Farm Credit of the Virginias recently completed the 2013 director election by mail after receiving all ballots. The members elected to serve a four year term are Donald W. Reese, Ronald L. Bennett, James F. Kinsey and Donna Brooke-Alt.
Donald W. Reese (incumbent), 48, is from Scottsburg, VA where he manages his family vegetable farm, Reese Farms, Inc. along with his father and brother. Reese also owns and operates, along with his wife, Sara, Reese’s Farm Fresh Produce, a retail produce and greenhouse operation with two locations. He is a member and former board member of Halifax County Farm Bureau and serves on the Halifax County FFA Advisory Committee. He is an active member of the Scottsburg Baptist Church, serving as a deacon, Sunday school teacher and youth leader. Mr. Reese graduated from Virginia Tech with a B.S. in Animal Science. He and Sara have three children, Will 21, Kent 18 and Sara Beth 15. Mr. Reese has been a Farm Credit director since 2006.
Ronald L. Bennett (incumbent), 60, of Covington, VA is owner/operator of Watahala Dairy Farm. He operates the family dairy in Alleghany County with his wife Rebecca, father Harry and sons Ronald J. and Elijah. The family has been Farm Credit members for over 64 years. Mr. Bennett serves on the Alleghany County Farm Bureau Board, the Alleghany/Rockbridge/Bath F.S.A Board and on the Dairy Advisory Committee for Virginia Farm Bureau. He is a lifetime member of Rich Patch United Methodist Church. Mr. Bennett has been a Farm Credit director since 2003.
James F. Kinsey, 34, of Flemington, WV is owner/manager of Kinsey’s Oak Front Farms which is a 200 head seed stock Angus Farm. Prior to farming full time, Mr. Kinsey was a livestock specialist for the WV Department of Agriculture and was an Executive Director for the WV Farm Bureau.
Donna Brooke-Alt (incumbent), 48, of Keyser, WV owns and operates Brookedale Farms, LLC, a greenhouse/agritainment/vegetable produce operation with her husband Donnie. Currently, she is serving as President of the operation. She has been president and a partner with her brother Bill in Brookedale Holsteins Inc., a 100 head dairy operation since 1986. Because of her love for agriculture, she takes every opportunity to educate the public about farming. In the months of September and October, Brookedale Farms has daily tours to show school kids the importance of agriculture. Ms. Brooke-Alt is very active in the community serving as an advisor on the Potomac State College Agricultural Advisory Board, a director of the Mineral County Farmland Protection Board, a director for the Mineral County Farm Bureau Board and also for the Mineral County Family Resource Network Board. She is a member of the Mineral County Farm Service Agency Committee, Master Gardner Organization and Mineral County Farmers Market Association. She is also the treasurer of the Mineral County Youth Livestock Board. Ms. Brooke-Alt has always been involved with 4-H/FFA on the county and state levels, but looks forward to being even more involved now that her oldest son is an FFA member. The Brooke-Alts are longtime members of Trinity United Methodist Church where Ms. Brooke-Alt has served as chairman on the Pastor Parish Relationship Committee. She is currently serving on the Audit Committee for Farm Credit of the Virginias. Donna has also served as a Chairman of the Communication Advocacy Program Committee and Chairman of the District Advisory Committee, which connects our farmers and Farm Credit of the Virginias needs with our legislators in Washington, DC as well as in our states. She was on the planning committee for an FCC Leadership Institute Seminar for Farm Credit Directors. S. Brooke-Alt has been a Farm Credit director since 2003.
Members elected to the 2014 Nominating Committee are: Phillip W. Goodwin, Jr., Wayne Todd Harris, Gary L. Dutton, John V. Morgan, Jr., Stacy A. Call and James H. Durham.
Farm Credit of the Virginias provides more than $1.5 billion in financing to rural homeowners, farmers and landowners in 96 counties in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. The Farm Credit mission is to provide a reliable source of credit for American Agriculture by making loans to qualified borrowers at competitive rates and providing insurance and related services. Please visit our website for more information on how we can assist you and meet your needs. http://www.farmcreditofvirginias.com
By Jennifer Armbruster
Farm Credit is also proud to join with industry partners who support our returning military veterans including the Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC). FVC serves military veterans of all eras and branches, although a majority of its veterans are from the most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. FVC helps mobilize returning veterans to start careers in food and farming through education, employment resources and small grants. Here are several FVC programs Farm Credit partners on:
- Homegrown By Heroes: Today, FVC, along with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA), announced a $250,000 commitment from Farm Credit to launch a nationwide Homegrown By Heroes (HBH) program to boost the marketing efforts of U.S. farmer veterans’ agriculture products. Over the next two years, HBH will be expanded to reach farmers, ranchers and consumers in all 50 states, allowing former servicemen and women who have chosen a career in agriculture to add the HBH logo to their products’ packaging and signage. The label identifies products from businesses owned by veterans, allowing consumers to choose to actively support military veterans through their buying decisions.
