F&M Bank to Host VBA Bank Day Student Scholarship Program in March

F&M Bank is excited to partner again with the Virginia Bankers Association Education Foundation (VBA) to offer your seniors a unique scholarship opportunity on March 19, 2024 called Bank Day.

What is Bank Day?

The third Tuesday in March was declared Bank Day by the Virginia General Assembly in 1991.  Through this program, high school seniors learn about banking, financial services, career opportunities within the banking industry, and the vital role banks play in their communities.  From their experience, the students are required to write essays on their experiences. Thirteen scholarships will be awarded based on the essays.

Students will have access to a VBA-created Bank Day resource webpage during the month of March. This resource page will house relevant information that students will need to research to complete their essays for a chance to win college scholarships. F&M Bank will also be hosting students in-person, 9:00am-1:00pm on Tuesday, March 19, for an opportunity to learn more about our bank, the banking industry in Virginia, how we support our community, and financial career opportunities. More information about this gathering will be shared with students upon registration.

How much scholarship money is available?

A total of $26,000 will be awarded to twelve students across the Commonwealth.

  • Six honorable mention winners, each winning a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Six regional winners, each winning a $2,500 scholarship.
  • One of the regional winners will also be named the statewide winner, earning an extra $5,000 scholarship for a total of $7,500 in college scholarships!

How can your students participate?

To participate, students must be currently enrolled as seniors in a Virginia high school with cumulative GPAs of 3.0 or higher. Interested students must register online by March 3rd through the VBA using the following link: VBA Bank Day Scholarship Program – 2024 Student Registration Form (formpl.us).

Contact marketing@fmbankva.com for more information!

6 Key Metrics For Your Small Business

Running a small business can be challenging. Knowing what metrics to track can help you get on the right path and stay there. In this article, we’ll explain the most important metrics you can measure for your small business in Virginia.

Track Sales Revenue

Knowing how much money you’re bringing in is vital for any business. Revenue, also known as top-line income, means the amount of money your business makes before deducting expenses.

Tracking your sales revenue on a month-over-month basis can help you measure your business’s success and ROI on marketing campaigns. It will also alert you to signs that your sales have started declining.

How to track sales

  • Define the steps involved in your sales process. What needs to happen before a deal gets closed?
  • Use a CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) to keep track of leads and where they are in the sales funnel.
  • Prioritize a quick response to online form submissions.
  • Based on the data you collect from tracking your sales, look for ways to increase the number of sales you make.

CRM Infographic

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

Of course, increasing sales doesn’t come without costs. That’s why our next metric looks at the cost of acquiring each new customer. This includes sales and marketing efforts, as well as physical assets (property, equipment, etc.) required to close a sale.

To calculate Customer Acquisition Cost, divide Total Marketing Costs (MCC) by Total Customers Acquired. This will give you the estimated cost of each customer acquired.

You can compare the cost per customer to the lifetime value of customers. A good rule of thumb is to spend no more than 33% of lifetime value on customer acquisition.

If you find you’re spending too much on acquiring a new customer who gives your business limited lifetime value, you can try reducing your marketing spend and focus on customer retention and upsells instead. Make sure you’re giving customers a reason to return to your business again and again.

Net Profit Margin

Net profit margin, also known as net margin, measures the percentage of sales revenue that becomes profit. This is an important indicator of your business’s financial health. Calculating net profit margin will help you evaluate the success of your marketing and sales efforts and forecast future profits based on sales revenue.

To calculate net profit margin, subtract the costs of doing business (cost of goods sold, operating expenses, interest, and taxes) from revenue and then divide that number by revenue, multiplying by 100 to convert the answer into a percentage.

When it comes to net profit margin, 10% is considered good and 20% is high. If your margin is lower than 10%, look for ways to improve it. In general, this requires you to find the right balance between increasing sales (which takes a certain amount of investment) and reducing expenses (which can lead to bad outcomes if taken too far).

