Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives
Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives

Valley Small Business Development Corporation

Selma, California
Farm Credit Affiliation
Farm Credit West, Fresno Madera Farm Credit, Golden State Farm Credit and CoBank
Valley Small Business Development Corporation's Perspective

Valley Small Business Development Corporation (Valley) delivers mobile financial literacy education to underserved rural communities and socially disadvantaged farm populations in five California counties.

A collaboration between four Farm Credit organizations serving Kings, Kern, Tulare, Fresno, and Madera counties, the initial funding secured and retrofitted a van for mobile delivery of services, and supported the hiring of skilled staff to teach the targeted communities and connect them to service providers that can support their goals.

“Start-up businesses and beginning farmers all struggle with financial literacy, accounting and regulatory issues. Valley acts as the connector of services to those seeking direction and assistance,” says the organization’s president and CEO Debbie Raven, who has worked in agricultural lending for 40 years. “We do so by delivering these products and services to their doorstep through the use of the mobile office. The end result is economic development of rural businesses and small farms, ultimately providing sustainability for these individual’s families and communities.”

Valley primarily targets the next generation of agriculture producers. This includes children being groomed to take over their family operation, first generation immigrants with the dream of owning their own farms, and college educated students interested in entering the field. While energetic and committed, these fledgling producers are often unaware of the products and services available to assist them. They might not understand the dynamics of accessing the capital they’ll need to succeed, or haven’t found the financial backing to enter agricultural industry.

“At Valley, we are in the business of providing much needed technical assistance, products and services to help the underserved farmers connect these relationships to navigate the path to financial success,” says Debbie.

Valley is the hub of an extensive network of service providers, lenders and governmental resources that focus on the needs of young and beginning farmers and ranchers. The collaboration between Farm Credit West, Fresno Madera Farm Credit, Golden State Farm Credit and CoBank is working to bridge these gaps and bring education, opportunities and business connections directly to these producers to help them succeed.

“The agricultural industry will always face challenges of weather, water, supply and demand, price fluctuations, shrinking profit margins and regulations. There are so many tools available to navigate through these challenges, but the key is knowing where to look for assistance,” says Debbie. “With our mobile van and our network of resources and relationships, Valley Small Business is the catalyst for the success of the next farming generation. With improving technology and an abundant supply of new entrepreneurs and beginning farmers, the opportunities for success in agriculture are endless.”

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