EVERY DAY IS EARTH DAY FOR FARMERS AND RANCHERS

Happy Earth Day! Founded in 1970 as a day of education about environmental issues, Earth Day is celebrated every year on April 22. But to some Americans, it is more than just a one day event. Farmers and ranchers throughout our nation put their time, energy and resources into nurturing sustainable commodities 365 days of the year. Farm Credit is proud to recognize the producers who place a priority on building profitable and sustainable farm operations. Join us all week long on The AGgregator as we honor these true stewards of our land.

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Most farmers and ranchers will say that it is imperative that they care for the land because it is what provides their livelihood as well as the food that sustains us all. But with fewer producers on less land needing to feed a growing population, it’s sometimes a challenge to find economical and operationally viable ways to improve long-term sustainability. Many Farm Credit customers, though, have done just that:

  • Shepherd’s Grain wheat growers are certified by the Food Alliance, a non-profit organization that promotes and certifies sustainable agricultural practices.
  • At Sangiocomo Vineyards, the family works to reduce the amount of inputs they need to grow high-quality grapes, including electrical usage and nutrient application in the soil.
  • Greenleaf Nursery’s water recycling program, comprehensive eco-friendly fertilization and insect control management processes have earned it environmental awards from the EPA, Sierra Club and Southern Nursery Associations.
  • At Homeland Creamery and Bowman Dairy, cows are pasture-raised and hormone-free, and the farm focuses on sustainability, employing no-till techniques to conserve land and water.
  • Nieman Enterprises is a voluntary participant in the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, harvesting trees for timber in a way that benefits the forest itself, reducing risk of fire and insect damage and removing trees to make room for newer, healthier growth.
  • Innovative farmer Mickey Diamond is working with his extension service to test how much crop residue to leave on the field – an approach that conserves water and reduces weeds and therefore herbicide requirements.
Categories: General Information

Farm Credit of the Virginias donates $25,000 to local food bank’s Farm Fresh Project

VIRGINIA –On Wednesday, April 8th a press conference was held at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank to share information about the food bank’s new program-The Farm Fresh Project. The Farm Fresh Project, which is a collaboration between the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, the Shenandoah Valley Produce Auction and Farm Credit of the Virginias, will help the food bank to focus on securing the majority of their fresh produce supply from local farmers and producers instead of relying on many out-of-state producers as they have done in the past.

 In order to help with the purchasing of local produce from farmers in the Shenandoah Valley and across Virginia, Farm Credit of the Virginias, a part of the Farm Credit system which is the nation’s largest agricultural lender, announced that they would be donating $25,000 to the program. This money, in combination with matching funds donated by the local community, will be used to purchase fresh produce from the Shenandoah Valley Produce Auction.  Dave Lawrence, CEO of Farm Credit of the Virginias presented the check to Michael McKee, Food Bank CEO Wednesday morning during the press conference.

“As a part of the agricultural community, we care deeply and we are always looking for an opportunity to help those in it, especially our neediest citizens,” said Matt Lohr, Director of the Knowledge Center with Farm Credit of the Virginias. “A number of citizens amongst us rely on assistance for basic necessities such as their food and we really want to be able to help, so to be able to assist in laying the ground work to help supply food products to these citizens is something we are proud to be a part of.”

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 www.FarmCreditKnowledgeCenter.com or www.FarmCreditofVirginias.com.

Categories: General Information

Farm Credit of the Virginias Announces $21 Million in Cash Patronage Dividends

Farm Credit of the Virginias, a customer-owned financial cooperative, announced Monday, they are paying just over $21 million in cash to their customers in the form of a patronage dividend.

As a cooperative, Farm Credit distributes a portion of its profits to their customers. Due to excellent earnings for 2014, the Board of Directors declared that in addition to the regular patronage dividend, which typically represents 12 percent of the amount of interest paid on loans in a given year, a second “special” patronage dividend would also be paid totaling another 12 percent, bringing the total patronage dividend to more than $21 million. The regular patronage dividend will be paid in April and the “special” patronage dividend will be paid in cash in June.

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“We are proud to be one of the few financial institutions that directly rewards its customer-owners for their loyalty and thank them for the business in a very tangible way. The patronage dividend program also helps reduce our customers’ effective cost of borrowing and returns money directly to the communities we serve. Our Board of Directors understand the critical role Farm Credit plays in sustaining our agricultural industry and our rural communities,” remarked Dave Lawrence, CEO of Farm Credit of the Virginias. Since 2001, Farm Credit of the Virginias has paid more than $183 million in patronage dividends to its customer-owners.

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 www.FarmCreditKnowledgeCenter.com or www.FarmCreditofVirginias.com.

Categories: General Information

Learn to write grants to support local foods with help from USDA, WVU and WVSU Extension Service

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Learn how to understand, develop, write and submit federal grant applications for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program. Sessions will take place in April at locations in Morgantown and Charleston.

On Saturday, April 11, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the North Session will take place on WVU’s Evansdale Campus at the Agricultural Sciences Building.

A second session, known as the South Session, will take place in Charleston at West Virginia State University’s Economic Development Center. The session takes place on Saturday April 18th from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Registration is available online at http://bit.ly/AgritourismRegistration. This is a free event, and materials and refreshments will be provided.

Both sessions will be simultaneously webcast (address will be sent to those registering for this option), but in-person attendance is strongly encouraged.

The sessions are offered as part of the Agricultural Marketing Service Technical Assistance Project. It is a collaboration of West Virginia University Extension Service and West Virginia State University Extension, the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture.

According to WVU Extension Agricultural Economist Dee Singh-Knights, the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program is a key to USDA’s efforts to revitalize rural economies by supporting local and regional food systems.

