Farming is a way of life and a family tradition for Gerardo. His father farmed South Texas land. Gerardo ventured off to try other work, but came back to the family business. While Gerardo’s father worked for other farmers, Gerardo wanted to be his own boss.
“I had a little money saved up and I started buying equipment little by little,” Gerardo said. “Every year, I would get equipment and make payments on my equipment. It’s been a struggle in the past few years, though.”
To sustain his family and himself, Gerardo works full-time in an office, but he farms when he’s not working in the office. Gerardo currently has a crop of alfalfa. In the past, he grew livestock grass. And before the drought, one of his most profitable crops was chili peppers.
At the start of the recession, Gerardo did well investing in a versatile and powerful John Deere tractor that could plow, chisel and level land. Small farmers passing by his 52-acre plot saw him leveling land with ease and asked him to do the same with their land. There were so many requests that leveling land became a significant source of income for his company, A. Custom Work.
But when Texas got hit with the worst single year drought in history in 2011, Gerardo said as land in South Texas cracked and parched up, his business dried up too. And when the drought continued in 2012 and was sustained through 2013, Gerardo said he faced losing his tractor.
While attending a workshop with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension in El Paso, Gerardo met a loan officer from Accion Texas Inc., who advised him on how to refinance the loan into smaller more affordable payments. Using his John Deere swather as collateral, Gerardo obtained a $5,625 loan from Accion to pay off his tractor.
“I probably would have lost my tractor if I hadn’t gotten this loan from Accion Texas,” Gerardo said.
Gerardo is toughing out the drought because farming is a way of life and a family tradition. When the drought clears up, he hopes to start growing chili again.
“My plan is to learn ways to improve myself,” Gerardo said. “We are all hoping the water situation improves, too.”
LiftFund. (www.liftfund.com) is an award-winning nonprofit organization (previously known as Accion Texas) with a mission to provide credit and loans to small and start-up businesses that have limited or no access to credit from commercial sources. Established in 1994 in San Antonio, LiftFund has helped Texas and Louisiana entrepreneurs strengthen their businesses, stabilize and increase their incomes, create employment, and contribute to the economic revitalization of their communities. Learn more at www.liftfund.com.