Paving the Way for the Next Generation
Cindy Birchmeier & Jennifer Whitford
Grandfather standing in front of a tractor tire with two granddaughters

As lenders to rural America and production agriculture, we understand the challenges individuals face when starting their own farm or taking on ownership of a multi-generational farm and as such, we work to provide the educational and financial resources needed to help establish a solid foundation for new farmers.

Working with the Farm Service Agency (FSA), a branch of the USDA, we connect beginning farm operators, by smoothing their way into their agricultural pursuits or paving the way for the next generation of farmers. These programs are tailored specifically for beginning farmers, defined as anyone farming for fewer than 10 years.

While many aspiring agriculturalists may have heard of the FSA, understanding the available programs, identifying the most beneficial to their unique situations, and figuring out how to access them can be overwhelming. As part of our mission to work with young, beginning and small farmers, we work closely with the FSA to make these programs more accessible to those who need them the most.

Beginning farmers can initiate the conversation about FSA programs by visiting one of our local branches or an FSA office. Farm lenders can identify customers who may benefit from an FSA program, make recommendations and initiate the introduction, even for customers seeking direct financing from FSA.

Conversely, if a customer reaches out to FSA initially for one of the programs on which we partner, FSA will reach out to an ag lender. We will then discuss the farmer’s needs and how to best structure the financing. Moving forward the lender and FSA work side by side in the customer’s best interest.

In addition to financial assistance, we provide a number of educational resources and opportunities for young, beginning and small farmers including college scholarships, a mentoring program and grants for continuing education.

Birchmeier is Regional Vice President of Sales and Customer Relations and Whitford is VP of Lending at GreenStone Farm Credit Services. 

Published in the Michigan Farm News

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