CEO'S LETTER - The Future of Rural America Is in Good Hands

CEO, Doug Thiessen

The next time you hear someone criticize today’s youth, invite them to your local junior livestock show. Stock show season will soon be here, and there is no better time or place to see rural America’s future leaders in action.

Every animal represents months of hard physical work and time invested by a young person in the show ring. While developing an appreciation for agriculture, that same youngster or teenager has gained self-confidence and learned about sacrifice, perseverance and responsibility — the building blocks of character.

Alabama Ag Credit is proud to support rural youth. This winter, we’ll be at the stock shows, cheering on our young neighbors, purchasing sale animals and presenting awards. In addition, we’re supporting our future production agriculturalists by serving, along with Alabama Farm Credit, as the title sponsor of the annual Alabama FFA Convention. We know these young folks are the future of our industry. We’re committed to supporting our college-bound students as well. We presented a total of $5,000 to students pursuing degrees in agriculture and related fields and we intend to give even more this year.

As part of our mission, Alabama Ag Credit also supports young farmers and ranchers who have chosen careers in production agriculture. Every fall, we sponsor one young farmer or rancher to attend the Farm Credit Young Leaders Program in New York and Washington, D.C., to learn about the Farm Credit System and the legislative process. Along with Alabama Farm Credit, we also support the Alabama Farmers Federation’s Outstanding Young Farm Family each year by providing the grand prize of a John Deere Gator. Through our young, beginning and small (YBS) farmer loan program, we try to go the extra mile to help young and beginning producers obtain financing for their operations.

At year-end 2013, 17.6 percent of Alabama Ag Credit loans were to young farmers, defined as age 35 and under, while beginning farmers, those with 10 or fewer years of experience, accounted for 55.1 percent of all association loans.

More than 62 percent of U.S. farmers are age 55 or older. As these producers retire, new farmers will be needed to take their place. At Alabama Ag Credit, we are pleased to partner with FFA, 4-H, commodity groups and agribusiness organizations to help develop the next generation of farmers and ranchers — a generation with the leadership ability, technical skills, business knowledge and strong work ethic that are characteristic of those who work in agriculture.

Remember those benefits the next time you see a youngster leading a steer around the show ring at your county fair. It’s not just about the steer — it’s about young people and the future of agriculture.

See you at the show!

CEO signature

Douglas Thiessen
Chief Executive Officer