- Empowering Women Veterans Conference 2013: Farm Credit is a proud sponsor of the Farmer Veteran Coalition’s Women Veterans Conference which will be held in Louisville, Ky., Nov. 14-17. The event will focus on equipping women veterans with the business and farming tools they need to begin and achieve their entrepreneurial goals.
By Christina Bowen
Thousands of people stopped by to show their support for local foods and farms, and helped in the fight against hunger in South Georgia at the inaugural Harvest Festival, which featured live bluegrass music from Blue Holler, daily silent auctions, peach pie eating contests with pies from the Corner Cakery, cornhole and more. Check out our Facebook album for photos of the event.
Farm Credit would like to thank Second Harvest of South Georgia and the generous donors whose support made the Local Foods Gift Basket Auctions possible, including:
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013/National FFA Organization) – Students from Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Iowa, West Virginia and Oregon have been elected by delegates from throughout the U.S. to serve on the 2013-14 National FFA Officer team.
Brian Walsh of Virginia, an agribusiness major at Virginia Tech, was elected president. Mitch Baker of Tennessee, an agricultural communications major at University of Tennessee, will serve as secretary.
Steven Brockshus of Iowa, an agricultural education and global resource systems major at Iowa State University, was elected Central Region vice president and Jackson Harris of Alabama, a community development major at the University of Alabama, will serve as Southern Region vice president.
Wes Davis of West Virginia, an agribusiness management and rural development major at West Virginia University, was elected Eastern Region vice president and Jason Wetzler of Oregon, an agricultural leadership major at Oklahoma State University, will serve as Western Region vice president.
Each year at the National FFA Convention & Expo, six students are elected by delegates to represent the organization as National FFA officers. Delegates elect a president, secretary and vice presidents representing the central, southern, eastern and western regions of the country.
National officers commit to a year of service to the National FFA Organization. Each travels more than 100,000 national and international miles to interact with business and industry leaders, thousands of FFA members and teachers, corporate sponsors, government and education officials, state FFA leaders, the general public and more. The team will lead personal growth and leadership training seminars for FFA members throughout the country and help set policies that will guide the future of FFA and promote agricultural literacy.
“For this new national officer team, it will be a year of hard work, long hours, lots of travel and major advocacy for FFA and agricultural education,” said 2012-13 National FFA President Clay Sapp, who delivered his retiring address today before the new team was named. “It is a year of profound experiences that will change their lives and thousands of lives their service will touch.”
The National FFA Organization provides leadership, personal growth and career success training through agricultural education to 579,678 student members in grades seven through 12 who belong to one of 7,570 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Starting at dusk tomorrow, 41.1 million children across the U.S. will dress up in costumes and knock on their neighbors’ doors asking for treats. Whether you find Cinderella or Superman at your door, you’re likely to be handing over some candy – 74 percent of us are planning to support the seasonal sweet craving this year, doling out chocolate, candy corn and other confections to the ghouls and goblins on our doorsteps.
The main ingredient in all this Halloween candy is sugar, a product that comes from two different groups of U.S. farmers: sugar beet growers in the north and sugar cane growers in the south.
Richard Benzel and his brothers produce 18,000 tons of sugar beets a year on their third generation Montana farm, a crop that yields just over 3,000 tons of sugar. Much of a sugar beet is water, and once the sugar has been removed and the water pressed out, the remaining plant material is used as cattle feed.
Down in Louisiana, Charles Landry and his brothers also work together on their family operation to raise 2,400 acres of sugar cane. Their hundred-day harvest season is filled with long days as they work with their employees to cut and gather the cane before the first frost and deliver it fresh to the sugar mill.
Sugar cane harvesting is time sensitive because the cane needs to be processed within 24 hours of harvest, so growers work in close coordination with sugar mills like the Louisiana Sugar Cane Cooperative. LaSuCa carefully schedules deliveries from all of its grower-members so that each delivers freshly harvested cane every day, giving each an equal opportunity to provide optimal, sugar-rich cane.
Though the crops are different, the sugar from sugar beets and sugar cane is the same, and together these two groups of farmers produce 8.1 million tons of sugar a year.
