A Legacy of Service: Farm Credit on Veterans Day

A Legacy of Service: Farm Credit on Veterans Day

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A look back at @farmcredit's legacy of service to America's veterans: ow.ly/E7OuZ #VeteransDay
Tuesday, November 11, 2014 - 10:00am


As we approach Farm Credit’s 100th anniversary in 2016, History Associates has been taking a look into the System archives to highlight the stories and people who have shaped the last century of lending to rural America.    

Each Veterans Day, we honor our military veterans who have worked to protect our national interests both home and abroad. As they served with honor, so too Farm Credit has been honored to serve the many veterans who are also farmers and ranchers, financing the agricultural operations of servicemen and women for almost 100 years.

Founded during World War I, Farm Credit’s first opportunity to provide loans to new veterans came early on. Chris Musser was one such veteran. A farm boy from Pennsylvania, Musser served in the 82nd Infantry Division, and in October 1918, passed ammunition to Sergeant Alvin York, who attacked an enemy machine gun nest and captured 132 German soldiers. Sergeant York became famous for his heroic deed; a film, Sergeant York, was made in 1941.

Musser also found himself on film after the war, thanks in part to Farm Credit. After twenty months’ service, Musser returned home and began working with his father on the family farm. In 1931, Musser purchased his own 102-acre farm near York, Penn., where he and his family grew potatoes, corn, assorted grain, apples, peaches and cherries. Musser used Farm Credit to invest in modern farming methods, building a device for his potato harvester and adopting contoured farming practices. The Mussers’ impressive efforts were featured in the Soil Conservation Service’s 1944 film For Years to Come. Musser’s son, Chris Jr., also continued his family’s tradition of military service, serving in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II.

World War II brought home a generation of young men eager to start new lives on the home front, and Farm Credit’s local associations worked hard to meet their needs. Many association directors served on local veterans’ advisory committees, providing guidance on current farm values and GI education on farm financing. Some veterans came home, though, knowing exactly where to go for their first loan. Harold Strub of Watova, Okla., served as a pilot in the Army Air Force Rescue Service in the Pacific. Strub was familiar with Farm Credit; his parents had bought their own farm with a Federal Land Bank loan years earlier. Strub wanted to have a farm waiting for him when he returned home, so in 1944, he wrote to his parents asking them to use his savings and a Farm Credit loan to purchase a parcel of land. Strub and his bride Vera moved to their new farmhouse in June 1945 and set to work making it feel like home. In just a few months, they acquired five cows and a flock of chickens, harvested hay and twelve acres of sorghum for the winter, and purchased a tractor and pickup truck. Farm Credit’s associations served many veterans like Strub. By 1947, Production Credit Associations had extended more than $53 million in credit to World War II veterans and servicemen.

Brothers and ex-Marine Corps officers Bobby and Duncan McLaurin also used Farm Credit to bolster their operations in Dillon County, South Carolina. Upon graduating from Auburn University in 1960, Bobby McLaurin became a commissioned officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving on active duty until 1965. Younger brother Duncan followed in Bobby’s footsteps, joining the Marine Corps in 1962 and serving as a captain during the Vietnam War. Following their service, the brothers adopted modern farming methods that made harvesting more efficient and increased the quality of their crop. Their investment paid off — by spring 1974, the McLaurins were planting 1,400 acres of cotton, 1,200 acres of soybeans, and over 600 acres of small grain. They also won the 1973 Dillon County Young Farmer of the Year award.

“One of the reasons the McLaurins have been successful young farmers is that they’re always on the alert for new innovations,” said Tommy Bashor, President of the Carolina Production Credit Association. “That’s why they’re leaders in their community.”

 These are just a few examples of the many veterans Farm Credit has served over the past 100 years, and we’re proud to continue our commitment to our nation’s veterans who are working to raise the food, fuel and fiber upon which we all depend.