FCS Diversity and Inclusion - PROPOSED RULE - MARCH 2011 Dear Mr. Van Meter,
I wanted to voice to you my concerns for the future investment and allocation of Farm Credit System services. Growing up in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts and attending the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I have had frequent access to locally-farmed food my entire life and consider myself to be very lucky in that aspect, as it fosters healthy lifestyles, builds community relations, and spurs local economies. However, despite the enthusiasm for and importance of local food markets in this region, I have also witnessed the closing of a number of small farms due to financial struggles.
Competing against large food corporations can be difficult for small producers without the moral and economic support from their communities. Starting a farm is also a challenge for a new generation of growers. These farmers, ranchers, and gardeners are often beginning with little to no initial assets such as land, crops, or livestock, and are literally working from the ground up. I see this personally among fellow students at Umass Amherst who hope to work on or start farms of their own.
For these reasons, directing capital and having a sound credit system for small and mid-scale agriculture is important. Ways in which the Farm Credit Association can support local and regional food producers include: Creating outreach efforts to further connect growers with consumers and resources. Adding local and regional growers to the FCS boards for better representation. And lastly, committing to an investment goal for local and regional food producers of no less than ten percent of each institution’s capital within five years.
Having clear goals that promote local food markets as part of the FCA mission is an important step in assuring the current and future health of our local communities and our planet.
As a lifelong resident of West Springfield, Massachusetts and current student at Umass Amherst, I am requesting that the FCA meets these goals so as to allocate resources and investments to small and mid-sized local farms in the Pioneer Valley and across the nation.
Thank you for your time in reading my letter.
Sincerely, Christina Kollisch
Christina Kollisch 26 Overlook Drive West Springfield, MA 01089