In The News

First-generation farmer learned the ropes thanks in part to Farm Credit support

Bringing new farmers and ranchers into agriculture and helping them succeed is an important priority in California and across the nation. As in many fields, the average age of farmers is rising. In fact, the most recent U.S. Census of Agriculture showed that the average principal farm owner in 2012 was 58.3 years old, up from just 50.5 years in 1982.

That’s where the California Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers program comes in. The program develops leadership skills and networking opportunities for people between the ages of 18 and 35 in a wide range of agricultural-related occupations.

Providing strong support to the program is the Farm Credit Alliance, consisting of Farm Credit West,  three other California Farm Credit Associations and CoBank, a national cooperative bank and member of the Farm Credit System. Since 2008, Farm Credit has provided $316,000 to help fund Young Farmer and Rancher conferences and events along with the CFBF Annual Meeting.

A perfect example of the program’s value is Jamie Johansson, who was elected California Farm Bureau president in 2017. An olive grower and olive oil processor in Butte County, Johansson is a first-generation farmer who said he owes his success in large part to the YFR program.

Johansson started Lodestar Farms in 1993 when his parents moved from Humboldt County to Oroville to build a home. The 20-acre parcel had mature olive trees from the area’s past as a prime olive-growing region, and so the young man said, “Let’s give farming a shot.”

“I needed a mentorship opportunity, and through YFR I met other people and was able to get advice from my peers,” Johansson said. “It helped me realize there was a place in agriculture for everyone and it’s a great way to create more farming families.”

In the years since becoming a farmer, he has helped lead the rebirth of California’s olive oil industry and now farms 80 acres to produce award-winning oils.

Farm Credit West recognizes that preserving the future of agriculture means ensuring young farmers, ranchers and agribusiness professionals are provided the tools to help them succeed. In addition to supporting the California Farm Bureau’s Young Farmer and Rancher Training program, Farm Credit West hosts an annual Executive Institute for young farmers. During this three day program, attendees are provided with leadership training opportunities, financial management seminars, succession planning, and much more. 

If you have any questions or want more information on the Farm Credit West Young Farmer/Rancher Executive Institute please contact Michelle Paul at 916-780-1166 or