Christian. BoyMom. Farmer's Wife. Marathon Runner. Ag Professional. Bourbon Lover.
Advocate for all things agriculture and rural.
Advocate for all things agriculture and rural.
Tunis Sheep Hampshires heed
“I hope we can keep you all here.”
We had just wrapped up a team presentation to our Board of Directors. The comment came across as a compliment, so I smiled and politely responded that I love my work here.
On the drive home, and numerous times since that day, I found myself thinking about his comment. I’ve never worked anywhere else. Or at least a real “grown-up job” anywhere else.
Since I sat down at my first Farm Credit desk as a 21 year old intern, I’ve never left. The offers have been there. But I could list on a single hand the hours I’ve actually contemplated leaving.
Now I’ve moved around. Office to office, upstairs then downstairs, then back up again. I’ve transitioned roles and job titles, and my responsibilities and daily work today don’t resemble anything close to what they were years ago.
But I’ve never left.
And my story isn’t unique.
I used to think it was something special about my own Farm Credit cooperative. As an intern, I traveled the state, working alongside people who had been with the cooperative for 20, 30, and even 40 years. The man I replaced two years ago, when I moved into my current role, had been with the system for 41 years before retiring. FORTY-ONE YEARS! It was his only grown up job too. I am lucky to have several mentors here, all of whom have been with the system their entire adult lives.
But there’s another kind of employee here too. There’s the “born again” Farm Credit employees. These are the people who had other jobs, maybe for a few years, sometimes for half a career. But the first time they put on that Biostar– a symbol recognized country-wide for a source of reliable ag credit and devoted ag professionals- they never want to take it off.
As I’ve had the opportunity to travel and engage with other Farm Credit cooperatives around the county, I realized that this trend isn’t special to my own cooperative. Just like that biostar, it’s a recognizable Farm Credit “thing” country-wide!
For some reason, people come here. And they stay. For a long, long time. But why?
I think there are two reasons – agriculture and cooperatives.
There is no better story in American history than the story of agriculture. Our farmers, and the industry that supports them, have taken a task that used to involve every man, woman and child, and created a system where less than 2% of the population feeds 100%.
On top of that, they do it more efficiently, more sustainably, more affordably and safer than anywhere else in the world, and any other time in history. Farmers work relentlessly so the rest of us can do other things. Other important, vital things like protecting, teaching, healing, serving, inventing, exploring.
You might think that people running these million dollar businesses we call farms, that often work 80 or more hours every week, skipping vacations and holidays to keep on working, would be difficult to serve – arrogant and demanding.
But mostly, they are the exact opposite. There is nothing in the world like a farmer. The young ones are ambitious and driven, and not by dollars and cents, but by something that runs deep inside them, a desire to turn dirt, care for stock and feed people.
The old ones are calm and humbled by decades of dealing with the bad that inevitably comes along with the good.
These are faithful, driven, hardworking people. And a lot of them come with an odd sense of humor that probably develops after so many hours alone in the cab of a tractor.
Now they all expect hard-work, and follow through. And honesty is a given. They expect it, because it’s how they operate themselves. So it isn’t always easy working in agriculture, but anything worth doing usually isn’t.
Serving agricultural may act as the spark for the passion of Farm Credit team members, but the fuel to that passion is serving agriculture as a cooperative.
As defined by Merriam-Webster, a cooperative is, “an organization owned by and operated for the benefit of those using its services.” In short, our customers are our owners. And when that reality pervades our culture, it takes our job beyond a career, all the way to a purpose.
As a mentor often reminds me, “It’s a wonderful thing to not have to choose between doing what’s best for our stock holders and doing what’s best for our customers. We can always do what’s best for both – because they are the same people.”
That idea isn’t just something that’s written in a brochure, or typed on a website. That idea has been intentionally crafted into the Farm Credit culture so that it permeates through this place from the top down and the bottom up.
It’s a culture of serving – serving our customers and serving our fellow employees. It’s a culture where we cry with our members who are struggling and we celebrate with members who are succeeding. It’s a culture where we talk in teams and leaders instead of coworkers and bosses. It’s a culture where we are invested in each other. In our customers. And in agriculture.
So what I should have told that Director, is that it won’t be hard to keep us here. As long as we continue to do what we do, to serve agriculture in good times and in bad, to remember our purpose as a cooperative, I will proudly put on that biostar. And l'm betting my teammates will as well.
When I say goodbye to Farm Credit, I have a feeling it will be in a similar fashion as my predecessor - after a forty year career of serving one of the greatest industries in this country.
