Pochahontas County, West Virginia
Timothy VanReenen is a beginning farmer and a partner in his family's farming operation.
The VanReenens raise beef cattle, as well as row crops and timber, in Pocahontas County, West Virginia.
Ag Biz Planner program
Timothy studied agriculture in college. But his classroom experience left a few gaps when he returned to the farm. To help him gain the knowledge and experience he needed, he enrolled in and graduated from the Ag Biz Planner program. Ag Biz Planner is an online business course for young, beginning, small and minority farmers offered through Farm Credit of the Virginias’ Knowledge Center.
Thanks to this program, when the time came to write a business plan, he knew how to approach and work through it. He finally had real-world numbers from his farm, not generic examples from a text book.
In addition to working through the numbers, Timothy received mentoring during the Ag Biz Planner program from retired Farm Credit loan officers. “They really care about you, the individual,” he said.
The Farm Credit difference
Before coming to Farm Credit, Timothy worked with other commercial lending institutions. However, those experiences felt impersonal. “All they really care about is this is your interest rate and when your payments are going to be due. They don't care how it's done or what sacrifices you make,” he said.
Timothy’s experiences with Farm Credit of the Virginias were different.
When his mentors at Farm Credit asked him about his long term and short-term goals for the business, it felt like they actually cared about discussing how he could accomplish those goals. They looked well-beyond the numbers.
“That’s been a great thing,” he said. “The folks at Farm Credit are so amenable and really want to know you, the person, not just you, the number on the loan application. It makes me feel a lot better using their services and going to talk to them, knowing that I’m part of the family.”
And being part of the Farm Credit family doesn’t stop there. Timothy has enjoyed participating in the broader Farm Credit cooperative community, too. “And, of course, with the cooperative driven part, you are part of the bigger family and you really have a stake in the company,” he said.
Farm Credit understands agriculture
As a new and beginning farmer, Timothy appreciates that Farm Credit understands agriculture. Where other types of non-agricultural business may have steady income each month, enabling them to make frequent loan payments, farmers’ income is only generated at certain times of year when the crops are harvested, or the livestock sold. “Your loans are structured so that you pay when you have cash coming in, you’re not responsible for making the one payment every month,” Timothy said.
“Farm Credit employees are people who understand agriculture; people who live it and breathe it in those communities,” he said. In Timothy’s experience, those he’s worked with at Farm Credit have had an attitude of “we'll work with you no matter what,” and that has made a big impact on him as a young and beginning farmer.