One 4-H project can change your life. Just ask Seth Snyder, co-owner of Stone Ridge Manor in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
“When I was five or six years old, I received my first Hereford beef calf. Thirty years later, my dad and I have one of the largest Hereford herds in the northeast,” Seth recalled. He jokes that his herd is a 4-H project “run amok!”
Stone Ridge Manor includes 150 registered cattle, and Seth and his dad annually background feed between 200 and 400 steers. They market freezer beef direct to customers and sell ground beef to a local distillery and restaurant. The farm also hosts The Breeder’s Classic, a Hereford production breeding stock sale every October.
“After graduating from Mount St. Mary’s University with a degree in economics, I decided I wanted a farming career path,” said Seth. “I was in my early 20s and there weren’t many commercial banks interested in lending me money to get started.”
A visit to his local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office helped him secure his first loan for equipment and breeding stock. “I wanted a loan for myself, without a cosigner,” Seth remembered.
Eight years into paying down his first loan, Seth had an opportunity to purchase an 80-acre farm. The purchase amount was above the FSA maximum. “We used the FSA portion and a bridge loan from AgChoice Farm Credit to fund the farm,” Seth said. “We also reorganized the equipment and cattle loan with FSA.”
While Seth has a few more financing options today, farm cash flow remains unpredictable. “FSA and AgChoice are willing to make loans others might not,” Seth explained. “We can save capital with low interest rates and terms for folks like me just getting started.”