Customer Retention Rate

This metric tracks the percentage of customers who buy from you more than once within a given time period. Customer retention is an important metric to track because gaining new customers is more expensive than retaining existing ones. And the more engaged your customers are, the more likely they are to try new products or services and keep spending more money on your business. This is why just a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profit by 25% or more.

To calculate your customer retention rate, (((CE-CN)/CS)) X 100.

  • CE = number of customers at the end of a defined time period, such as 1 year
  • CN = number of new customers acquired during the same time period
  • CS = number of clients at the start of the time period

If you want to improve customer loyalty, work on providing better customer service and offering the highest quality products or services.

hand holding magnet out of a computer towards stick figures

Gross Profit Margin

Gross profit margin is related to your gross profit, but it looks at your financial profit as a percentage. Tracking your gross profit margin will help you truly understand how your business is performing. If your gross profit margin continues to climb over time, it’s a good indicator of financial health. The higher your gross profit margin, the more you are keeping from each sales dollar (as opposed to the costs of doing business).

You can calculate gross profit margin by subtracting the cost of goods sold from net sales and then dividing that number by net sales.

If you want to increase your gross profit margin, look for ways to reduce operating expenses while maintaining pricing or increase prices without also increasing the cost of doing business. Where can you add efficiencies or boost productivity?

Customer Conversion Rates

This metric looks at the number of leads or prospects who turn into paying customers. Customer conversion rate can help you assess your sales team’s performance or the quality of the service or product you offer.

To calculate customer conversions, divide monthly new leads by monthly new customers.

With a low or stagnant conversion rate, there are some variables you can look at:

  • Products or services offered
  • Sales staff
  • Website experience
  • Social Media prescence
  • Customer reviews

Multiple calls to action

About Section

Headquartered in the Shenandoah Valley, F&M Bank is proud to be a Virginia tradition since 1908. We are committed to the success of our small business customers, including agricultural operations, nonprofits, and other business ventures. Learn more about our business banking solutions and contact us to learn more about how we can help your company grow and thrive.

Safeguarding Your Finances: Protecting Yourself from Holiday Season Scams and Frauds

As the holiday season approaches, it’s important to be aware of the increased risk of frauds and scams that banks often witness during this time. Unfortunately, cybercriminals take advantage of the festive spirit and heightened online shopping activity to target unsuspecting individuals. F&M Bank offers an array of security features and tips to help you protect your identity and accounts.  In this blog post, we will explore the common scams and frauds that occur during the holiday season and provide you with practical tips to protect your personal and financial information.

safe shopping transaction alerts

  1. Be Wary of Phishing Attempts

Phishing emails and text messages are a common method used by fraudsters to trick people into revealing sensitive information. Be cautious of unexpected emails or messages asking for personal details, login credentials, or credit card information. Remember, reputable organizations will never ask for such information via email or text.

  1. Shop on Secure Websites:

Before making any online purchase, ensure that the website is secure. Look for the padlock symbol in the address bar and the “s” – When paying online, check the URL to ensure it begins with “https://”. The “s” at the end indicates a secure connection. Additionally, check that the name of the web page does not contain spelling errors or strange characters.  Avoid making transactions on unsecured or suspicious websites, as they may be designed to steal your information.

  1. Use Strong and Unique Passwords:

Protect your accounts by using strong, unique passwords for each online platform you use. Avoid using easily guessable passwords or reusing them across multiple websites. Consider using a password manager to securely store and generate complex passwords.

  1. Stay Updated on Security Measures:

Familiarize yourself with the security features provided by your bank and payment providers. Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible. Regularly review your account statements and transaction history for any suspicious activity.

  1. Avoid Public Wi-Fi for Financial Transactions:

Public Wi-Fi networks are often unsecured, making it easier for hackers to intercept your data. Refrain from conducting any financial transactions or accessing sensitive information while connected to public networks. Instead, use a trusted and secure network, such as your home Wi-Fi or a personal hotspot.

