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FCC Young Farmer loan helps Ontario family's dream come to life

Nov 30, 2020
Photo courtesy: Egg Farmers of Ontario
Photo pre-COVID

Colin and Nicole Vyn are FCC customers and first-generation Ontario egg farmers. Their family farm includes their three children who are ages 11, 8 and 6.

Each morning at 6 a.m., as the lights come on in the barn, Colin appreciates what he sees. “It’s like a sunrise, the hens start clucking as if they are in a choir, it’s a special moment.”

Before there were any eggs to collect or hens to care for, the couple had an existing cash crop operation and a desire to diversify.

“We started the egg operation dream in 2015 when, one night after the kids went to bed, Nicole and I were talking about what else we could do on the farm. I said ‘What about eggs?’. She said ‘Yes! I can pack the eggs and look after the hens.’ and a year later we built the barn,” Colin explains. “Of course, the real secret to my success was to marry way out of my league. When I’m in the fields, Nicole runs the entire egg farm herself.”

FCC Young Farmer Loan

The Vyns also needed the cash flow to get cracking with those eggs. They turned to their lending partner, FCC, to help finance their dream. Their Relationship Manager recommended the Young Farmer Loan. This loan allows farmers under age 40 to borrow up to $1 million to purchase a farm or agriculture related assets with 5-year preferential variable or fixed rates.

“The Young Farmer loan was a great product and an important part of the $3 million loan mix, $1 million for the barn and $2 million for quota. It allowed me to do the planning our family needed to get started and be successful.”

In a supply-managed industry, Nicole and Colin had to apply to buy quota for the size of operation they wanted.

“At the time we thought we would be bidding for years because there was little quota available. We had eight different numbers that we thought might work. We threw them all in a hat and had our three-year-old at the time pick one out. It wasn’t the one I would have sent in, but it hit. We got an email from the Egg Farmers of Ontario that we had been successful in bidding on 4,000 units. It was a very happy moment.”

They now have 10,000 hens with the capacity to add 5,000 more. One day they would like to add a pullet (young hen) barn to the operation. It’s a love of agriculture that keeps these young farmers dreaming about what’s next.

“We have this passion to produce an egg and it’s just awesome to see it come together. You take care of the hens, you go to bed and you get up in the morning and voila, there’s an egg.”

It takes a team to build a dream

Colin says there are no self-made people in agriculture. The community is a true team, and he counts FCC as an important part of his support system, including his Relationship Manager, Dragos Vasiliu, and Relationship Management Associate, Liz Demers. He noted how Liz came out to the barn as the construction was being completed “just to say hi and offer encouragement and support”.

“I’ve been fairly aggressive so without FCC I would still be working my day job which I quit in 2008 to farm full-time. FCC is hands down my lender of choice. Don’t tell my RM that, though; I don’t want him to think he can charge me more,” Colin laughs. “Everyone I’ve ever worked with at FCC has been excellent. I give credit to the RMs and all the people behind the scenes, like the Loans Analysts; it truly is a team effort at FCC.”

Dragos is happy to reinforce the good things happening at the Vyn’s operation. “The Vyn family is very committed to their egg operation. Colin has a solid business education, performs a monthly financial analysis, and keeps an eye out for industry learning events. I truly care about their success. It’s a relationship based on respect. I also try to understand the current state of their operation, what their long-term goals are and look for opportunities where my team and I can add value to their operation.”

Dragos says the FCC Young Farmer loan provides needed support for passionate young farmers like the Vyn family.

“FCC shares the risk of an operation in its infancy with the young farmer and acts as a true partner, making their dreams come true, which is very rewarding. I have a different approach when working with young farmers compared to those with more experience. I provide an overview of the lending process, share important aspects from a risk perspective, plus inform them of available solutions, products and learning events which are tailored to young farmers.”

Aside from the early mornings, Colin says their egg operation is truly a dream come true and a celebration of what they love: family, animals and the agriculture community.

“Money is the last thing I want but it’s the first thing I need. What we are really passionate about is food production and taking care of animals.”

Colin and Nicole are already thinking about their long-term plan. “I’m 37 and I need to be making plans for a sustainable farming operation, so it’s ready for the next generation. It would be an honour to have my kids carry on the farm.”

Like FCC, the Vyns are in it for the long haul, evolving their farming operation to match the needs of their family and the industry. At FCC, we‘re proud to offer them the partnership they need to help them thrive and one day see the next generation turning on the barn lights for the dawn of a new day.  

“It’s best to celebrate life while you’re here and agriculture is a way to do that, it’s a pleasure to be a part of this community and have FCC as our lender of choice.”

Get to know the Vyn family’s operation with this Egg Farmers of Ontario video.