Zach and Melanie Antley of Downsville, La., recently saw firsthand how Farm Credit uses money raised on Wall Street to support agriculture and rural communities. The Antleys, member-borrowers of Southern AgCredit, were among 27 agricultural producers who were selected for the 2018 Farm Credit Young Leaders Program in New York City and Washington, D.C.
The 13th annual program began with visits to a Wall Street brokerage firm and the Federal Farm Credit Banks Funding Corporation. There the group learned how investors’ purchase of highly rated Farm Credit notes and bonds provides steady funding that local lending cooperatives like Southern AgCredit put to work in rural communities. Together, Farm Credit’s customer-owned co-ops provide more than $261 billion in financing to farmers, ranchers, rural homeowners, agribusinesses and other eligible borrowers nationwide.
Next the group traveled to the nation’s capital to exchange ideas with public officials. While on Capitol Hill, the Antleys discussed policy issues with Rep. Ralph Abraham and congressional staff. That same day, the Senate passed its version of the farm bill, setting the stage for a compromise bill of this vital agricultural and food legislation.
At the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Business–Cooperative Service Administrator Bette Brand and others talked with the group about USDA programs tailored for young ag producers.
The five-day program ended with a visit to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s innovative farming and milling operation. “This annual program is one of the ways we support young and beginning agricultural producers,” said Stan Ray, president of the Tenth District Farm Credit Council, which hosts the Young Leaders Program. “Participants are chosen by their local lending cooperatives, and come home with a new appreciation of the role Farm Credit plays in agriculture and rural communities across the country.”
The Antleys bring mechanical and financial knowledge to their north Louisiana poultry operation. Zach, an applications engineer, and Melanie, a former loan assistant for a community bank, became Southern AgCredit members when they purchased an eight-house broiler farm in late 2016. They then retrofitted the facilities, improving productivity and earning accolades from their poultry integrator. Melanie now works at their Downsville, La., farm full time. The couple has two children.
The Tenth District Farm Credit Council is the regional member of the national Farm Credit Council, the trade association that works on behalf of Farm Credit cooperatives and their member-owners.