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When it comes to multi-generational farming, California growers are deeply rooted to their land. These stewards of soil honor the legacy of generations before them who tilled the land, and in so doing, cultivated a sense of connection to purpose only they can truly understand and pass on. The land defined their identity and sense of the past and gave them dreams for the future.
Today, successful farmers must be experts in sustainable farming, production, irrigation management, pest control, pollination, harvest and orchard development, and more. They must have the long-term vision it takes for multiple generations to thrive and a healthy respect for the environment while creating relationships with consumers and employees…and banks.
The last thing a farmer wants to worry about is ensuring he or she has funding opportunities and capital resources to make ends meet.
One such multi-generational farmer is Monty Deal with Campbell Deal Farms. “The Campbell family originally settled the land in 1852,” Monty explained with a smile. “The Sacramento Fair has the 150 Year Club. You get invited down with other businesses and if you’ve been doing business in the same location for a period of time, you receive a plaque. There were only 17 other businesses that had been in business in the State of California as long as my grandfather and me, so that was kind of an honor.”
Monty always wanted to go into the family business which originally began with 400 acres of walnuts, prunes, peaches and pears. But his grandfather didn’t encourage him for fear his grandson simply wouldn’t like it. Farming doesn’t always run in families, after all. But, over time, Monty insisted he wanted to farm. Eventually, his grandfather acquiesced, sat down and drew-up a lease. They farmed together for years. Monty explained, “We had a partnership until he passed away and I’m the sole proprietor.”
But things weren’t always easy. Making ends meet between crop payments from customers often means farmers must secure a Line of Credit for operating expenses. “Five Star Bank has been really instrumental in getting that off the ground. When we started we had no liquid collateral,” Monty explained. Five Star Bank’s Business Development Officer, Dan Sozzi, added that Monty did, however, have a good name.
“The first year we did business with a handshake and I was really impressed with that because that’s not the way things go,” Monty said. “Prior to working with Dan, I was at a different bank and I would start in December trying to secure my Line of Credit and it would take us probably five months to get it all secure. But with Dan, it was done in weeks instead of months.” He added, “This year, we had it taken care of in ten days.”
Farmers typically receive crop payments in only two or three installments per year. “But taxes are due and you pay your bee guy and you have a lot of expenses in the spring months,” Monty said. “With Five Star Bank, I paid my bee guy, pruning, spraying and my taxes.”
When asked what he’s most proud of, Monty’s focus returns to the land. With a glimmer in his eyes, he said, “I put a lot of effort into my orchard and it pays-off. Some growers think you have to have a bunch of ground to make a living. If you take care of what you have, you can do just as well with a smaller piece of ground. Instead of having a large operation and doing what you can, I pay a little more attention to a smaller crop and it makes it profitable. I don’t know if it works for everyone, but with the good Lord’s help it works for me.”
Sozzi added that Monty has one of the best managed orchards around, with the best quality almonds and prunes. “I do fairly well on the hundred acres I have because I take care of it and it’s profitable,” Monty said. We like to think Monty takes care of his land the way we take care of our customers – with great attention to detail and the time it takes to ensure our customers quickly get what they need.
"The business side of farming, securing a line of credit or dealing with a bank that's trustworthy that can take care of things…it's a stressful time of year to sit down and do all of these things. Five Star Bank made it flow so it's one thing you don't have to worry about. When I got into Five Star Bank, all of that subsided, all of that fear and anxiety went away. I don't worry about it anymore. I wouldn't dream of banking anywhere else."