  1. Be Cautious of Gift Card Scams:

During the holiday season, gift cards are a popular choice for presents. However, be cautious when purchasing or receiving gift cards from unofficial sources. Scammers may tamper with the cards, steal their codes, or sell counterfeit cards. Always buy gift cards from reputable retailers.

  1. Monitor Your Accounts:

Regularly monitor your bank and credit card accounts for any unauthorized transactions. Be sure to install F&M Mobile on your mobile device to monitor your accounts and receive alerts while on the go!

  • Set up transaction alerts to receive notifications whenever a transaction is made. Report any suspicious activity to your financial institution immediately. Purchase alerts are customizable, can be received via email or text, and can be used to confirm legitimate purchases or notify you of suspicious activity. F&M Bank allows you to set transaction and balance alerts within F&M Mobile and Online Banking to stay on top of unexpected transactions on your account.

safe urls safe shopping

The Visa Payment Fraud Disruption also recommends that all consumers consider these safeguards while shopping this holiday season:

  • Do not click on hyperlinks found in emails or text messages from unknown or suspicious sources.
  • Maintain device and software security by keeping software patched and up-to-date.
  • Ensure Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is implemented on all sensitive log in environments.
    • F&M Mobile offers facial and fingerprint recognition on iOS and Android devices.  Enabling this feature on your device further protects your account from being accessed by an untrusted source if your device is misplaced or stolen.
    • With F&M Bank’s Online Banking can detect when you are signing into your account from a new device or browser.  Attempts to access your account from a new or unfamiliar device prompts our system to verify your identity with multifactor authentication and security questions you established at account opening. All information within our Online Banking uses the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol for transferring data. SSL is a cryptosystem that creates a secure environment for the information being transferred between your browser and F&M Bank.
  • Use cybersecurity best practices, including enabling anti-phishing protection on your web browser, adding multi-factor authentication to account log ins, using unique, strong passwords for different accounts, not clicking on unsolicited links, and remain vigilant of the URLs you are visiting.
  • Contact your bank directly by using the phone number or website listed on the back of your card, rather than following guidance from an email, phone call, or text message you received.
  • Never provide a one-time-passcode to a caller, or via email or SMS text message, and do not install Remote Access software unless instructed by a trusted system support provider.
  • Check shipping details on accounts. Be aware of details in the 2nd or 3rd lines of the shipping addresses that might be used to reroute packages.
  • Review bills, bank statements, and credit reports to identify anomalies that could indicate fraud, identity theft, or if someone else has access to your account. Be sure to install F&M Mobile on your mobile device to monitor your accounts and receive alerts while on the go!
  • Update system and application software – Install the latest software on your computer, tablet, or phone.
  • Use tokens when possible. A token can be viewed as a “secret code” that contains no customer or sensitive data, which can be used to transmit a payment. Use of a token for a purchase, or tokenization, is the digital equivalent of using a card’s chip for in-person purchase. The value of the token changes with each transaction, making them more resistant to use by fraudsters.
  • Take advantage of identity and credit monitoring services. These services may be provided by your bank/credit union, credit card provider, employer, or insurance company.
  • Watch for scam indicators in the method of payment being requested: scammers often ask for payment in the form of wire transfers or other money transfers, reloadable or prepaid gift cards, cryptocurrency, or sending cash, since these formats are more difficult to trace.
  • If you suspect a scam, stop and talk to someone you trust about the situation and seek guidance from the organization’s official website before acting on the suspected scammer’s request. Call your local F&M Bank location when you suspect fraud. You can also lock your debit card, and reorder a new one at any time with F&M Mobile and Online Banking.
  • Use caution when posting on social media. Be aware that sharing sensitive personal information can provide criminals with clues to answer your security questions or craft believable, targeted scam messages.

Consumers aren’t the only targets during the holiday season.  Businesses also see an increase in fraud attempts and F&M Bank provides a robust digital suite to help our local businesses safeguard their funds.  Learn more about our business banking recourses here.

While the holiday season is a time of joy and giving, it’s crucial to remain vigilant against frauds and scams. By following these tips, you can protect yourself from falling victim to cybercriminals and safeguard your personal and financial information. Remember, staying informed and adopting safe online practices will make your holiday shopping experience more secure and enjoyable.