This Halloween, whether you’re reaching into the bowl of leftovers or diving into your child’s haul – a practice admitted by 81 percent of parents – take a moment to appreciate the hard work and dedication of our sugar beet and sugar cane farmers.
Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Matt Lohr accepts position with Farm Credit of the Virginias
Farm Credit of the Virginias, headquartered in Staunton, Virginia announced today that Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Matt Lohr will be joining the organization on December 16, 2013 to work with Kyley Clevenger to develop the Farm Credit Knowledge Center. CEO, Dave Lawrence shared, “ The FCV team welcomes Matt and believes he will increase the value the Knowledge Center provides to all of our customers”.
Matt is well known across the state and has strong roots in Rockingham County having been born and raised on a Century Farm there. He was a State FFA President and National FFA Vice President and graduated from Virginia Tech in 1995. He chaired the Rockingham County Planning Commission and School Board and represented the 26th House District in the Virginia State Legislature from 2005-2010. He then served as the Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services from 2010-2013. He was awarded the American Farm Bureau Excellence in Agriculture Award and still co-owns Valley Pike Farm, Inc. producing poultry, beef, row crops and sweet corn. He has two children, Caroline 12 and Carson 8.
Matt will be responsible for developing and leading the success of the Farm Credit Knowledge Center as its director. The Knowledge Center’s mission is to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and resources for the betterment of all farmers through customer-focused programs that increase and advance the knowledge base of the agricultural community. Matt’s experiences and expertise at building relationships with key constituencies will help move the Knowledge Center to quickly become a valuable resource for young, beginning, small, minority and veteran farmers as well as the established full time producers. “For the last eight years I have been very blessed to work in state government as an advocate for Virginia’s number one industry. I am very excited to join the team at Farm Credit of the Virginias where I can continue my passion for serving agriculture. I have been a customer of Farm Credit for nearly 20 years and have experienced first-hand the tremendous level of service that they provide. It will be an honor to help continue a long standing tradition of meeting the needs of the agricultural community”, says Lohr.
Farm Credit of the Virginias provides over a billion dollars in financing to more than 9,000 farmers, agribusinesses and rural homeowners throughout Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. Farm Credit is a cooperative capitalized largely through investments made by farmers, ranchers and the rural 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 and expert financial services. For more information, visit http://www.farmcreditofvirginias.com.
The National Beef Ambassador Program is a youth leadership program focused on educating consumers about beef and beef production. Beef Ambassadors share personal experiences, product samples and information about beef nutrition, recipes, preparation, animal welfare, environment and other important topics. Additionally, five young adults are chosen to represent the National Beef Ambassador Team to educate consumers at national events and through the media. The 2014 team was chosen in Springdale, Ark. at the National Beef Ambassador Contest last month. In this guest blog post, Katie Stroud, a 2013 national team member, recaps her time as a Beef Ambassador.
As you can imagine, this past year has flown by for the 2013 National Beef Ambassador Team. We have had the greatest time traveling from coast to coast bridging the gap between consumers and producers. When asked to recap everything I have learned this year I didn’t even know where to start, luckily I had my teammates to turn to!
Our term was filled with influential, and at times challenging moments, such as the Boston Marathon. At this event, Chandler Mulvaney, Erin Morrison and I jumped right into the world of nutrition and how it applies to running. We soon found that just like beef producers, runners are a community as well. We were saddened by the tragic event during the marathon since we had developed such a heart for the running community. This brought our team closer together as well and we were very excited to be reunited in Washington D.C. for the NCBA Legislative Conference.
The New York State Fair was a memorable event this past August. When reflecting on the trip, Erin said, “We were able to spend six hours a day doing cooking demonstrations and use that time to really share our personal stories and provide advice to ensure everyone has a great experience eating beef.” How neat is that? Even though the days were long and hard it’s nice to know that connections were made with New York consumers and that made the trip fun!
Being a member of the National Beef Ambassador Team is more than just taking fun trips and talking to event-goers about beef; it’s about pride, commitment and hard work. First, is being proud of the beef community and their pledge to continuously improve their practices. We have come a long way through the years and it shows! For example, did you know that America’s beef producers have reduced their carbon footprint by 16 percent? Second, is staying committed to advocating for beef by always thirsting for knowledge. There is always something new to be learned whether it be USDA protocols or consumer trends. Making sure you stay up-to-date on new information is a must. This leads us right to our third point of hard work. Advocating through social media, flying across the country, having in-depth conversations, all of this takes work! I know all of our Beef Ambassadors possess these traits and that is why we are so successful at telling our beef story.
It has been such an honor to serve the beef community this past year and give back to the industry that has given so much to us.