Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples today announced the addition of two members to the Texas Agricultural Finance Authority Board (TAFA) who will represent the interests of young farmers. The new board members are Will Coward and John Paul Dineen III.

“Young farmers are becoming an endangered species,” Commissioner Staples said. “The average age of a Texas farmer is 59, higher than the national average. Skyrocketing land prices and high input and equipment costs are among the challenges faced by young farmers and ranchers. Having two outstanding individuals on the TAFA board who personally understand these challenges will help better serve and possibly recruit young Texans to this noble profession.”

Will Coward is a fourth-generation rancher from Coryell County. He served as a director on the Coryell County Farm Bureau for six years and has served on the Texas Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Committee the past two years. Coward and his wife, Becky, won the 2006 Texas Farm Bureau Excellence in Agriculture Award.

John Paul Dineen III grew up in Waxahachie where he developed a lawn care business at age 11 and had full-time employees, equipment and trucks by the time he reached high school. Dineen converted the lawn care business into a custom farming business and currently operates a 1,200-acre dry land row crop operation in Ellis County that includes a small cow/calf herd. He is also a member of the Ellis County Farm Bureau Board of Directors.

TAFA was created in 1987 as a public authority within the Texas Department of Agriculture. In 2008, TDA began working with the Texas Legislature on the development of a new strategic vision for the program, which was passed into law during the 2009 Legislative Session. Today, TAFA works in partnership with banks or other agricultural lending institutions to provide financial assistance to creditworthy individuals and agriculture-related businesses through four programs: the Interest Rate Reduction Program; the Young Farmer Interest Rate Reduction Program; the Agricultural Loan Guarantee Program; and the Young Farmer Grant Program.

The TAFA board is comprised of the Commissioner of Agriculture; the Director of the Institute for International Agribusiness Studies at Prairie View A&M University; and nine members appointed by the Commissioner.

For more information about the Texas Agricultural Finance Authority, please visit TDA’s Web site at www.TexasAgriculture.gov.