Teaching Children About Charitable Giving

Teaching your kids about money early on is always a smart move, but educating them about charitable giving is one of the most important ways to help them develop as compassionate, thoughtful members of their communities.

A recent study found that nearly 50% of those who donated more than $5,000 each year had experienced strong giving traditions within their family as children, so what you teach early on has a real impact later.

If you’re looking to encourage your family with some fun charitable giving this holiday season, take a look at our suggestions for how to get started.

Some of the best ways to teach empathy to small children are making them aware of their own feelings and those of others

Teach Empathy

The foundation of generosity is the ability to empathize with those around you, especially people who may be living in very different circumstances to your own. Start teaching kids this when they’re young, even before they go to school.

Some of the best ways to teach empathy to small children are making them aware of their own feelings and those of others. Make suggestions for helping other people, such as “let’s get your friend a bandaid for their cut” or “I think they’re sad because they lost their toy, let’s get them another one to help them feel better.”

“I feel…” statements are also a good way to teach self-awareness, along with reading books about feelings and openly discussing these as a family.

Lead By Example

Children are often visual learners, so leading by action is one of the best ways to teach a charitable mindset. When you take time to give back and do this frequently, your children will notice and copy your actions. Once you make giving and volunteering a regular part of your life, they’ll naturally start to pick up the habit too.

Include your children in volunteer activities where possible, even something as simple as taking unwanted items to a donation center. Make charitable giving an ongoing conversation in your household.

Talk about times that you’ve helped give back to others, and educate your children on the idea of being fortunate and what that means. You can also explain to them the different ways people can be helped and how both time and money can be valuable resources for those in need.

Consider sponsoring a child in your community or abroad during the holidays.

Adopt a Child for the Holidays

During the holidays, many large organizations (and some local charities too) organize “Adopt a Child” and gift giving events. The Salvation Army Angel Tree is a good example of this, where you can purchase clothing or toys for children in need.

You could also consider sponsoring a child in your community or abroad during the holidays or throughout the year. Organizations like ChildFund help children in 23 countries receive necessities like food, healthcare and education.

Explore Donating

Another option for teaching children a charitable mindset is donations. Collect their old toys once they’ve outgrown them or ask them to choose a toy or two that they no longer want and give them to a local children’s hospital. This is a great way to build empathy in children by helping them connect with other children around their age.

Clothing donations are also good donation opportunities. The SAW Style Clothing Event for Staunton, Augusta, and Waynesboro students regularly helps hundreds of families in the area with essential clothing items all year.

Similarly, a “Stuff the Bus” school supply drive is an excellent way to support local children with their education. The Salvation Army in Staunton and West Augusta County, along with Waynesboro, run these events every year during back-to-school season.

Having a donation box somewhere in your home, particularly somewhere visible like by the front door, can help reinforce a charitable mindset. Encourage your children to routinely go through their belongings and find items they can part with and add to the donation box. Once the box is full, take your items to a donation center together to help children see the impact of their giving.

Matching volunteering roles with your child's interests will help them stay engaged for longer.

Seek Out Volunteer Opportunities

For a more hands-on experience, look for volunteering opportunities that your children can participate in throughout your community. Matching volunteering roles with your child’s interests will help them stay engaged for longer, while still educating them on the importance of giving back.

Soup kitchens, shelters, local places of worship, libraries and schools all frequently need volunteer help for a range of activities and initiatives. For animal-loving children and teens, the Shenandoah Valley Animal Service Center takes volunteers for dog walking, grooming and cleaning all year round.

Positive reinforcement, especially for activities that take time out of their free schedule, is essential for encouraging this charitable behavior. If you see your child doing something helpful for someone else, be sure to praise them and let them know that was a kind action to take.

Divvy Up Allowances

If you give your child a weekly or monthly allowance, this is the perfect opportunity to teach a lifelong lesson about the value of money, hard work, and giving.

