During this season of giving, stewardship — a longtime focus of Farm Credit East — is top of mind. The financial cooperative understands the success of its customers is dependent on not only their business skills and growing practices, but also on the knowledge and development they receive from industry organizations as well as the support of the rural communities in which they operate. As part of Farm Credit East’s stewardship strategy, it has established a number of programs over the years to contribute to industry support organizations and the communities where our customers and staff live. In 2021, multiple Farm Credit East stewardship programs focused on industry development and community support celebrated milestones.
The Farm Credit Northeast AgEnhancement Grant Program: 25 years
A partnership between Farm Credit East, Yankee Farm Credit and CoBank, the Farm Credit Northeast AgEnhancement Grant program was established 25 years ago to support projects that promote and enhance the region’s agricultural community. The program provides project-specific grants ranging from $500 to $10,000 to help organizations promote awareness and strengthen agriculture, commercial fishing and forest products in the six New England states, New York and New Jersey.
Projects range from those promoting youth education and leadership development, to industry recognition programs, consumer education, economic analysis projects, and programs that promote economic viability as well as diversity, equity and inclusion in agriculture.
Since its inception in 1996, the Farm Credit Northeast AgEnhancement Program has awarded $2.8 million in grant funding to more than 1,000 projects and organizations across the Northeast.
Click here to learn more about the Farm Credit Northeast AgEnhancement Grant Program.
FarmStart: 15 years
Farm Credit East has long believed the long-term strength and soundness of the Northeast agricultural community is dependent on new entrants into the industry. That’s why, 15 years ago, Farm Credit East created a program to assist startup farmers in obtaining working capital and learning sound business management skills — some of the greatest barriers to entering the industry.
Today, the FarmStart program is a joint initiative of Farm Credit East, Yankee Farm Credit and CoBank. It provides working capital investments of up to $75,000 to northeast agricultural, fishing and forest products ventures showing promise of success. The innovative program targets startup farmers and ag businesses with limited financial resources and who are not generally eligible for conventional lending programs. In addition to the financial investment, a FarmStart advisor works with each participant to help the new business stay on track toward achieving business objectives.
Since the first investment approved in August 2006, FarmStart has invested over $15 million in more than 300 entrepreneurial startups across the Northeast.
Click here to learn more about FarmStart.
Farm Credit East Cares: 10 years
Apart from the significant contributions Farm Credit East Cares has made to local communities over the last 10 years, one of the most notable attributes of the program is that it was employee initiated.
During the fall of 2011, the Northeast farm community was hit hard by tropical storms Irene and Lee. At the time, there was nothing in place to provide assistance to agricultural producers and rural communities impacted by natural disasters — and a number of staff spoke up.
Farm Credit East and CoBank each committed $100,000 as initial seed funding for Farm Credit East Cares. In its first year, the program donated $143,500 to farm families impacted by the Irene and Lee disasters and to organizations providing assistance to those impacted by the disasters.
Since that time, Farm Credit East Cares has continued through the generous contributions of Farm Credit East employees, matched by the association thanks to the support of the Farm Credit East board of directors. At the end of each year, barring no natural disasters or
other events, those employees who contributed, select the local organization to receive funds.
In 2020, Farm Credit East Cares made special COVID-19 donations to support rural community relief efforts in the amount of $144,000. Since the program’s 2011 inception, Farm Credit East Cares has contributed more than $854,000 to various Northeast charities and
disaster relief efforts.
Click here to learn more about Farm Credit East Cares along with other Farm Credit East stewardship efforts.
Long-term Commitment to Rural Communities
Stewardship is truly part of Farm Credit East’s organizational DNA. Whether it’s serving our customers and the industries in which they operate or contributing to the communities where our customers and staff live, the entire Farm Credit East team is committed to giving back.
As the organization plans for the year ahead, it aims to increase its stewardship efforts, especially as it relates to environmental stewardship and diversity, equity and inclusion. We look forward to sharing more stories about the organizations we support and the positive impact they have on their surrounding rural communities.