Two of the Northeast's largest agricultural lenders have joined with a New York farmer to contribute $600,000 to Cornell University's internationally recognized ag research and education programs.
The joint gift is from Farm Credit East, CoBank and Sheldon Brown, a Cornell alumnus who previously served on the boards of both organizations. It will support a faculty fellowship focused on agricultural sustainability, including sustainable production practices and how agriculture can adapt to challenges posed by climate change. In addition, a portion of the grant will be used to fund student scholarships.
"As farmers throughout the Northeast increasingly cope with unanticipated challenges and new opportunities posed by a changing climate, understanding the evolving economic landscape and management needs of farming sustainably will be a growing factor in the success of their enterprises," said Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. "By helping Cornell to continue to provide the very best research and education at the nexus of agriculture, business and sustainability, this generous gift represents an important investment in the future of the region's agriculture sector."
Farm Credit East and CoBank have each committed $250,000 to Cornell, to be paid over the next five years. Brown, who graduated from Cornell in 1968, committed $100,000.
Farm Credit East, based in Connecticut, is the largest lender to agriculture in the Northeast and specializes in serving agriculture, commercial fishing and forest products. CoBank, a national lender based in Colorado, provides financing to agricultural cooperatives and other agribusinesses throughout the United States and also serves as Farm Credit East's wholesale funding bank. Both are members of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of banks and associations specifically chartered to provide dependable credit to agriculture and the U.S. rural economy.
"Farm Credit East believes strongly in the future of Northeast agriculture and the need for strong education, extension and research programs that support success in the farm community," said Bill Lipinski, Farm Credit East CEO. "We are very pleased to support this unique position at the Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences because it will help expand opportunities for agriculture in our region and ultimately help enhance profitability for the farm community."
"For well over a century, Cornell has been a leader in agricultural research and education, helping the U.S. farm economy to become the most productive and innovative in the world," said Bob Engel, chief executive officer of CoBank. "We're delighted to be partnering with Farm Credit East and Sheldon on this contribution, which will advance the knowledge of sustainable agriculture and also benefit students pursuing agricultural careers."
Brown, who owns and operates a dairy farm in Salem, N.Y., said he made the contribution out of gratitude for the lifetime of benefit he got from his education at Cornell.
"Cornell helped me to understand at a young age that agriculture is and always will be a knowledge industry," Brown said. "It is vital that we continue to promote research and education in the field of agriculture in order to maintain the competitive advantage our nation has built and ensure American agriculture's continued success."