Consider a three-bucket approach for your children’s money—some for spending, some for saving, and some for giving. For younger children, you can suggest causes that they may want to give to, while older children should be free to make their own choice.

Labeled jars can be a useful visual, especially for younger children, to reinforce the goal of splitting their money this way. The Greenlight debit card for kids and teens is also a good way to digitize this approach to money. Within the app, allowances can easily be divided into save, give, invest and spend categories.

Charitable giving can, and should, start close to home

Be Neighborly

Charitable giving can, and should, start close to home. Encourage your kids to help your neighbors, particularly elderly ones, with outdoor chores like raking leaves, shoveling snow, or bringing in their heavy grocery bags.

Baking or cooking for your neighbors, especially around the holidays, is a fun opportunity to share food together and brighten someone’s day. Make a pie for Thanksgiving or take a box of holiday cookies over to your neighbor to let them know that you and your children are there for them.

For younger children, “I spy” games while you walk around your neighborhood can be a fun way to encourage them to find places that could use some attention. Picking up litter or cleaning up a spill may not sound fun to a little kid, but making it into a game can quickly incentivize them.

Give Back All Year Round

It’s always important to teach your children about giving back to the community they’re a part of. But your charitable giving doesn’t need to be limited to the Shenandoah Valley.

A giving mindset should be something you’re always thinking and talking about with your family, even when you’re on vacation or away from home. Encourage them to empathize with anyone they meet, wherever that may be, and talk about ways you can support others in need all year round.

Account to Account Transfers

Easily move money between your F&M Bank accounts and your accounts at other banks.

Account to Account Transfers, or A2A Transfers, is a transfer of funds between your account with one financial institution and your account at another financial institution.

  • Automate your savings with recurring transfers
  • Securely transfer funds between business and personal accounts
  • Send funds to your college student

How does it work?

F&M Bank’s online and mobile platform allows you to enroll external accounts with ease.  Newly enrolled accounts will need to be verified before they can be used to transfer funds.

  1. Select Transfers from the main menu, or dashboard on F&M Mobile.

    account to account transfer external transfers

  2. Select +External account from the Transfers screen.
  3. Choose a situation and follow the corresponding steps.
    • Your institution uses multifactor security questions (MFA) to authenticate users. When prompted for the security question, answer it and select Submit. OR
    • Your institution uses two-factor authentication.  When prompted for your password, enter it and select Submit.
  4. Complete the Account name, Routing no., Account no., and Account type fields on the Add external account screen.external transfer fields account to account transfer
  5. Select Submit.
    • If the account is eligible to send inbound transfers to accounts in Banno Online, a message appears saying that two small deposits have been sent to the account and will arrive in 3-5 days.

    • Select OK.
    • Verify your deposit amounts after they appear in your external account(s) to activate external transfers.


Account to Account Transfer FAQs

  • How much does it cost?
    • Inbound transfers (money coming into your F&M Bank account) are free.
    • Outbound transfers (money leaving your F&M Bank account) will incur a $1.00 charge per transfer.
  • How much money can I transfer?
    • Customers can transfer up to $6,000 into their F&M Bank account(s) per day.
    • Outbound transfers are limited to $2,000 per day.
  • When can I make transfers?
    • The external transfer cutoff time is 3:00 PM.  Any transfers submitted after 3:00 PM will be processed on the next business day.
  • How much will the verification amounts be?
    • These micro-deposits will range from $0.01 to $0.99.
      • Clients will have 3 attempts to verify these amounts before needing to begin the process.
      • Micro-deposits not verified within 31 days will no longer be eligible for verification and the customer will need to restart the process.
  • How is this different from Zelle?
    • Zelle is a great platform for sending quick payments to another individual.  Account to Account Transfer allows you to send funds between account you own at different financial institutions.


Details and Impact of the Current US Farm Bill

The most recent farm bill was enacted into law in December 2018, and is currently up for debate in Congress. With rising costs of food, as well as increased production costs for farmers, many people in the Shenandoah Valley are paying close attention to the development of the 2023 Farm Bill.