5/4/2017 07:37:13 am
I just started working for Farm Credit last August and what you wrote above is the exact reason why I wanted to work for this company; for the farmer. I believe everyone needs to have a chance to make their dreams come true, and if I can play even the tiniest role in make their dreams a reality, well I'd say that's all the proof I need to know I'm at the right job
5/4/2017 07:38:09 am
I love your comment!! Thank you so much for visiting!! Do you mind sharing which association your which or what part of the country?
5/4/2017 07:40:37 am
Farm Credit East in Hornell, NY
5/4/2017 08:29:41 am
So many good people at Farm Credit East!! Thanks for visiting!!
5/6/2017 03:58:09 am
I worked in the hornell office for 10 years! Loved working there. The customers are great. You'll love them.
What a wonderful way to start my morning (at Farm Credit!) You have put into words what so many of us feel every day.
5/4/2017 08:29:01 am
Sandy that is such an amazing story!!! I love it! You're right, it was a small thing but captures our FC culture so well. Thank you son much for visiting and commenting!! I follow your association on social media and you all do an outstanding job!!!
5/4/2017 09:51:31 am
As of May 1, 2017, I retired with 39 years of service. My entire professional career has been with Farm Credit. A great place to work with a great purpose.
5/4/2017 10:03:41 am
Alan that is so awesome!!! Thanks for stopping by!
5/4/2017 11:07:13 am
When my dad Bob Brown left Farm credit after almost 45 years it was like we lost family but he still keeps close contact. He truIey cared so very much for all clients and employees and felt as though they were family. I grew up with all of them answered the home phone as " bob brown's office" as a little girl in San Angelo when he was a loan officer and when he became executive VP of farm credit systems we moved to Austin. The people in this institution are the kindest most down to earth you will ever meet. Glad I was a part of it!
5/4/2017 11:11:47 am
What awesome memories Allison! Thanks for sharing!!!
5/4/2017 11:47:14 am
5/4/2017 01:30:55 pm
Thanks for telling me that!! It's so fun to see all the Farm Credit family that can relate to this!!! Which association are you with, if you don't mind??
5/4/2017 01:27:57 pm
I worked for FC for 34 years. I worked for AgSouth Farm Credit. I still have contact with some of my customers and they are like family.
5/4/2017 01:31:51 pm
Thanks for visiting Veronica and sharing your thoughts!!
5/4/2017 01:35:18 pm
Thank you for sharing! As a customer of FCSA, I know exactly what your comments reflect. We (my husband and I) love what we do....farm and feed cattle; which ultimately helps every American enjoy their lifestyle. We firmly believe we are raising our three children in the best part of the US--rural Nebraska. We teach them hard work, work ethic and respect for the Earth. We hope to pass on the family business when the time is right to our children. We are thankful for FCSA and their support to help us do what we love!
5/4/2017 07:41:15 pm
So eloquently said. When I read this I felt like my own heart was pouring out how I feel about Farm Credit. I retired from MidAtlantic Farm Credit after nearly 40 years of service at the end of 2015 and there is hardly a day that goes by without me thinking about or talking to my former coworkers, customers and other system leaders. Just today I was (in a new role as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture in DE) looking at contributors to our Ag leadership program in the state and guess who helped start the program and is a top funder?!You guessed it, Farm Credit! Also today, Farm Credit staff was out on a farm with poultry company reps,NRCS, DDA and others to help find more affordable solutions to manure storage structures. The list goes on and on. Always giving back, always focused on their customers way beyond making a loan. The story of Farm Credit is such a good one and many tell it. Those who try to distort the story do so out of self interest. Is it always perfect? No. Are the motives pure and the intent centered on what is best for the member? Yes. In my entire career I could count the number of bad days at work on one hand and honestly I would have to think hard about that. That does not mean that there were not tough times. Bad things happen to good people but it is very rewarding to help people make decisions to recover from problems or make other wise choices to resolve an issue. Likewise, how rewarding is it to find a way to get a new producer financed when you know they will be good managers and they have a sound business plan but are short on equity and collateral? It just doesn't get any better! I love my new job as Deputy Secretary and I get to work with lots of fine people who love agriculture, including many people who were former competitors but always friends or at a minimum professional acquaintances. Farm Credit put a love of Agriculture in me that will never go away and for that I owe them an eternal debt of gratitude. It was an honor to work there and it does my heart good to see them carrying on the fine traditions of the past 100 years but always with an eye to the future.
