The Farm Credit System celebrated its 95th anniversary last month with a party at its new AgriBank office in St. Paul.
To mark the occasion, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman also issued a proclamation declaring April 19, 2012 as "Farm Credit Day."
The celebration honored the contributions of farmers across the state of Minnesota and the balance of the 15 states in the AgriBank District. Representatives from state and local government, as well as Minnesota agribusinesses, attended.
"Agriculture and the food industry represent a bright spot in America's economy and we are very proud of the deep roots that AgriBank and Farm Credit has in the state of Minnesota," said Bill York, AgriBank CEO. "Agriculture is vitally important to the state's economy. Nearly 15% of all jobs are based in the agriculture and/or food production industries. Agriculture also ranks as the second largest export sector and contributes to almost 20% of our state's total exports. Farm Credit is honored to help finance this industry."
Specifically in Minnesota, the number of customers served totals 30,120. Other Agri-Bank state data includes the following:
• Average daily balance of loans: $4.1 billion
• Average daily balance of total assets: $4.7 billion
• Cash patronage paid: $15.6 million
• Association employees in Minnesota: 770
• Branch offices in Minnesota: 30
• Associations serving Minnesota farmers: AgCountry Farm Credit Services, AgStar Financial Services, United FCS
• According the 2007 census, 52.9% of the state is farmland and of that, 81% of it is cropland.
• In 2010, there were 81,000 farms in the state of Minnesota
Speakers for the celebratory event included Jim Boerboom, Minnesota Department of Ag deputy commissioner; Paul DeBriyn, AgStar president and Chief Executive Officer; Dick Davidson, AgriBank Board Chair, from Ohio; and Matt Kramer, St. Paul Chamber of Commerce president. Kramer presented the mayor's proclamation to York.
Looking ahead, DeBriyn offered some comments on challenges facing the next generation of farmers. They include:
• Having access to instantaneous market information from around the world.
• Knowing how to manage volatility and using risk management skills and practices.
• Staying informed about the global economy.
• Knowing how your farm environmentally impacts your region and state. Be aware of additional conservation practices.
A three-generation Minnesota farm family also was recognized for their dedication to farming, representing thousands of similar farmers across the state and over the decades. Jim and Sue Vermilya and son Steve, from Dover, were chosen to receive this special award that acknowledged their efforts for "Feeding a Hungry World."
The Vermilya family, now seeing its third generation starting to farm, has relied on the farm lender since 1958 when Jim's dad received, at the time, a Federal Land Bank loan. Jim recalls those early loans in the 4% to 6% range, and how the family has relied on loan officers from Production Credit and then AgStar.
Their current loan officer, Mike Christenson form Rochester, gets high marks from the couple.
"If we call, he comes out to see us," Sue says. They appreciate the extra customer service, too, such as lunches delivered to the fields and farm in the fall.
AgriBank, FCB is one of the largest banks within the national Farm Credit System, with more than $73 billion in total assets. In 2011, the lender posted its second highest level of net earnings of $464.9 million, trailing the record 2010 net income of $580.9 million.
As agriculture's borrower-owned financial leader, AgriBank complements the market focus of affiliated Associations to serve rural America in a District that stretches from Ohio to Wyoming and from Minnesota to Arkansas, representing nearly 40% of farmland and over 54% of cropland in the United States.