In this post we’ll give an overview of the diverse array of programs found within the Farm Bill, from nutritional assistance to loan subsidies. We’ll also take a look at what changes could be in store for the 2023 Farm Bill, as congress continues to discuss and develop it in the coming months. But before we delve into that, let’s start with the basics.

Dollar bills in front of wheat

What is the Farm Bill?

The Farm Bill is a comprehensive package of agricultural laws and programs, the first of which was passed in 1933 as part of the New Deal, and called the “Agricultural Adjustment Act,” designed to provide commodity price controls and support for farmers, to keep our food system resilient. Since then, a new bill has been passed every five years. Today, the Farm Bill houses a multitude of farm and food programs designed to not only support farmers, but also provide funding for nutrition (SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, is the largest portion of the farm bill), as well as for compensation for conservation efforts by farmers, and farm and ranch disaster relief.

Revision and reauthorization of the Farm Bill is essential for many programs, including nutritional assistance and commodity support, to continue to be funded. However, other aspects of the Farm Bill, including federal crop insurance, would remain on the books, regardless of whether or not a specific reiteration of the farm bill is approved.

Various root vegetables laid out

What does the Farm Bill Fund?

Three-quarters (75%) of the Farm Bill is devoted to SNAP, providing funding to help feed more than 42 million people, including 1 in 5 children in the U.S. The remaining 25% of Farm Bill funds are allotted for the following uses:

Crop Insurance (9%)

Federal crop insurance is largely paid by farmers through premiums, with subsidies provided through the Farm Bill. While the 2018 bill added more coverage for small and new farmers, many are arguing for more equity and accessibility in the 2023 Farm Bill, especially for farmers with diversified agricultural enterprises.

Commodity Programs (7%)

The main commodity programs include Price Loss Coverage (PLC), Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC), and the Marketing Assistance Loan Program. As the USDA explains, “The Agriculture Risk (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs provide financial protections to farmers from substantial drops in crop prices or revenues and are vital economic safety nets for most American farms.” Virginia currently has approximately 642.3k Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and 503.4k Price Loss Coverage Acres enrolled.

The Marketing Assistance Loan Program, on the other hand, lets farmers use eligible commodities that they have produced as collateral to secure government-issued commodity loans.

Conservation (7%)

Because agricultural enterprises can have a huge environmental impact, and because farms themselves benefit immensely from efforts that conserve and protect soil, water, and air, the Farm Bill also allocates a significant portion of its budget to conservation efforts, through programs through the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). These programs support farmers and ranchers who adopt conservation practices while balancing productivity and conservation benefits. Additionally, NRCS programs aim to make farming opportunities more equitable by increasing access to both land and financial resources for young, beginning, veteran, and underrepresented farmers.

Other (1%)

The remaining 1% funds a large number of other popular USDA programs. These include:

  • USDA direct and guaranteed loans to farmers and ranchers
  • USDA rural development programs, including loans
  • Agricultural research and extension programs
  • Forestry management programs run by USDA’s Forest Service
  • Renewable energy development programs for farms and communities
  • Support and regulation for specialty crops (including hemp), USDA-certified organic foods, and locally produced foods
  • Programs and assistance for livestock and poultry production
  • Support for beginning farmers and ranchers

What is not covered by the Farm Bill?

While the Farm Bill is the most comprehensive piece of farm legislation in the US, it certainly doesn’t cover every regulatory aspect of agriculture, food production, or nutritional support. The following are just a few items not covered by the Farm Bill:

  • Farm workers’ rights and protections
  • FDA food safety
  • WIC program
  • Renewable fuels standards
  • Irrigation water rights
  • Clean Air Act/Clean Water Act

Gavel in front of produce

What are lawmakers’ priorities in 2023?

As the next reiteration of the Farm Bill is being debated and discussed, there are certain concerns that rise to the forefront. Many priorities have been made evident through recent congressional and senate hearings, including increased access to programs and more support for small and mid-sized farmers, greater investment in rural communities, and continued support of nutritional support and conservation programs. Let’s take a closer look at these areas of focus.

