Hunter and Alexis Williams of Nolan, Texas, pictured with Stan Ray, recently saw firsthand how Farm Credit uses money raised on Wall Street to support agriculture and rural communities. The Williamses, member-borrowers of Lone Star Ag Credit, 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 Lone Star Ag Credit 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 Williamses discussed policy issues with Sen. John Cornyn, Rep. Jodey Arrington 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 Williamses first met while showing cutting horses in their youth. Hunter ranches full time, and Alexis is a certified public accountant in Abilene. Range management is a focus of their cow-calf operation in Nolan, where they have removed invasive trees, restored native grasses and increased their stocking rate with the help of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program.
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.