American AgCredit (AAC) has pledged $2 million to support GoFarm Hawai‘i, one of the largest and most successful beginning farmer development programs in the nation. The University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) program provides business technical assistance, educational opportunities and access to a suite of resources designed to remove barriers to farming and agribusinesses. It also operates five beginning farmer training sites across four islands and an agricultural technician training program at the Waiawa Correctional Facility.
“Food sustainability and economic diversification are key post-pandemic priorities for our state,” UH President David Lassner said. “Many of the GoFarm Hawai‘i program’s alumni have started independent businesses or secured jobs in the agricultural industry. This strategic philanthropic investment from AAC provides a major boost to our state’s next generation of farmers and our agricultural community statewide.”
The Hawai‘i 2050 Sustainability Plan has a goal of doubling local food production by 2030.
“Hawai‘i imports about 85 to 90 percent of its food, making it particularly vulnerable to disruptions in food supply,” said CTAHR Dean Nicholas Comerford. “Our GoFarm Hawai‘i program addresses this by providing farmers with the tools they need to be successful, and expanding our local food supply—a necessity for our entire community.”
The donation represents the combined contributions of AAC and CoBank, both members of the nationwide Farm Credit System.
“We are thrilled to be able to support the great work GoFarm Hawai‘i has been doing for nearly 20 years,” AAC President and CEO Curt Hudnutt said. “American AgCredit’s mission, to support all segments of agriculture, is so closely aligned to that of GoFarm Hawai‘I, and this commitment is just a perfect fit for us.”
“Everyone in American agriculture understands the need to grow and develop the next generation of farmers and ranchers,” added Bill Davis, executive vice president of CoBank’s Farm Credit Banking Group. “It is absolutely critical for the industry and for the country as a whole. But for those who don’t come from a farming background, it can be difficult to get started. GoFarm Hawai‘i has a proven and successful model for engaging beginning farmers and, together with our partners at AAC, we are delighted to be a part of their continued success.”
GoFarm Hawai‘i Director Janel Yamamoto added, “We are extremely grateful for American AgCredit and CoBank’s support of our practical training program built around the real-world needs of tomorrow’s farmers. With their support, and the support of other key partners, we can help experienced farmers looking to expand and needing assistance to develop a business plan or proposal, as well as people new to agriculture, wanting to learn the basics of farming.”
The GoFarm Hawai‘i program is financially supported by competitive grants and private donations. Kamehameha Schools, the Ulupono Initiative, USDA NIFA, and the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture have been strong supporters of the program since its inception.
Many additional organizations provide access to financial support, land and facilities, contributing labor, time, resources and expertise to support program participants. Program supporters and collaborators include Kaua‘i Community College; UH Maui College; Corteva Agriscience; CTAHR Cooperative Extension, Hi!Ag Consortium; UH Sea Grant; The Kohala Center; Hawai‘i Department of Labor and Industrial Relations; Hawai‘i Department of Public Safety; City and County of Honolulu; County of Hawai‘i; Kaua‘i County Office of Economic Development; Farm Service Agency; Natural Resource Conservation Service; Hawai‘i Tourism Authority; Oahu Resource Conservation & Development Council; North Shore Economic Vitality Partnership; Farm Link Hawai‘i; Agricultural Leadership Foundation of Hawai‘i; Ho‘ola Veteran Services; Sustainable Moloka‘i; and the Hawai‘i Agritourism Association.
Michelle Galimba added, “As a shareholder in AAC and past board member of Farm Credit Service of Hawai‘i, I could not be more thrilled with this significant investment in GoFarm Hawai‘i. Growing new farmers and ranchers and helping existing farmers and ranchers increase their business skills will increase the resilience and sustainability of the state of Hawai‘i for decades to come.”
As members of the Farm Credit System, the largest single provider of credit to American agriculture, AAC and CoBank are committed to the vibrancy of agriculture. AAC serves farmers and ranchers throughout the Western and Midwestern states, including Hawai‘i.
ABOUT AMERICAN AGCREDIT
Founded in 1916, American AgCredit specializes in providing financial services to agricultural and rural customers throughout California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, New Mexico, Nevada, Kansas and Oklahoma, as well as to capital markets customers in all 50 states. AAC serves customers through 34 branch offices located throughout the Western and Midwestern states, with corporate headquarters in Santa Rosa, California.
CoBank is a $148 billion cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America. The bank provides loans, leases, export financing and other financial services to agribusinesses and rural power, water and communications providers in all 50 states. The bank also provides wholesale loans and other financial services to affiliated Farm Credit associations serving more than 70,000 farmers, ranchers and other rural borrowers in 23 states around the country.
CoBank is a member of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of banks and retail lending associations chartered to support the borrowing needs of U.S. agriculture, rural infrastructure and rural communities. Headquartered outside Denver, CoBank serves customers from regional banking centers across the U.S. and also maintains an international representative office in Singapore.
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The University of Hawai‘i Foundation, a nonprofit organization, raises private funds to support the University of Hawai‘i System. The mission of the University of Hawai‘i Foundation is to unite donors’ passions with the University of Hawai‘i’s aspirations by raising philanthropic support and managing private investments to benefit UH, the people of Hawai‘i and our future generations. www.uhfoundation.org