Improved Access to Farm Bill Programs and More Support for Smaller Farmers

While 89% of US farms are small farms, funding provided through the farm bill is notoriously harder for small farms to access, and many smaller farms struggle to make ends meet. In fact, only 41% of small farms turn a profit each year, with 64% working an additional job.

In her opening statement at the hearing on Commodity Programs, Crop Insurance, and Credit  for the 2023 Farm Bill, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, explained how the next Farm Bill can help small and beginning farmers. She pledged to “continue to focus on expanding and strengthening crop insurance for all farmers,” as well as improve accessibility to “loans, micro loans, and training to help new farmers get started in agriculture” emphasizing that “these programs need to be accessible and equitable to work for all farmers–from major commodities, to specialty crops, to dairy and livestock and everything in between.”

Fund and Expand Existing Conservation Programs

On Mar 1, 2023, Terry J. Cosby, Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), testified before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, presenting the success of the 2018 Farm Bill in its voluntary conservation programs that work to preserve private lands and protect ecosystems and waterways, and arguing for the continued funding of NRCS programs. Cosby provided many examples of the bill’s successes at conserving natural resources and combating climate change, including the reduction of “more than 27 million metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MMTCO2e) in estimated emissions” in 2020.

In 2023, additional funding and support for these conservation programs will likely be a top priority for many members of congress. As House ranking member David Scott explained in press release previewing Farm Bill Priorities, “Our farm bill conservation title programs are oversubscribed, and we need to increase the available technical assistance to work with our agriculture producers.”

Provide Support for Rural Communities

As the National League of Cities points out, “a significant portion of Farm Bill provisions are tailored to help underserved rural and small communities” via the Rural Development Title, which funds water and wastewater, energy, broadband, and electric infrastructure programs.

So why is rural support so integral to the Farm Bill? Firstly, 1 in 5 Americans live in rural areas, where infrastructure, from roads to broadband access, falls significantly behind urban and suburban regions. Additionally, agriculture plays a crucial role in the success of communities. In their recent post, Farm Bill 101, Farm Aid explains: “over half of all new jobs created in deeply rural areas come from small business ventures, and most rural areas are dependent on agriculture as a large sector that drives their local economy.” Not only do these regions desperately need revitalization efforts, the Farm Bill makes a logical vehicle for them.

Maintain Support of SNAP

With the rollback of pandemic-era increases in SNAP benefits, many are looking to the Farm Bill for continued or expanded support of these highly-used public assistance programs. In Virginia alone, over 809,000 individuals receive nearly 60 million meals each year via SNAP.

Heated debate is expected over SNAP benefits, including employment requirements in addition to the monthly benefit amount. However, with inflation driving the cost of food prices, it is unlikely for benefits to be cut—and most Americans prefer an expansion. Many influential agricultural organizations have also come out in support of maintenance of SNAP benefits, including the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) and the American Farm Bureau Federation.

How F&M Bank Can Help Support Your Virginia Farm

As a trusted agricultural partner, F&M Bank strives to support farmers throughout Shenandoah Valley, helping them find the right financing to maintain and grow their operation, as well as offering the essential products and services to manage their day-to-day farm business banking needs.

Whether you’re just starting your farm or have been farming for decades, our experienced banking associates can work with you to navigate national farm policy changes and develop financial management solutions that keep your agricultural business running smoothly and efficiently, no matter what. Visit one of our locations today to see what we can do for you!

How We Protect Our Customers

At F&M Bank, we want you to know we are here for you, as we have been for nearly 115 years. Our focus is on meeting the needs of customers in the Shenandoah Valley through disciplined lending, investing, and management as evidenced by our 5-star Bauer rating.

How is F&M Bank different than the two banks that failed?