“The grant workshops ensure that more communities and businesses across the country can participate in the competitive grant process,” she said. “We teach you to write proposals that create real economic opportunities and help meet the growing demand for locally and regionally produced food.”

The workshops are coordinated by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Regional Rural Development Centers. Cooperative Extension educators provide similar training in all regions of the country.

The Agricultural Act of 2014, commonly referred to as the Farm Bill, authorizes $30 million annually through 2018, to provide competitive grants and to develop new market opportunities for farm and ranch operations serving local and regional markets.

“The impact of programs like this grant-writing workshop can be felt throughout the country,” WVSU Community and Economic Development Specialist Sarah Halstead noted. “We’re empowering famers and producers to find or improve their access to funding sources.”

These investments are part of USDA’s commitment to strengthening local and regional food systems through projects that recruit and train farmers, expand economic opportunities, and increase access to healthy foods.

USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative coordinates support for local and regional food systems. Projects aligned with these efforts can be found on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass. For more information on AMS visit www.ams.usda.gov, and for more on NIFA visit www.nifa.usda.gov.

For more information on the North Session, contact Singh-Knights at 304-293-7606 or dosingh-knights@mail.wvu.edu.

For information on the South Session, contact Halstead at 619-865-5132 or shalstead2@wvstateu.edu.

-WVU-

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CONTACT:

Dee Singh-Knights, WVU Extension Service

Dosingh-knights@mail.wvu.edu

304-293-7606

Categories: General Information

Farm Credit & Country Mortgages Welcomes Lavina Henderson to the Harrisonburg Processing Team

Lavina Henderson has joined Farm Credit & Country Mortgages’ Harrisonburg processing center as a Loan Assistant. Henderson is originally from Stuarts Draft and currently resides in Waynesboro, Virginia. She lived in Arizona for a short period of time before moving back to her home in the Shenandoah Valley. Lavina comes to Farm Credit with a variety of experiences in the industry and she looks forward to helping assist customers in their agricultural endeavors.

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 www.FarmCreditKnowledgeCenter.com or www.FarmCreditofVirginias.com.

Categories: General Information

Virginia 4-H Livestock Judging Team Earns National Title

Earlier this year, the Rockingham County 4-H Livestock Judging Team emerged victorious at the Western National Roundup competition held in Denver, earning the overall team title in this annual event.

Four members of the 12+ member team travelled to the Mile High City in January to compete:  Bailey Carpenter, 16; Hannah Craun, 16; Caley Ellington, 17; and MaKalyn Nesselrodt, 17. Together, they judged ten classes of animals, including beef cattle, hogs, sheep and meat goats, with their individual scores tallied to arrive at the team total that earned them the win. The Rockingham County team competed against 25 teams, representing 24 states and Canada.

Judging livestock requires extensive knowledge of different breeds and classes within each species, as well as keen observation skills to determine the best animals in a group. Articulate oral presentations of the rationale for their assessments of the animals they judge are also a critical component of the judging process. Learning how to judge takes years of practice: each of these four youngsters comes from a farming family, giving them a strong foundation of knowledge, and each has actively trained in livestock judging for between five and ten years.

“The best training comes from going to farms and practicing with various classes of animals,” says Farm Credit of the Virginias senior commercial credit analyst Dave Walker, who shares coaching duties with co-coach Tammy Craun. “To prepare for the Denver contest, we had practice once a week from late August until the contest in early January.” The team also competes in regional and state contests to gain experience, and in fact earned their place in the national competition by first winning the Virginia State Contest in June 2014.

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By winning the national contest, the Rockingham team has earned the opportunity to travel to Scotland and tour agricultural and historic sites of interest. They also have the option to compete in the Royal Highland Livestock Judging Contest as a team or individually; however, participating in this competition precludes competing in certain other U.S. contests, so only MaKalyn plans to join the international contest. Individual winners at the Western National Roundup can also earn money toward college expenses: both Caley and MaKalyn have $250 waiting for them if they pursue an animal science degree at Colorado State University, which hosted the Denver event.

Livestock judging competitions are about more than winning prizes, though: these young 4-H members are learning valuable life skills that will help them succeed in their future college endeavors and professional careers, including observation skills, decision making, public speaking and teamwork.

“I think the skills gained from competitive livestock judging help develop leaders in whatever career path participants chose to follow,” says Walker, who himself competed in livestock judging in his younger days with then-teammate Craun. “Just as an example, MaKalyn has already started classes to become a nurse and the observation, decision making and teamwork skills she’s developed through judging will certainly be useful in her nursing career.”

Walker cites another benefit of competing in livestock judging. “Travelling to distant contests forces these young people to learn how to manage their time and be focused on school responsibilities before and/or after they’re away for a competition,” he says. “Travel to other states, and if successful at national contests as the Rockingham team has been, to other countries, also provides life experiences that can enrich and broaden their viewpoints.”

Categories: General Information

Farm Credit & Country Mortgages Welcomes Magen Ayers to the Wytheville Team

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Magen Ayers has joined Farm Credit & Country Mortgages’ Wytheville office as a Loan Assistant. Ayers is originally from and currently resides in Wytheville, Virginia. She attended Wytheville Community College and Liberty University where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance. Magen is no stranger to the agriculture industry; she comes from a farming family where their operation consisted of cattle, swine, horses and orchards. Magen comes to Farm Credit with a variety of experiences in the agriculture industry and looks forward to helping assist customers in their agricultural endeavors.

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 www.FarmCreditKnowledgeCenter.com or www.FarmCreditofVirginias.com.

Categories: General Information
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