulties of creating and passing effective legislation leaves the delegates with a new appreciation for the job of Congress, democracy and teamwork.

This summer one of those topics was federal crop insurance through subsidies and direct payments. I had the opportunity to work with the delegates focusing on this topic. This issue was relevant to the youth for its connection to agriculture, but also helping the youth understand the role of government in agriculture. This helped delegates engage with their Senators and Representatives on Capitol Hill Day, about agriculture and understanding the power of their voice.

Each week delegates receive a committee assignment, which encourages delegates to use their personal strengths. Committees include Healthy Living, Open-Mindedness, Government, Responsibility, Talent, and Communications, and each committee is focused on various topic-specific activities to inspire further positive growth in their areas of interest.

Farm Credit has played a pivotal role in the success of this year’s CWF program. Farm Credit’s support provided scholarships for 70 delegates and Cooperative Extension personnel from 1890 and 1994 land-grant universities from across the U.S. to attend CWF. Watching these delegates experience Washington, D.C. while broadening their knowledge and understanding of our federal government was rewarding and inspiring.

Technology has become a platform for young people to share their experiences, and Farm Credit also provided all of the 2014 CWF delegates the tools and training to do just that. Farm Credit donated 11 iPad minis at the beginning of the summer to encourage photography, blogging, and social networking among delegates during their time at CWF. As the Program Assistant heading up the Communications Committee, I used the iPads as a teaching tool when discussing social media best practices and pitfalls, and while helping delegates produce a weekly slideshow for our closing ceremony. Delegates also had the opportunity to participate in the #CWFHunt Social Media Scavenger Hunt on Twitter and Instagram during their week in D.C.

Because of Farm Credit’s commitment to positive youth development through CWF, countless young people have walked away with a greater sense of value and purpose. Understanding the importance of civic and social responsibilities at a young age prepares young people not only for the future, but helps them see the difference they can make now. 4-Hers have endless potential to better our country’s future. I couldn’t be more excited to see their successes long after their experience at CWF through online community building, social networking and connecting again at future events.

Categories: General Information

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