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Producing Excellence

Charlie Talbott

Palisade, CO

Talbott Farms

Products: Peaches, wine grapes and pears

Size of Operation: 470 acres

In Business Since: 1984

Farm Credit Partner: American AgCredit

Working with Farm Credit Since: 1999

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Every summer, farm stands pop up around Colorado offering sweet, juicy Palisade peaches, grown on the Western Slope of the state. “Our climate lends itself to exceptionally flavored peaches," says Charlie Talbott, a 3rd generation Colorado peach grower. “Our orchards enjoy hot days and cool nights, with arid air and a high altitude. Somehow, a peach grown in the Palisade region just tastes better than the same peach grown anywhere else."

Charlie would know: he's been raising peaches full-time since 1983, having grown up on his parents' operation. Before rejoining the family farm, he travelled the world for two years, working on and learning from agricultural operations from England to Greece, and Israel to Australia. “I got to know the farmers and learn about their experiences and their history," he says. “There's a commonality among food producers that transcends race, religion and culture. We all face the same challenges."

That broad viewpoint has served Charlie well in his role as a director of Mountain Plains Farm Credit, starting in 2007, and American AgCredit since the two organizations merged in 2012, and of which he is currently chairman. “When I came onto the board, I was immediately impressed with the character and caliber of the board and the staff," says Charlie. “The most inspiring aspect, though, has been the opportunity to interact with the many outstanding farmers and ranchers throughout our service area and across the country."

Charlie is also a borrower-owner of the cooperative American AgCredit, turning to the organization for working capital as well as term loans to finance infrastructure. Two years ago, he built a new processing and packing facility to handle his own crop as well as production from neighboring farmers. The new facility is specific to peaches and will pack 300 bins a day, the equivalent of 35,000 pounds of fruit an hour. Talbott Farms needed the capacity: “We're on a growth trajectory with both our own production and the industry around us."

In addition to 300 acres of peach trees producing 4.5 million pounds of fruit a year, Talbott Farms also includes 160 acres of wine grapes, with upward of 500 tons of fruit going to Colorado wineries, and 10 acres of pears, which produce 200,000 pounds of fruit each year. Charlie manages this diverse operation working side-by-side with his two brothers. Together, the three are already working on a succession plan to prepare the operation for eventual transfer to the next generation. Their approach includes encouraging their children to get an education and gain work experience elsewhere so they can be sure of any decision to join the family farm. “The first member of the next generation is almost ready to come back to the farm, which is a fun dynamic to contemplate," says Charlie. “We also know that it's going to take foresight, wisdom and discipline to follow the process through."

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