Lajas, Puerto Rico
At 16, Jorge Ferrer Graniela became the owner of Western Hay, a farm dedicated to hay for cattle and other animals. “I’ve been in this business since my childhood, I started very young," said Ferrer. More formally, he began actively participating in the business when his father opted for retirement and divided his inheritance while living. As a result, Jorge Ferrer inherited a farm located in the Lajas valley as a teenager. In fact, legal emancipation from his parents was required in order to accomplish his first commercial transaction. As he recalls, Puerto Rico Farm Credit was very supportive during said transaction, consisting in the buyout of additional land to expand the hay business he had inherited. To date, Ferrer has maximized every business opportunity he is presented with.
The initial 343 acres of land Jorge developed into Western Hay have now expanded into 1,310 acre over the last 17 years, by purchasing connecting land plots. The quality of the terrain must comply with fertility standards, including their access to water systems and flat land layout that ideal for developing hay farms.
Ferrer’s age has not been an obstacle in the growth of his agribusiness project, given his commitment, positive business vision and the support of Puerto Rico Farm Credit. He tells the story of a buyout he wanted to negotiate in 2007, when he went to discuss the terms of the offer with PRFC’s Credit officer. After a while, the sellers asked the credit officer when the interested party would arrive, and were told the young man they had been talking to was the interested buyer.
While his future plans to continue expanding are not in a hurry, Ferrer recognizes it is not an easy task. He plans to remain consistent in his growth plan and is hopeful of the current upswing of the agricultural sector on the Island. “Many non-agriculture related professionals are becoming interested in creating new agribusiness projects, and they perceive them as feasible." Today there is added competition in his sector, but Ferrer remains focused on his business model to achieve his company goals successfully. As part of his business strategy, Ferrer has diversified his farm, leasing out specific plots for corn and rice seed plant projects, developed and operated by other companies.
Ferrer, who describes his relationship to PR Far Credit as “very good”, is grateful to the institution because they trusted him, and his business vision to continue expanding and investing in new land. “Puerto Rico Farm Credit gave a 21-year-old entrepreneur an $800,000 loan, the largest one ever taken for his business. I felt their support and that gave me a sense of security to continue moving forward with my business plan," he said.
Agriculture is the business of the future and he points out that agricultural production demand still has ample room to grow. Agricultural transformation is proactively happening with professional development and innovation, unlike it was perceived in the past. Today, agriculture is positioning itself in the important role it abandoned years ago.