Once upon a time there were Federal Land Bank Offices and Production Credit Association offices scattered in almost every county seat town in Indiana. Today there are Farm Credit Services of Mid-America offices, and you can apply for loans for land or production inputs at the same place. That's not news. But what is new is Farm Credit Services offer to help young and beginning farmers get the education they need in a timely manner.
Randy Barbee, communications director for Farm Credit Services of Mid-America, says the co-op just introduced a program that reimburses educational expenses incurred when young or beginning farm customers attend and complete business, production, financial management or ag leadership programs. The hope is that the information they learn will help them make better, more informed decisions in their farming operations at home.
Farm Credit Services of Mid-America serves customers in Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky. This new program is for people under the age of 35 or who have been farming less than 10 years, Barbee notes.
"We believe investing in our customer's ongoing development, particularly those who are young or new to farming," says Tom Schlenker, executive vice president in Farm Credit's Louisville office.
Even though the program is relatively new, some customers have already taken advantage of the opportunity, Barbee says. Recently, Farm Credit Services of Mid-America helped finance an opportunity for eight young farm customers to attend a National Young Farmer Education program in Mobile, Alabama. Part of the benefit is in learning and sharpening older skills at meetings, Barbee says. The other part is in allowing young farmers to visit and share ideas with other young farmers from various parts of the country.
The new education grant program isn't the only way Farm Credit Services attempts to support younger members. Farm Credit also offers programs for young and beginning farmers that include reimbursement of Farm Service Agency loan fees, and modification of loan underwriting conditions. Farm Credit also works with small operators or even part-time farmers to help them invest in diversified businesses within the rural community.
If you have questions about the new education program Farm Credit is hoping to get off the ground, check out the FCS Website at: www.e-farmcredit.com. Or from anywhere in the country, you can reach your local office by calling 1-800-444-FARM.