5/4/2017 08:43:07 pm
Secretary Bounds thank you so much for visiting and sharing your story!! Your new role is an awesome testament to your time with Farm Credit - I hope to hear more about it sometime!!
5/4/2017 07:41:37 pm
Just retired with 39 years of service. Loved my customers, my fellow employees and most all loved my job. It's like a large farm credit family and we all help each other. May God continue to bless this wonderful cooperative.
5/4/2017 08:43:34 pm
That's amazing Susan!! Thanks for sharing your story!
5/5/2017 12:04:16 pm
13 years with Farm Credit and love it. But there is the other side of things where it's not all pixie dust and unicorns. With system consolidation the good old days of having 40 year career with pension working an entire career in one office and maintaining roots in one community is nearly gone. Through mergers I've chosen to stay with Farm Credit but that has involved 3 moves across state lines, multiple sales of homes and uprooting my young family from community to community from school to school. Lately we feel more like a military family. I chose to stick with Farm Credit accepting the difficulty of family moves because it offers a lot of the great things that have been discussed. But realize things have changed and will continue to change within the system that present a lot of real challenges to Farm Credit employees.
6/17/2017 12:14:48 pm
Unfortunately, some of the new consolidated (merged associations) have started to lose that family feel. It's sad.
5/6/2017 10:07:11 am
I came from a previous career. I wish I would have found the Biostar 25 years ago. I would much rather work for farmers than lawyers.
5/6/2017 11:11:43 am
I was blessed to get the opportunity to come BACK to Farm Credit after seeing my children through school. I began PT when my youngest was in 1st grade before moving to be on the school schedule. I waited patiently for 12 years, and 6 months after my youngest graduated I had to opportunity to return full time!
5/8/2017 10:17:10 am
Thanks for expressing the feelings of so many of us so well Kate. In a few weeks I will pass my 42-year Farm Credit milestone. I still come to work every morning excited about serving these great customers and working with all these dedicated Farm Credit folks. Great opportunities for US agriculture and no one serves our industry better than the Farm Credit System.
5/9/2017 08:53:46 pm
Excellent comments! I have had other "grown up" jobs and now can't see myself working anywhere else. As I read your comments all I could think is how I couldn't agree more. My wife and children probably know more about the Farm Credit system than most of the customer/members we serve. Thank you for the reminder of what we have to offer along with the privilege to serve our producers. Another thought that came to mind were the words of Paul Harvey. And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, "I need a caretaker." So God made a farmer. I would add: "and Farm Credit to help them to succeed". Great Job!
5/11/2017 11:57:09 am
As a new employee of Farm Credit East, this article and the comments that follow, confirm my decision to join this organization. I was raised as the 11th generation on a dairy farm and studied agriculture in college, even being a part of the Farm Credit Fellows as an undergrad at Cornell. However, my initial career path took me away from agriculture. I was then employed by a Farm Credit customer and had the privilege of working with Farm Credit employees for years in consulting, benchmarking, credit and tax. In hindsight, I should have joined Farm Credit years before I did. But I am so pleased that I have the privilege of spending the rest of my professional career with this amazing organization.
5/11/2017 02:13:05 pm
I start on the 22nd! I've been a supplier for Farm credit for over seven years and this is 1000% true, which was a huge draw to the opportunity. I can't wait to offically join in.
Love hearing this from you! I am in my sixth year with Farm Credit and started as an intern. The service I am able to provide and the operations I work with make me excited for each day. We have many individuals in our organization who have 30+ years which is very inspirational.
5/11/2017 07:34:37 pm
Very well said and I could not agree more. I will have 24 years in the Farm Credit System, 23 with Farm Credit East, starting right out of college. I am excited to come to work each day and the dedication and commitment my teammates have to our member-customers inspires me each day.
5/12/2017 11:40:19 am
So well put! I sat down at my desk the first time as a 20-year-old and now as a 22 year old, I've been with Farm Credit almost 2 years and will start full-time in a week. This organization is special for sure and you completely captured the feelings of so many employees and members.
5/16/2017 10:58:50 pm
I sat down at a desk to my first Farm Credit job over 32 years ago and I wouldn't have it any other way. It's more than a job, it's family. The employees truly care about one another and the communities we live and work in .
5/21/2017 09:52:33 am
I retired one year ago. You captured why I stayed in Farm Credit 36 years.
5/26/2017 12:32:57 pm
Well said Tim and We couldn't agree more!
10/2/2017 02:37:25 pm
31 years straight and counting.
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Kate Lambert grew up in northern Illinois, not on a farm but active in FFA and showing livestock.
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