Ben and Jena Mayo of Cullman, Ala., recently saw firsthand how Farm Credit uses money raised on Wall Street to support agriculture and rural communities. The Mayos, member-borrowers of Alabama Farm Credit, were among 27 agricultural producers who were selected for the 2018 Farm Credit Young Leaders Program in New York City and Washington, D.C.
The 13th annual program began with visits to a Wall Street brokerage firm and the Federal Farm Credit Banks Funding Corporation. There the group learned how investors’ purchase of highly rated Farm Credit notes and bonds provides steady funding that local lending cooperatives like Alabama Farm Credit put to work in rural communities. Together, Farm Credit’s customer-owned co-ops provide more than $261 billion in financing to farmers, ranchers, rural homeowners, agribusinesses and other eligible borrowers nationwide.
Next the group traveled to the nation’s capital to exchange ideas with public officials. While on Capitol Hill, the Mayos discussed policy issues with Rep. Bradley Byrne and congressional staff. That same day, the Senate passed its version of the farm bill, setting the stage for a compromise bill of this vital agricultural and food legislation.
At the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Business–Cooperative Service Administrator Bette Brand and others talked with the group about USDA programs tailored for young ag producers.
The five-day program ended with a visit to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s innovative farming and milling operation.
“This annual program is one of the ways we support young and beginning agricultural producers,” said Stan Ray, president of the Tenth District Farm Credit Council, which hosts the Young Leaders Program. “Participants are chosen by their local lending cooperatives, and come home with a new appreciation of the role Farm Credit plays in agriculture and rural communities across the country.”
The Mayos both grew up on family farms. In addition to running their own cattle operation, Ben works for the poultry company Ingram Farms and Jena is an instructional coach with the Cullman County Board of Education. A former Good Hope Middle School science teacher, Jena also is a repeat winner of the Cullman County Secondary Teacher of the Year award. The couple has a son and two daughters.
The Tenth District Farm Credit Council is the regional member of the national Farm Credit Council, the trade association that works on behalf of Farm Credit cooperatives and their member-owners.