I’ve been in agricultural lending for a long time and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a lot of our nation while meeting with farmers and ranchers.
Earlier this month I completed an item on my personal “bucket list,” when I went on an Alaskan cruise. I have now visited all 50 states, with Alaska being the only state that I haven’t made a farm loan in.
When people find out that I have traveled to so many states they always want to know which state is my favorite, which is an impossible question to answer. Each state has something unique and beautiful to offer.
There is nothing more beautiful than spring in Kentucky, fall in the Northeast, watching the sunset in Arizona or Nevada, frost on wheel lines in Idaho, watching a sunrise in Montana, fields of wheat in the plains, or the smell of orange blossoms in Florida or California, and I could go on. I could never pick a favorite unless it would be my home state, because that is where my family is.
The one consistent thing that I have found in each state is the farm families. They are all hardworking, honest people who are doing their best to raise a family and preserve their family farm. They are overworked, underpaid and under appreciated, but they don’t complain.
Sure, they may complain about commodity prices, but you will never hear them complain about long hours, working weekends, poor benefits, lack of raises or being under appreciated by their city neighbors.
During my career I have had the pleasure of learning about a lot of different commodities. I’ve spent a lot of time on grain farms, dairies, cattle operations, cotton, poultry, swine, orchards, vineyards, citrus, peanuts, etc., but I have also been on a few unusual ones.
Some of the more unique ones are deer breeding stock, ginger, dragon fruit, mushrooms, floriculture, herbs, sandalwood, timber, taro, lychee, hazelnuts, maple syrup, hops, vanilla, cacao and kalamungai.
The farmers I have worked with have been some of my best teachers. They are always excited to tell someone new about their operation and how they produce their crop, and that excitement spills over onto their audience.
I didn’t pick my career path. It was one of those situations of “in the right place, at the right time,” coupled with being a fast learner and having a good work ethic that got me where I am today. I can tell you it has been a very rewarding career and I am thankful to be a small part of the agricultural community.
Kathy Daily is the Senior Vice President of First Financial Bank’s Farm and Ranch Division. She has been an agricultural lender for more than 25 years.