05/02/10 — Two area farmers complete program

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Two area farmers complete program

By From staff reports
Published in News on May 2, 2010 1:50 AM

Two area young farmers, Jim H. Lynch of Goldsboro and Ben Thomas of Princeton, were among the inaugural group of young, beginning, small, and minority farmers who recently completed a Farm Credit University AgBiz Planner program, sponsored by AgCarolina Financial with a grant from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission.

Both Lynch and Thomas successfully completed the college-level, online course over several months and learned to develop business and financial plans, as well as budgeting and management skills essential to a farm's success.

Lynch, who started farming in 2005 when he purchased a nine-year-old turkey brooder operation, owns Cornerstone Farm. His turkey operation is contracted with Goldsboro Milling, for which he also works as an environmental specialist. Lynch can currently brood about 225,000 turkeys a year.

Thomas is a partner with his father-in-law on Bryant Worley Farms, as well as a partner with his brother-in-law, Kelvin Norris on NWT Family Farms. In the Worley Farms enterprise, the partners grow 1,000 acres of small grains and operate 8 hog houses and 5 turkey houses. NWT Family Farms is in its second year of growing 150 acres of tobacco.

As a wrap-up to the program, both young farmers recently attended a two-day FCU AgBiz Planner Conference in Raleigh. From sessions led by Dr. David Kohl, an agricultural finance and business management expert, they and 25 other farmers in the program gained additional insight on how to better manage their farming operations.

Recounting what he'd learned from the AgBiz Planner program, Lynch said, "Participating in the program and conference was significant to the long-term sustainability of our farming operation." Thomas added, "The AgBiz Planner program benefitted me greatly in getting to apply the course to our operations and how we can improve and make them more profitable."

As part of the AgBiz Planner program, Lynch had a close mentoring relationship with Alan Hawkins, a financial services officer working in the cooperative's La Grange branch office of AgCarolina Financial. Chris Coates, another financial services officer working in Smithfield branch office of AgCarolina Financial, serves as mentor for Thomas. Lynch has been an AgCarolina Financial member for seven years, while Thomas has been a member for two years.

Of the two-year grant from the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, AgCarolina Financial CEO Eugene Charville said, "We are pleased to have provided this educational opportunity for these farmers to learn and benefit in ways that are certain to enhance their farming operations."

AgCarolina Financial is a farmer-owned financial cooperative with headquarters in Raleigh. The leading provider of credit to farmer-members, AgCarolina Financial has over $1.2 billion in loans and commitments outstanding to nearly 3,000 serviced by 12 branch offices in 34 central and eastern counties in the state.