Farm Bureau Pres­i­dent Sees Value In Young Farmer/Rancher Pro­gram

Escalon Times - - NEWS -

Bring­ing new farm­ers and ranch­ers into agri­cul­ture and help­ing them suc­ceed is an im­por­tant pri­or­ity in Cal­i­for­nia and across the na­tion. As in many fields, the av­er­age age of farm­ers is ris­ing. In fact, the most re­cent U.S. Cen­sus of Agri­cul­ture showed that the av­er­age prin­ci­pal farm owner in 2012 was 58.3 years old, up from just 50.5 years in 1982.

That’s where the Cal­i­for­nia Farm Bureau Fed­er­a­tion Young Farm­ers and Ranch­ers pro­gram comes in. The pro­gram de­vel­ops lead­er­ship skills and net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple be­tween the ages of 18 and 35 in a wide range of agri­cul­tural-re­lated oc­cu­pa­tions.

And pro­vid­ing strong sup­port to the pro­gram is the Farm Credit Al­liance, con­sist­ing of Farm Credit as­so­ci­a­tions in Cal­i­for­nia and CoBank, a na­tional co­op­er­a­tive bank and mem­ber of the Farm Credit Sys­tem. Since 2008, Farm Credit has pro­vided $316,000 to help fund Young Farmer and Rancher con­fer­ences and events along with the CFBF An­nual Meet­ing.

A per­fect ex­am­ple of the pro­gram’s value is Jamie Jo­hans­son, who was elected Cal­i­for­nia Farm Bureau pres­i­dent in 2017. An olive grower and olive oil pro­ces­sor in Butte County, Jo­hans­son is a first-gen­er­a­tion farmer who said he owes his suc­cess in large part to the YFR pro­gram.

Jo­hans­son started Lodestar Farms in 1993 when his par­ents moved from Hum­boldt County to Oroville to build a home. The 20-acre par­cel had ma­ture olive trees from the area’s past as a prime olive-grow­ing re­gion, and so Jo­hann­son said, “Let’s give farm­ing a shot.”

“I needed a men­tor­ship op­por­tu­nity, and through YFR I met other peo­ple and was able to get advice from my peers,” Jo­hans­son said. “It helped me re­al­ize there was a place in agri­cul­ture for ev­ery­one and it’s a great way to cre­ate more farm­ing fam­i­lies.”

In the years since be­com­ing a farmer, he has helped lead the re­birth of Cal­i­for­nia’s olive oil in­dus­try and now farms 80 acres to pro­duce award-win­ning oils.

Leili Ghazi, pres­i­dent of CoBank’s Western Re­gion Agribusi­ness Bank­ing Group, said Jo­hans­son’s story demon­strates how im­por­tant the YFR pro­gram is and why Farm Credit has sup­ported it so strongly.

“Help­ing to en­cour­age and nur­ture new gen­er­a­tions of farm­ers and ranch­ers is an im­por­tant pri­or­ity for Farm Credit. Cal­i­for­nia helps feed the na­tion and in­deed the world, and it’s vi­tal that we keep our farms op­er­at­ing and pros­per­ous for decades to come,” Ghazi said. “The in­for­ma­tion that younger farm­ers learn at the An­nual Meet­ing, the YFR Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence, and their Dis­cus­sion Meet con­tests is in­valu­able, and Farm Credit is pleased to play an im­por­tant role in keep­ing th­ese events hap­pen­ing.”

Jo­hans­son ex­plained that a Dis­cus­sion Meet is not struc­tured as a de­bate, but rather as farm­ers talk­ing with each other at a cof­fee shop. By learn­ing to hear oth­ers’ per­spec­tives and dis­cuss im­por­tant top­ics with an open mind, the com­pe­ti­tions build lead­er­ship skills and mold farm­ers into bet­ter spokes­peo­ple for agri­cul­ture.

Amer­i­can Ag Credit, Farm Credit West, CoBank, Fresno-Madera Farm Credit, Golden State Farm Credit, Co­lusa-Glenn Farm Credit and Yosemite Farm Credit are co­op­er­a­tively owned lend­ing in­sti­tu­tions pro­vid­ing agri­cul­ture and ru­ral Amer­ica with a de­pend­able source of credit. They spe­cial­ize in fi­nanc­ing farm­ers, ranch­ers, farmer-owned co­op­er­a­tives, ru­ral util­i­ties and agribusi­nesses.

Farm Credit of­fers a broad range of loan prod­ucts and fi­nan­cial ser­vices, in­clud­ing long-term real es­tate loans, op­er­at­ing lines of credit, equip­ment and fa­cil­ity loans, cash man­age­ment and ap­praisal and leas­ing ser­vices. For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.farm­cred­i­tal­liance.com.

The Cal­i­for­nia Farm Bureau Fed­er­a­tion works to pro­tect fam­ily farms and ranches on be­half of nearly 40,000 mem­bers statewide and as part of a na­tion­wide net­work of more than 5.5 mil­lion Farm Bureau mem­bers.

PHOTO CON­TRIB­UTED

A first-gen­er­a­tion farmer, Jamie Jo­hans­son was elected Cal­i­for­nia Farm Bureau pres­i­dent in 2017 and said he owes his suc­cess in the agri­cul­ture busi­ness in large part to the Bureau’s Young Farm­ers and Ranch­ers pro­gram.

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