Compeer Financial, a Farm Credit cooperative based in the Upper Midwest, has committed $1.9 million in grants and scholarships over the next five years through its Agriculture and Rural Initiative to 30 post-secondary colleges.

The shortage of skilled workers is an ongoing challenge for farmers and other agriculture-related businesses. Compeer Financial, an organization whose mission is enriching agriculture and rural America, is serious about addressing the problem and is putting significant financial support behind the effort.

Compeer is partnering with community and technical colleges to bolster vocational agriculture education programs and make them more accessible to young adults. Last week, representatives from Compeer’s Fund for Rural America Board met with 30 post-secondary colleges to announce the first major gift from the Agriculture and Rural Initiative. The $1.9 million in grants and scholarships will go toward educational training for young adults pursuing a future in agricultural-related careers.

South Central College (SCC) is among the colleges selected and is excited about the opportunities the partnership with Compeer will provide for students, farmers and businesses in the area. Through the program SCC will be eligible to receive direct grants to support the college’s Agribusiness programs as well as $12,500 in student scholarships, with two $1,250 scholarships awarded annually over the next five years.

“South Central College is grateful for this generous contribution to agribusiness education here at South Central College and throughout the state,” said SCC President Annette Parker. “With agriculture’s position as a major industry in Minnesota, this investment by Compeer Financial will make a difference not only to our students but to the agriculture sector and our region as a whole.”

South Central College students beginning or continuing in an Agribusiness program this Fall Semester are eligible to receive scholarships. Scholarships at SCC and other southern Minnesota colleges are being administered by the Minnesota State Southern Agricultural Center of Excellence. Information on the application process will be available at

The Agriculture and Rural Initiative was created by the Compeer Financial Board of Directors in 2019 to make signature investments in programs and projects that directly address the needs of farmers and others who work in agriculture. Compeer Financial clients often list workforce development among their highest concerns.

“The agriculture industry offers an array of career opportunities, and jobs are waiting for those with the right skills,” said John Monson, Chief Mission and Marketing Officer. “We’re excited to work with our partners in higher education to provide opportunities for more young adults in rural communities and enhance training programs to prepare them for a successful future in agriculture.”

Compeer’s investment will be in the form of $1.6 million in grants and $375,000 in scholarships. Technical and community colleges participating in the effort serve 144 counties in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin making up Compeer’s territory and have an established agriculture education program or pathway. Colleges may use the grants for equipment and technology; student recruitment, outreach, retention and professional development; and teacher training.

Each partner college will also receive two annual $1,250 scholarships to award to students enrolled in the school’s agriculture program or pathway over the next five years. 

In addition to extending financial support, Compeer will connect partner colleges with team members who are alumni or live in the area to serve as resources for teachers, students and advisors. Through these relationships, Compeer can also be a conduit between graduates looking to put their training to work in the agriculture industry with clients who have jobs available.

“Compeer is a strong supporter of high school programs and organizations focused on agricultural education for youth,” said Roger Newell, a trustee of the Fund for Rural America. “This new area of focus will help take those students with a passion for agriculture and prepare them for life-long, rewarding careers.”

About the Agriculture and Rural Initiative
The Agriculture and Rural Initiative was created by Compeer Financial’s Board of Directors in 2019 to make signature investments in programs and projects that are high priorities to member-owners. To date, $7.5 million has been invested in the Initiative.  In 2020, the Initiative provided $300,000 to support pandemic relief efforts.

The initiative’s current priorities are on efforts related to rural infrastructure: food processing and supply chain, and vocational education: agricultural skills and workforce. The Agriculture and Rural Initiative is managed by the Compeer Financial Fund for Rural America Board of Trustees, who oversee the organization’s corporate giving efforts. More information about Compeer’s corporate giving efforts can be found at

About Compeer Financial
Compeer Financial is a member-owned Farm Credit cooperative serving and supporting agriculture and rural communities. The $23.7 billion organization provides loans, leases, risk management and other financial services throughout 144 counties in Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Based in the Upper Midwest, Compeer Financial exists to champion the hopes and dreams of rural America, while providing personalized service and expertise to clients and the agriculture industry.

Compeer Financial is the third largest cooperative of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of lending institutions supporting agriculture and rural communities with reliable, consistent credit and financial services. Learn more about Compeer Financial.

About South Central College
South Central College (SCC) is a comprehensive community and technical college that is part of the Minnesota State system with campuses in Faribault and North Mankato. SCC is an Affirmative Action Equal Opportunity Employer/Educator.

South Central College offers the following agribusiness programs that lead to a diploma or associate of applied science degree: Agribusiness Production, Agribusiness Service and Management, Agribusiness Office Specialist/Manager, Agribusiness Service Technician and Agriculture Education Technology. The college also has a number of certificate programs, including Ag Chemical Applicator Technician, AgSpark Agronomy, Professional Swine Manager and Sustainable Microfarming.