students working at Cal Poly
Student team leaders work in the Cal Poly Low Income Taxpayer Clinic where, under the direct supervision of Orfalea College of Business faculty, students represent low-income clients involved in tax controversies before the IRS and the U.S. Tax Court and help provide tax education to the community all free of charge. Photo by Joe Johnston/University Photographer/Cal Poly 1-17-20

Press Release provided by Farm Credit West

Agribusiness students at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo will have additional funding for student projects in the years to come after Farm Credit donated nearly $255,000 this year to create an endowment fund for the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences.

Six Farm Credit institutions serving farmers and ranchers throughout California contributed funding for the endowment. The annual proceeds will be used to pay for data and other resources that will enable student projects dealing with agricultural finance and lending, data analytics and risk management, said Marianne McGarry Wolf, the university’s agribusiness department head.

“I’m thrilled with the generosity of Farm Credit in supporting Cal Poly and our students,” Wolf said. “This endowment will really benefit both the students and the industry.”

Mark Littlefield, President and CEO, Farm Credit West, said the endowment will provide top-notch academic research that will benefit the food and beverage industry in California.

“Agribusiness is an important part of the state’s farming and ranching operations and research is critically important to provide the information needed for these businesses to grow and flourish,” Littlefield said. “Being able to draw on the outstanding students and faculty at Cal Poly will be a tremendous benefit, and Farm Credit is happy to help make it possible.”

Littlefield also noted that Farm Credit is one of the state’s largest employers of Cal Poly agriculture graduates. “These students are some of the best and the brightest in the state, and Farm Credit has greatly benefitted from the education they received there,” he said. “We’re proud to have the opportunity to give back to the school.”

Besides Farm Credit West, the other contributors are American Ag Credit, CoBank, Fresno-Madera Farm Credit, Golden State Farm Credit and Yosemite Farm Credit.

Wolf said the endowment will further promote the university’s core philosophy – to learn by doing.

“Industry partnerships and funding are critical to facilitating enhanced learn by doing opportunities for students. This donation from Farm Credit will enable students to be more engaged with industry, able to do more hands-on projects and to be able to travel and present their findings to clients.

“And our students do great work. I’ve had students get job offers while they’re in a meeting making a presentation,” she said.

The Agribusiness Department is one of nine departments in Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences and next fall expects to have 521 students enrolled. Its graduates are primarily employed by employers in specialty crops, wine and finance.

Wolf added that the new endowment is especially helpful now as the state’s university systems face significant budget cuts due to the recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic. She noted that students are currently preparing scenarios on how Agribusinesses will be able to adapt to changes in purchasing behavior due to the pandemic.