“I want Farm Credit Mid-America to continue to be a major credit source for farmers, ranchers and folks who wish to live in rural areas. We should strive to be a cost effective source of financing and should continue to target serving best credit customers. We should strive to help young and beginning ranchers and farmers without a significant financial burden to our membership.”
I am prepared to serve as a Farm Credit Mid-America Director because I have been a Farm Credit customer since 2000 and am a past member of a local Farm Credit Mid-America advisory committee. I was instrumental in helping develop and organize a commodity product swap that allows Farm Credit members to hedge their production without the daily margin calls. In addition, I had a 38-year career with Cargill and spent my last years with the company as president of the global cotton merchandising, ginning and warehouse business. Serving as president allowed me the opportunity to manage a $2-billion business with over 1,500 employees worldwide.
The primary reason for my interest in serving on the Board of Directors is my desire to share my experience to the benefit of the Farm Credit Mid-America organization. I was blessed with the opportunity to lead Cargill Cotton. This experience required extensive world travel and gave me a global perspective few enjoy. The cotton and commodity knowledge I possess will be helpful to the Board if I am elected. And finally, my experience leading a large organization gives me a perspective that I believe will be valuable to the Board and Farm Credit Mid-America management.
We all know that most of agriculture is in a crisis or at best survival mode. We are heading into the fifth difficult year and I believe we may experience at least two to three additional years of this low commodity price environment. I am impressed with the customers with whom Farm Credit Mid-America has chosen to establish a lending relationship. I would say that generally the producers and homeowners I know that are financed with Farm Credit Mid-America are among the top third of their peers financially.
The most critical issue I see going forward is how we can assist young producers to establish themselves financially without significantly impacting the cost of borrowing for the existing customer base. I believe we will have to reach out to the USDA and possibly other financial organizations to find solutions to the natural transition of handing farming operations from generation to generation or supporting non-traditional farming operations such as organic farms.
The biggest challenges facing agriculture and agriculture financing I see are obviously commodity prices. We need to continue to educate and assist our government in leveling the global playing field especially around agriculture subsidies and trade barriers. As long as commodity prices remain near or below breakeven, the more difficult it will be to maintain the quality of our credit book.
An important career personal accomplishment that I am most proud of is serving as president of Cargill Cotton. I was born into a modest Iowa farm family and was the first person in my extended family to attend college. I was blessed with wonderful parents and caring mentors early in my Cargill career. While president of Cargill Cotton, we grew to be the largest cotton merchandising company in the world and established large local operations in China, India and Brazil while enjoying the most profitable years in Cargill Cotton’s history.