Jon Alcorn New Head of Agribusiness at Suncrest Bank

Jon Alcorn will become the new head of Suncrest Bank’s Agribusiness Division in Fresno, California. The announcement was made on August 7, 2017.

“John brings over 35 years’ experience in both agribusiness banking and hands-on farm management. His appointment reflects our continuing commitment to the Central Valley’s agricultural sector”, said Ciaran McMullan, President and CEO of Suncrest Bank. “Accurately underwriting agricultural credit in California requires both technical industry knowledge as well as experience of multiple cycles in commodity prices and land values, across a wide variety of crop types.” McMullan added. “John’s deep knowledge of these cycles makes him a highly qualified addition to our Agribusiness team.”

The president of the Fresno Market, Jennette Williams, also commented on the appointment of Alcorn.

“We are delighted to have someone with John’s know-how join our Fresno team. Fresno County is regularly ranked one the highest ag-producing counties in the US, and is a great market for Suncrest to grow its farm lending portfolio.”

Before Alcorn joined with Suncrest he was the chief of the Field Inspection Department of the Western United States, for Rabobank. He was there in a variety of capacities from 2005. Prior to his stint at Rabobank he worked for the Anderson Clayton Corporation as a Loan Officer. Before joining ACC Alcorn worked in farm management as the Almond Crop Manager for Harris Farms and the Ranch Manager for Clark Brothers.

Cal Poly Student Proposes Cost-Saving Plan to Help Small Farmers Recruit Workers

Fourth-year agribusiness major at Cal Poly Jose Alvarez was recognized by the California Legislature for his proposal to streamline the federal H-2A visa program.

Alvarez, who is scheduled to graduate soon, submitted his idea in the national Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences annual conference last spring in Jacksonville, Florida. He was representing Cal Poly’s Latinos in Agriculture Club.

His business pitch is called “Together in Agriculture for a Greater Good.” It uses a nonprofit model that would reduce costs for small ranchers and farmers to hire a professional who would complete the federal H-2A visa program applications.

“In theory, it would start as a pilot program in California, where essentially the program would subsidize the cost of using the H-2A visa program,” Alvarez said. “Usually, big farmers are the ones that use that because it’s costly, time-consuming, has government regulations and the cost goes to the farmer.”

The H-2A visa program was first launched in the 1980s. It allows foreign nationals to come into the US only temporarily for seasonal agricultural work. It was created to respond to the shortage of native agricultural workers.

There is time-consuming paper work process needed to process an H-2A visa, which larger farms and ranchers out-source to private contractors.

The program would do the paperwork and reduce the costs, and cut out middlemen and contractors,” he said. “I was focused on smaller farmers and allowing them to use a similar service.”
In addition to this simple cost-saving aspect of the proposal, Alvarez also added the idea of recruiting illegal immigrants who are already living in the country, but having a difficult time finding work.

This would reduce the pressure and inconvenience of recruiting workers outside the country.

“You have to find these workers and do recruiting, so I thought, ‘Why not let people already illegally here in the U.S. apply for this program, too?’

California Farmland Growing Electricity Instead of Food

California Solar Farms

California Solar Farm

By the end of the decade California is hoping that 100 percent of its electricity needs, even on a hot summer day, will come from renewable forms of energy.  In order to achieve this goal the state legislated that by the year 2020 at least 33 percent of all electricity will come from the sun. To get to that goal much of the land now being used as farmland will need to be transformed into solar farms, land whose use is dedicated not to growing food, but to housing technology capable of transforming the sun’s rays into energy.

At the moment there are about 227 projects in the California bureaucratic pipeline on their way to approval as solar farms. The most desirable real estate that developers are in the market for is flat farmland located close to power transmission lines. Fears however are surfacing about how much of California’s farmland is being taken out of service for growing food and being diverted as a source of energy for computers, heating, air conditioning, and other power users of electricity.

“We’ve been trying to get a handle on the extent of this for quite a while now,” said Ed Thompson of American Farmland Trust, which monitors how much of the nation’s farmland is absorbed by development.

“I’d love to say we have all of that information, but we really don’t,” said Molly Penberth, manager of the land resource protection division. “We’re going to play catch up getting that information, particularly in the San Joaquin Valley.”

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