Nathan and Amber Ryser of Honey Grove, Texas, recently learned how Farm Credit uses its cooperative structure and unique funding mechanism to lend support to rural communities and agriculture across the United States. The Rysers represented their lender, Texas Farm Credit, at the 2017 Farm Credit Young Leaders Program in Washington, D.C., and New York City.

The 12th annual program began in the nation’s capital, where the 23 participants joined Farm Credit representatives from around the country in meetings with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Sen. Pat Roberts, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. The Rysers also discussed policy issues with USDA officials, Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, and Rep. John Ratcliffe.

Next the group traveled to the New York area. During visits to the Federal Farm Credit Banks Funding Corporation and a Wall Street brokerage firm, they learned how investors purchase highly rated Farm Credit notes and bonds, supplying steady funding for loans and related services. Together, 74 borrower-owned Farm Credit cooperatives provide $251.2 billion in financing to farmers, ranchers, rural homeowners, agribusinesses and other eligible borrowers.

“Our annual program is designed to give participants insight into the ways Farm Credit supports agriculture and rural communities,” said Stan Ray, president of the Tenth District Farm Credit Council, which hosts the Young Leaders Program. “The trip is also an opportunity for these young ag producers to share their experiences and ideas with lawmakers whose policies touch the lives of farmers and ranchers.”

Nathan Ryser works alongside his mother, Phyllis Ryser, as an insurance agent in the family’s business, Country Side Insurance. Amber Ryser is a teacher at Morning Star Academy in nearby Bonham. Nathan also grows wheat, soybeans and cotton in partnership with his father, Wayne Ryser, who served on his Farm Credit cooperative’s board for many years. Nathan’s father and uncle taught him to always search for better, more efficient farming techniques, which has led to higher production and profits in an ever-changing industry.

The Tenth District Farm Credit Council is the regional member of the national Farm Credit Council, the trade association that works on behalf of Farm Credit cooperatives and their member-owners.