Growing up, Heath Wilson remembers listening to his family recount their generations-long relationship with Farm Credit. Perhaps it was these conversations that inspired him to apply for a job at Farm Credit right after graduating from college.
From Farm Credit to Cactus Feeders
Whatever his motivation, Heath spent the first thirteen years of his career as a Farm Credit employee and now, as the CFO of Cactus Feeders, Heath is himself a Farm Credit customer by way of his employer.
Cactus Feeders employees 800 individuals across Iowa, Texas, Kansas, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina and is 100 percent employee owned through the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). This means that they pay their employees twice, both through their paycheck, as well as through ownership of stock in the company.
Each week, 20,000 head of Cactus Feeders cattle produce 12 million pounds of boneless red meat and 14,000 market Cactus Cattle hogs produce 2 million pounds of ham, bacon and other pork products. At 4 ounces per serving, that’s over 56 million meals each week.
Sustainability is important at Cactus Feeders, where they use technology that reduces methane produced by the animals 20 to 25 percent.
While it’s easy to see that Heath was knowledgeable about Farm Credit before he started at Cactus Feeders, his new role has given him access to different perspectives on the importance of Farm Credit to the agriculture system. “I also think Farm Credit is very important to the folks who help Cactus Feeders be successful,” he said. “That's the cow/calf operators, the stocker operators and even our feed yard customers. Because whether they're small or large, Farm Credit being there in the good and the bad times helps Cactus Feeders as well.”
After working with local banks since 1975, Cactus Feeders became a Farm Credit customer in 2006. “There's been a lot of changes at Cactus Feeders since 2006, we've grown in some areas and Farm Credit has always been there when we look to grow,” Heath said.
The whole package
Running a business as large as Cactus Feeders means that sometimes things are a little last minute. However, Farm Credit has been there to support Heath and his team, even when things are cutting close to the deadline. “There’s been times that we've done a great job of teeing things up for our lender and there's been times that we've probably had to rush a few things. Farm Credit has always come through for us, gotten the job done when we needed it, met the timelines and we really appreciate that,” he said.
In Heath’s mind, Farm Credit is the whole package. He said, “When you combine market terms and pricing, their expertise and focus just on ag and the cooperative model with a dividend payment at the end of the year, it's a very unique setup, which really gives Farm Credit a leg up on the competition.”