Local farmer meets with lawmakers on Capitol Hill

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A member of Farm Credit's Young, Beginning and Small Farmers Program advisory board, was one of two Hoosier farmers who made the trip to Capitol Hill to meet with legislators.

08.04.16    |    News Stories
Daviess County row crop and cattle farmer Chris Killion was given the opportunity of a lifetime recently when he was asked to meet with government officials in Washington, D.C., to discuss the importance of helping young farmers.

“I was able to go out to Washington, D.C., for four days thanks to Farm Credit Mid-America,” said Killion whose farm is situated between Washington and Plainville along SR 57.

A member of the Young Farmer Advisory Committee and the Young, Beginning and Small Farmers Program advisory board, Killion, who started farming fulltime less than a decade ago, was one of two Hoosier farmers who made the trip to Capitol Hill to meet with legislators.

“It was really an honor to be able to go to Washington and meet with lawmakers,” he said, adding that being a part Farm Credit’s Grow Forward Program, an initiative designed to help guide young farmers along the way, has been beneficial to his operation. “We met with Larry Bucshon, staffer Jeff Lucas and U.S. Senator Dan Coats’ legal counsel Jon Foltz and Coats’ correspondent Marjorie Daily.”

Killion said during those meeting he was able to discuss the importance of helping young farmers in America.

“We were able to talk about the struggles and what it’s like being a young or small farmer,” he said adding that his time in the nation’s capital also included a visit to the U.S. Department of Agriculture office to speak with four different department heads.

Those department heads included Chris Beyerhelm, associate administrator of the Farm Service Agency; Ron Harris, director of outreach for the Natural Resources Conservation Service; Nicole Nelson, coordinator of the Agriculture Marketing Service and Lilia McFarland, New Farmers Coordinator Farm Service Agency.

“It was really an extreme honor and privilege to be able to speak on behalf of other young farmers in the Midwest,” said Killion.

William Johnson, president and CEO of Farm Credit Mid-America, said Killion’s passion and willingness to share his story with others made an impact in Washington.

“Young and beginning farmers like Chris are an integral part pf agriculture’s future and Farm Credit recognizes the role in shaping the next 100 years,” said Johnson, noting that Farm Credit is celebrating 100 years of helping farmers. “The challenges young farmers face and successes they achieve are critical for our legislators in Washington to hear.”

Grow Forward, part of Farm Credit’s plan to help farmers find success in the field, offers a variety of services and programs to those who partner with them for loans.

Dick Poe, executive vice president of financial services for Farm Credit, said the lending program has three parts.

“We address the client and their loan needs and ask them to come up with a business plan,” said Poe. “We want to see if what they want to do is realistic. The second part includes the underwriting and the third part is the education component.”

Poe said Farm Credit works with up-and-coming farmers to understand the business side of farming and how to create a profitable business.

“We want to help people be successful at what they do,” he said adding that Farm Credit offers educational workshops and other opportunities to those enrolled in the program that began in 2014. “We understand with farming, there are always risks and some years will be better than others, but we’re here to help navigate those waters.”

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