Celebrating and Supporting Colorado’s Agriculture Industry thru Partnerships

Western Association of State Departments of Agriculture (WASDA) Annual Conference

August 2, 2023

First Southwest Bank (FSWB) was proud to sponsor the Western Association of State Departments of Agriculture (WASDA) Annual Conference, hosted by the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA), July 23-26 in Denver, CO.

The conference brought together partners and interested parties from WASDA states to discuss the issues impacting agriculture in their regions. This year’s conference included a youth panel, and conversations about public, private and philanthropic partnerships, innovations in water resilience and opportunities for producers using regenerative agriculture practices.

The panelists for the public, private, & philanthropic partnership discussion included Sherry Waner, FSWB’s Chief Development Officer, along with staff from the Gates Family Foundation, Colorado Counties, Inc., and the Colorado Cattlemen’s Land Trust. Sherry shared how the Colorado Department of Agriculture Future Loan Program served as a successful example of a public-private partnership between a CDFI bank and state agency, and a model program for other states to adopt. View Sherry’s presentation here.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the total number of farms and ranches in the U.S. has been steadily declining over the years while the average age of farmers and ranchers has been increasing.

As a top USDA and FSA lender, FSWB has helped rural Colorado's agricultural industry grow. As a result of our history and expertise, in 2022, the CDA selected First Southwest Bank to serve as financial partner and lender for their new $30 million Colorado Agricultural Future Loan Program offering low cost, fixed-rate loans to young, start-up and established farmers and ranchers. 

A study performed by the National Young Farmers Coalition, uncovered the top two challenges facing young and new farmers: 78% cite lack of access to capital & 68% cite lack of access to land.

Through the program, FSWB was able to offer financing for farm infrastructure and operations where conventional lenders couldn’t. By providing loans to those who might not otherwise qualify for traditional lending opportunities, in partnership with CDA, FSWB was able to strengthen Colorado agriculture, expand diversity within farming, and increase participation from next-generation farmers.

The Colorado Agriculture Future Loan Program was so successful that all funds were deployed, however FSWB continues to offer agricultural loans, agricultural lines of credit, and Farm Service Agency (FSA) loans. And, its partner non-profit First Southwest Community Fund has launched the Socially-Disadvantaged Farmers & Ranchers Fund to support people who have historically encountered barriers to access for capital. Visit the FSWCF website for more information.

For information on agricultural loans, visit FSWB’s agriculture loans webpage or contact Katy Dickey at 719-587-4218 or katy.dickey@fswb.com.