During July 23-24, several representatives from Cape Fear Farm Credit flew into Washington D.C. to attend the Farm Credit Fly-In. We joined more than 700 other Farm Credit representatives from all over the country to demonstrate the impact Farm Credit has on rural communities and the role we play in supporting farmers in both good and bad times. The Fly-In offered a chance for us to share with legislators current issues and hear first-hand stories from the farm. We were thrilled to join with so many individuals committed to agriculture and bring a bit of farm to the city.
For the Fly-In, we were joined by two customers—Sid and Jodi Lanier, farmers from Maple Hill. It was important that legislators heard from not only those of us who work at Farm Credit, but to hear straight from those living the rural life.
The event was filled with wonderful experiences and meaningful conversations. We heard from U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue during an opening luncheon, which was an excellent way to start our time in D.C. A women’s breakfast was also held, allowing ladies to network and share stories. There was also a full day of meeting with legislators where we discussed important issues like rural infrastructure and broadband. Residents like the Laniers are unable to get broadband.
“Hopefully legislators put it on the front burner. We are too far off the road to have broadband. We have to depend on cellular data and internet. A lot of time it is hit or miss. So that’s something important to us because we have to deal with it on a daily basis,” Jodi said of their needs and concerns.
The Laniers were also able to share their story with legislators. They talked about how their farming roots run deep. Sid is a third-generation farmer while Jodi grew up in a farming family that grew tobacco, row crops, and even hogs on the ground during her grandfather’s time. Three years ago, Sid and Jodi transitioned from row crops to focusing on raising hogs. They purchased the hog farm Sid’s parents built in 1992. Today Sid, Jodi, and their three boys, have 3,600 sows and contract with Smithfield Foods on their farrow to wean farm.
The Laniers shared with legislators the impact of recent hurricanes on their farm. For the Laniers it was a hard hit. They had owned their farm for only a little while before Hurricane Matthew swept through, and not long after Hurricane Florence hit the area too.
“The hurricanes were a pretty hard hit for us, but Cape Fear Farm Credit were very active with making sure we were doing well after that. We ware still recovering from the hurricane, but it is going well, and Farm Credit has made it a smoother process for us,” said the couple.
The Laniers also shared the better parts of farming with legislators like working together as a family. The two older Lanier boys enjoy working with the pigs, and the 5-year-old is anxiously waiting for the day that he can participate more. Time spent with legislators was a positive one.
“Legislators that we met with were very informed, which we were happy to see that they were on the same page as us. They were very receptive to what we said and the story we told,” said Jodi and Sid.
The Laniers said that meeting Legislators wasn’t the only takeaway they got from the Fly-In. They also benefited from getting to know our Cape Fear representatives better.
“Everyone at Farm Credit feels like family and getting this chance to know them better… you can take that back with you and feel like you can call on them anytime if we need them,” Jodi said of the event. “We’ve really gotten to know them better which has been great!”
A good relationship with our customers is invaluable. We love that this event not only brought rural and urban together, but also brought our Cape Fear family closer together.
Perhaps the highlight of the trip for many was the Marketplace, a place for farmers to bring their products to D.C. to share. Legislators anxiously waited to attend this event and were so excited to experience a bit of farm in urban D.C. Products highlighted at the Marketplace were all items produced by Farm Credit customers from all over the country. Cape Fear Farm Credit shared muscadine jelly with all attendees produced by Lu Mil Vineyards in Dublin, N.C.
“Bringing something like that really gives people a full awareness that, hey, we’re agriculture, and we’re out here, and we just need your support. Everyone brought so much to share,” said Jodi about the Marketplace.
In short, we brought the farm to the city and were met with excitement, appreciation, and an open-mind. We are thankful for the Fly-In and opportunity to air drop some North Carolina agriculture to our nation’s capital.