Diversification is the name of the game for the Bays family.
Three generations of Bays, including Daniel, his father Ken and his grandfather Gene, cultivate a combination of tree crops and row crops as a means of both land and financial management on Bays Ranch in Patterson, California.
Patience is Key
The family’s tree crops include apricots, almonds and walnuts. Once mature, the trees can actively contribute to the farm. However, orchards are expensive to establish and the trees require time to develop. Daniel said, “It’s usually somewhere around year seven or eight before we’ll get a big enough crop to finally pay off what we’ve invested into the orchard.” And this timeline depends upon the weather and the market, meaning that sometimes it takes a decade before the orchard is profitable.
To diversify their income, the Bays also raise processing tomatoes, lima beans, melons and wheat. These row crops are planted in the spring and harvested in the fall of the same year, allowing for a more immediate payout. Daniel said, “Where the trees may not be producing, hopefully the row crops will make enough to cover their expenses and pay a little bit to development costs to some of the permanent crops like the walnuts, almonds or apricots that are usually more profitable in the long run.”
Achieving a Vision
Farm Credit understands the unique needs of farmers and their particular crops. Loan officers work with each customer on a case-by-case basis to determine a plan that compliments their production schedules. “Yosemite Farm Credit helps us a lot with long term investments,” Daniel said. “They’ll work with us on crop development loans so that we can put off the repayment until we have a cash flow coming in …they want us to be successful so that they are successful, which is good for both of us.”
Chelsea Baptista, the Bays’ loan officer from Yosemite Farm Credit said, “One of the things I enjoy most about working with Farm Credit is being able to help families stay in farming and continue to grow their operations… If you have an orchard, a plan or a vision of what you want your operation to be, we ask ‘how can we help you get there?’”
Looking to the future, Daniel hopes to stay on the land his family has farmed for years. Together, the family is constantly planning for that future, asking themselves: “What do we need to do and how do we need to change to stay in business, stay ahead of the curve, so that there’s something there for us and for the next generation?”