No matter the scale of farmer, the impact on the community is evident — there’s the economics of the industry, the growers who serve in public and nonprofit leadership roles, and the investment in our nation’s youth.
That last item is especially poignant when we think about the future of farming as a career. If we fail to educate our youth on the farm and through 4-H, FFA, and Young Farmer & Rancher programs, we are failing to contribute to the sustainability of agriculture.
In many cases, it’s not just individuals but businesses as well that pour resources into our nation’s youth and set them up to succeed down the line. Such is the case with Stanislaus Farm Supply, an agricultural coop based in Modesto, California.
“We strongly believe in community, family, and taking care of one another,” said Jeff Wolf, store manager at one of Stanislaus’ four retail locations. “Our favorite thing is to be a part of the experience of youth growing up in agriculture.”
Stanislaus has deep roots in its community. The farmer-owned coop dates to 1949 and currently has over 2,000 members (though customers are not limited to coop members). The business sells seeds and livestock feed under the Farm Valley label, but the core focus is on agronomy: providing crop protection, fertilizer, custom blends, and all the application services to go along with that.
The coop also spearheads AgStories, a website and video news channel dedicated to telling compelling stories about California agriculture. The coverage includes insightful profiles of farmers, family togetherness, and military service members.
For an entity with that much history and a personal connection to the farmers in its region, it’s clear why Stanislaus wants to make sure the that the next generation is prepared to farm, as well. It’s evident in the coop’s culture.
In 2016 alone, Stanislaus was involved in 11 fairs throughout California and Nevada, contributing financially on a local level to the organizers and to students.
These contributions go directly to the kids and to the local chapters,” Wolf said. “We feel that since we are in this community, that we should make every effort we can to impact directly with the youth who are involved.”
Stanislaus Farm Supply is also involved in area junior livestock auctions, often buying hundreds of animals each year.
Wolf noted: “Just before the livestock auction is the best part. The kids get dressed up in their uniform and bring us a letter introducing themselves, and we take them back and do a sort of interview, spend some time talking about their animal. Then they invite us to purchase their animal, and voila, we show up! …
“While this clearly isn’t a financial gain for Stanislaus, its great be a small part of ‘the good stuff’ in the communities that we are in. And it definitely means the world to the kids involved.”
Examples are being set, and the future is being sustained. Businesses involved in agriculture, not matter their size, would do well to follow this lead, if they’re not already. That’s not just good business; that’s good stewardship.
“It is extremely rewarding to be a part of a community of people and companies that share our values,” Wolf said.