Supporting Young Farmers for Next Generation of Ag

Community is at the center of Golden State Farm Credit’s business model. The success of its customers is imperative to a strong, thriving community. As a cooperative lender, it is committed to its members, who are also its neighbors.

Golden State is a California-based Farm Credit Association providing financial services for ranchers and farmers. The cooperative was formed in 2014 through a merger of Northern California Farm Credit and the Federal Land Bank Association of Kingsburg. Today, it is a $2.1 billion organization serving seven different counties— primarily dairy and tree nut farmers.

More than just a lender, Golden State uses financing to grow and support ag communities that might otherwise not survive without these crucial loans. As a mission-based co-op, it focuses on investing back into the community.

With CoBank’s support, Golden State provided funding for a startup FFA program at a local school and assisted with a program for special needs students, pairing them with ag students to help raise and show livestock for local fairs. Golden State has also gifted $35,000 to local food banks to help combat food insecurity.

“We are committed to serving our members and their families through a personalized lending experience. And the loans we provide don’t just affect the farmers we finance. They provide jobs to the people living in the rural communities, which ensure that kids remain in local schools. It’s important for us to support these small communities so they can be sustainable,” said Rob Faris, Golden State’s CEO.

Golden State is a trusted community lender, and through its partnership with CoBank, it is able to tackle larger deals and projects. It has experienced significant organic growth in recent years. Currently, they are financing two large nut processor expansion projects focused on automating operations. Supporting borrowers by financing projects of this nature is imperative as companies look to streamline processing, minimizing labor needs—and in a time where finding labor can be a challenge, the automation to replace manual work is crucial.

“CoBank is absolutely a partner we must have in our pocket every day to fund and deliver loans to our customers. Having a strong, healthy Farm Credit bank to deliver on the services we need in a timely manner has really contributed to our success,” Faris said.

Just as CoBank is an integral part of Golden State’s business model, Golden State offers an abundance of support to its members and local organizations. Youth-based programs, such as 4H and FFA, are especially importantto the association, and Golden State invests $75,000 into county fairs and youth livestock programs every year. “We are passionate about providing learning opportunities for the next generation of ag leaders, which is why we invest money and time to support them. The only way Golden State will continue its success is to invest in the future of agriculture,” Faris said.

This story was originally published in the CoBank 2022 Annual Report.