California Wildfire Relief
2018 was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire season in California history. Though fires burned in virtually every corner of the state, some of the most significant impact was felt in Central and Northern California, regions that are critical to the nation’s agriculture industry. The area is home to large numbers of cattle operations as well as producers of tree nuts, citrus and stone fruit, grapes, rice and other irrigated field crops.
In late July, the Carr Fire began near Redding, California as the result of a single spark created by the rim of a flat tire scraping on asphalt. By the time it was contained in August, it had burned nearly 230,000 acres and destroyed more than 1,600 structures. Eight people lost their lives. Just a few months later, the Camp Fire ripped through Butte County, consuming more than 153,000 acres. The community of ConCow and the town of Paradise were almost completely destroyed and a total of 85 residents and three firefighters were killed.
As soon as we heard about the fires, we put together a list of our borrowers in or close to the area
J. Fletcher Monroe, CEO of Golden State Farm Credit
Both of these fires took place within the territory served by Golden State Farm Credit.
“The Carr Fire caused a lot of damage,” said J. Fletcher Monroe, CEO of Golden State Farm Credit. “There were a lot of cow-calf operations in the area that lost all their pasture ground. Fortunately, most of the cattle were in other locations for the summer, but members were scrambling to find a way to feed their animals when they brought them home.”
Monroe said the Camp Fire had an impact on agriculture as well. Several Golden State Farm Credit members lost homes and outbuildings, and at least one lost a business in Paradise. The fire affected local bee-keepers, destroyed a small vineyard, and burned a great deal of range land. The fire also hit the local 4H and FFA programs, where the kids lost structures they would have used to raise their fair animals. In addition, five Golden State employees lost their homes in the fire.
In both instances, Golden State was quick to reach out, both to its members and to the community as a whole.
“As soon as we heard about the fires, we put together a list of our borrowers in or close to the area,” said Monroe. “We didn’t wait for them to call us. We reached out to them to let them know we were here, that we were going to work with them and that the last thing they needed to worry about was their loans. We wanted to give them peace of mind and let them know we were here to support them.”
We stand by each other, we support each other and, when times get tough, we work together to respond and rebuild
Thomas Halverson, CoBank’s president and CEO
In addition to its customer outreach, Golden State was quick to provide support to the impacted communities with donations made to the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, local food banks and assistance funds set up specifically to support agriculture. CoBank matched Golden State Farm Credit’s contributions following the Carr Fire and established an additional $350,000 relief fund in the wake of the Camp Fire.
Other members of the Farm Credit family, from California and throughout the United States, also stepped up to provide assistance. Farm Credit’s combined efforts provided more than $500,000 to support relief efforts.
“We here at Golden State Farm Credit are honored to be part of the Farm Credit System, where we stand by each other and our communities in times of crises,” Monroe said. “We were humbled by the outpouring of support, heartfelt prayers, and generosity received from so many.”
“That’s what rural America is all about,” said Thomas Halverson, CoBank’s president and CEO. “We stand by each other, we support each other and, when times get tough, we work together to respond and rebuild. CoBank was proud to join Golden State Farm Credit and so many of our customers to support the relief efforts in California, and we will continue to stand by them throughout their journey to recovery.”