Trade associate member update – Farm Credit: On the threshold of a century of serving America’s farmers

From mules to GPS, American agriculture has seen countless changes in the last century. Farm Credit’s Florida locations have served agriculture for many of those years.

The Farm Credit System is a nationwide network of borrower-owned lending institutions and specialized service organizations established by Congress in 1916 as a reliable source of credit for the nation’s farmers and ranchers.

Today, Farm Credit provides more than a third of the credit needed by rural America. Borrowers include full- and part-time farmers, homeowners and qualifying businesses.

Farm Credit also offers crop insurance and other products and services, including a new offering called Farm Credit Express, a point-of-sale equipment financing program now available at many local equipment dealerships. Visit www.FarmCreditExpress.com for a list of participating dealerships.

People have been watching

Farm Credit's Ron O'Connor was honored recently by an agricultural fraternal organization.

Ron O’Connor, Farm Credit of Central Florida’s director of marketing and government affairs, last month was named a National Friend of Extension by agricultural fraternal organization Epsilon Sigma Phi’s Alpha Delta chapter. Each year, ESP recognizes up to four volunteers from across the country – business leaders, volunteers or public servants – who go above and beyond in their assistance to extension professionals. Extension is the national system of delivering research-based programs and information to the people from land-grant universities.

“I accepted that on behalf of all three Florida Farm Credit organizations, because whatever we’re able to do, it’s because of our member borrowers,” O’Connor said. “The resiliency that farmers and ranchers have makes Farm Credit possible. We work with all the extension offices, and it’s a very mutually beneficial relationship. They offer premier programs with outstanding speakers, on topics of interest to farmers, ranchers and rural homeowners of Florida.”

O’Connor is deeply involved in multiple agricultural institutes and boards. He serves as a board member and primary photographer for the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame, is a member of and past president of The Florida Agriculture Institute, and is a member of and past vice president of the Florida Citrus Showcase. Additionally he is a member of the Florida Council of Cooperatives, Florida Citrus Mutual, Florida Cattlemen’s Association, and Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association’s Allied Committee, and has received an honorary Future Farmers of America membership and degree.

O’Connor has been responsible for providing numerous sponsorships for extension and 4-H Youth activities during his more than 25 years with the Florida Farm Credit System. Those sponsorships provide cost and fee reductions for these educational programs.

Through O’Connor’s efforts, Farm Credit sponsors the annual Florida Association of County Agricultural Agents Young Professional Award. The agent recipients use these funds for local programming or for expanded professional development training. O’Connor was instrumental in securing a $20,000 sponsorship from the National Farm Credit Foundation for the 2012 National Association of Extension 4-H Agents’ conference held in Orlando to reduce the registration cost for extension agents.

O’Connor said he appreciates the partnership with Extension and that Farm Credit is proud to be able to provide financial assistance and sponsorship for events and meetings.

Looking toward the future

A big part of the organization’s 100-year anniversary is the “Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives” project.

“It’s a national search for future and current agricultural leaders and visionaries,” said Tory Boyd, marketing coordinator for Farm Credit of Central Florida. “You can nominate yourself or other people. You can even nominate groups. There are several different categories.”

A panel of experts on rural matters will evaluate and select the top 100 honorees. Ten of the honorees – one from each nomination category – will receive a $10,000 cash prize to help further their contributions to rural communities and to agriculture. Those 10 will be invited to Washington, D.C., to participate in a special Farm Credit recognition event next year. Nominations will be accepted at farmcredit100.com until Dec. 18. The top 100 honorees will be announced in March.

In addition to participating in Farm Credit Fresh Perspectives, the Florida offices are planning their own events. “We’ve started putting out the word,” O’Connor said. “Next year it will really come into focus. We’ve begun to do some things with our member borrowers and some of the trade associations we work with, including FFVA,” he said.

Learn more about Farm Credit’s programs and services here.

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