Seven of California’s largest agricultural lenders are once again joining forces to alleviate hunger in drought-stricken farm communities throughout the state.
California’s six Farm Credit associations – American AgCredit, Farm Credit Services of Colusa-Glenn, Farm Credit West, Fresno Madera Farm Credit, Golden State Farm Credit and Yosemite Farm Credit – have pledged $50,000 to rural areas hurt by the historic drought, which has idled hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland and left many farm workers unemployed. Denver-based CoBank, which finances agricultural cooperatives and other agribusinesses throughout the country, including in California, has matched that contribution with an additional $50,000.
The combined $100,000 will be distributed to 18 California food banks. The contribution follows a similar joint contribution made by the lenders in 2014.
“California’s agricultural sector is strategically important to the state and to our nation as a whole,” said Robert B. Engel, chief executive officer of CoBank. “Farm Credit is committed to supporting this vital industry in good times and bad, not only with dependable credit but with other forms of assistance as well. We hope this contribution will make a meaningful difference for farm workers and their families, and we appreciate the important work that food banks are performing to help them through the drought crisis.”
“One out of three children in the Central Valley goes hungry every day, and the state’s drought conditions have only worsened the problem,” said Andrew Souza, president and CEO of Fresno-based Community Food Bank, one of the food banks that will receive funds from the Farm Credit contribution. “It is no longer just the poor and the homeless who are hungry; working families are also struggling to make ends meet. We are so grateful to CoBank and Farm Credit for recognizing the critical nature of this issue and stepping up to make a difference.”
The Farm Credit System is a nationwide network of banks and lending associations that provide loans, leases and other financial services to agriculture and other rural industries. Farm Credit institutions are cooperatively owned by the farmers, ranchers, growers, cooperatives and other borrowers they serve, and governed by boards elected by their customer-owners. CoBank and the six Farm Credit associations serving California finance every sector of agriculture in the state, including citrus, nuts, vegetables, dairy, cotton, rice, livestock, wine and timber.