July 10, 2018 |YBS Farmers and Ranchers
Dustin and Ashley Dickerson of Weslaco, Texas, recently saw firsthand how Farm Credit uses money raised on Wall Street to support agriculture and rural communities. The Dickersons, member-borrowers of Texas Farm 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 Texas Farm 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 Dickersons discussed policy issues with Sen. John Cornyn, Rep. Filemon Vela 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 Dickersons are continuing a family farming tradition in Weslaco, near the southern tip of Texas. Dustin, a fourth-generation farmer, helps manage a 7,000-acre farm with his father, Barry Dickerson, and uncle, Tim Belcher. Ashley keeps the books for the Rio Grande Valley farm, which mainly grows sugarcane, cotton, corn and grain sorghum. Dustin and Ashley serve on the Texas Farm Credit Young Leaders Council, and are also vice presidents of the Algodon Club, a nonprofit civic organization that promotes cotton. They have three young 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.
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