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Producing Excellence

Kim Vanneman

Ideal, SD

Vanneman Farms

Products: Grain, hogs and cattle

Size of Operation: 5,000 acres; 4,300 hogs; 100 cow/calf pairs

In Business Since: 1981

Farm Credit Partners: Farm Credit Council, FCC Services and AgriBank

Working with Farm Credit Since: 1986

Leadership and service are principles that Kim Vanneman has applied to her ever-broadening leadership roles with local, regional and national agricultural organizations, directing her expertise to both for-profit and policy-driven groups. Along the way, she also helps her husband operate a 5,000 acre grain farm, hog finishing facility and cow/calf operation.

Kim’s first foray into the public sector was in 2006 when she was elected as a representative to the South Dakota legislature, where she served on the Agricultural Committee including two years as vice-chair and two years as chair. While her experience with her own farming operation contributed to her success on the committee, she says that it in turn provided her a broader perspective. “Sometimes you can get a little tunnel vision and think everyone farms like you do,” she says. “South Dakota agriculture is diverse, though, so it was a great opportunity to learn more about agriculture across the state.”

She broadened her perspective further when she joined the board of Farm Credit Services of America, a Farm Credit lending institution that serves South Dakota as well as Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming. Since joining the board in 2007, agriculture in the region has been enjoying strong returns and FCS America has been growing – a positive outcome that Kim has learned brings its own set of challenges. “It’s a good thing to grow, but we also need to capitalize that growth, determine the right level of patronage to return to our borrower-owners and how much to retain to support the organization and be prepared for future downturns,” she says.

Expanding from the challenges of governing a business organization, in 2007 Kim was elected to serve on the AgriBank District Farm Credit Council, a policy group focused on the agricultural industry in the bank’s 15 state region. In 2008, her colleagues on this board elected her to represent AgriBank on the board of the Farm Credit Council, the System’s lobbying and policy organization. Her agricultural knowledge and legislative experience are significant assets in her role on these boards. “Serving on the Farm Credit Council board has given me a broader perspective of agriculture and the issues affecting farmers and ranchers across the Farm Credit System,” she says. Balancing competing issues, when what benefits one industry sector might present a challenge to another, is an aspect of having a national scope that she’s learned to manage. Kim also serves on the Farm Credit Council Services board of directors, helping guide this business services and consulting company that serves Farm Credit organizations as well as other industry sectors.

Kim’s unique state, regional and national perspective has reinforced her belief in the Farm Credit System. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Farm Credit is the expert in ag lending and a strong advocate for agriculture,” Kim says. “It’s also clear that the cooperative model works. Being owned by the farmers and ranchers who borrow from us gives them a stake in the game so they want to see the System succeed. And that’s exactly what we’ve seen happen over the nearly 100 years since the Farm Credit System was established.”

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