While others concentrate on Silicon Valley, our attention is on the Shenandoah Valley. Right where it has been for 115 years. F&M Bank, along with most U.S. banks, operates completely differently than California-based Silicon Valley Bank and New York-based Signature Bank, the two recent bank failures. Silicon Valley Bank focused on high-tech start-ups and Signature Bank operated a payment platform for processing cryptocurrency. By comparison, F&M’s efforts are focused on helping small businesses, local companies, not-for-profits, farmers, neighbors, and friends in the Shenandoah Valley, and we have a long history to prove it.

What is being done to protect depositors at those banks from losing their money?

In responding to what happened to these two banks, the Federal Reserve, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and the FDIC acted swiftly and confidently to communicate that no depositor at the two banks would lose funds due to the failures. Deposit amounts over and above those insured by the FDIC are covered by the Depositors Insurance Fund (DIF). DIF is funded through quarterly fees charged to member banks, not by taxpayers. Within hours, the Federal Reserve also announced the Bank Term Funding Program (BTFP), which was created to support American businesses and households by making additional funding available to eligible depository institutions to help assure they can meet the needs of all their depositors.

Where can I get information about FDIC insurance?

The FDIC has a helpful and informative website. Specifically this information is available at:

Is there a service that can help deposit my funds at other banks to make sure all of my deposited funds are covered, if they are in excess of the FDIC insurance limit?

First, it is important to know that while the general FDIC insurance limit is $250,000, your coverage may be higher depending on how ownership of your accounts is set up. Your F&M banker can help you calculate and understand your coverage, and you can access the FDIC’s “EDIE” (Electronic Deposit Insurance Estimator) calculator at https://edie.fdic.gov/calculator.html

And yes, F&M Bank offers the service that places your funds on account with us at other banks to increase your insurance coverage. You can learn about the Insured Cash Sweep (ICS) service and CDARS (Certificate of Deposit Account Registry Service) at: https://www.fmbankva.com/multi-million-dollar-fdic-protection/

Who should I contact if I have other questions?

You can call our corporate office at (540) 896-8941, reach out to us online, or connect with an associate from a branch location. We are here to answer your questions.

F&M Bank Announces Officer Promotions

PRESS RELEASE: Employee Promotions

For Immediate Release

Farmers & Merchants Bank and its Board of Directors would like to congratulate the following individuals on their Officer promotions effective December 16, 2022.


Vice President: 

Mary Pavlovskaya – Business Deposit Services Officer

Assistant Vice President: 

Ben Thompson – Commercial Relationship Manager

Daniel Scott – Commercial Relationship Manager, Ag Division

Bank Officer: 

Dianne Nelson – Branch Coordinator

Katie Robertson – Branch Coordinator


For more information, please email marketing@fmbankva.com.


F&M Bank is headquartered in the Shenandoah Valley, with a network spanning the I-81/64 corridors from Winchester to Waynesboro and beyond. The only publicly traded organization based in Rockingham County, the Companyʼs core values of enthusiasm, flexibility, responsiveness, community, and fun drive its corporate philanthropy, volunteerism, and local decision-making. The bank supports clients with a robust digital banking suite, full-service branches, and essential services like mortgage loans, title services, wealth management, business banking, and agricultural lending. With philanthropic efforts totaling over $300,000 annually, and a team dedicated to volunteering, our responsibility is to provide a bright future right here.

Digging Deep: Connected Communities Inc.

May was National Mental Health Month, and we were happy to spend some time with Connected Communities Inc., a local organization that specializes in offering therapeutic counseling, mentorship programs, and trauma therapy to youth ages 6-17 and young adults/adults.

Throughout the pandemic, discussions surrounding mental health and self-care have become more mainstream.  Employers, workers, and family members have been challenged to adjust their routines, and methods of communication, and remain safe while following a seemingly ever-changing standard of safety.

One of our clients has been in the trenches providing aid to this exact topic.  Connected Communities was formed by a team of individuals that saw an opportunity to improve the lives of children and families in their neighborhoods.  The organization launched in July of 2017 by a small team with big goals to introduce a different approach to aiding youth and adolescent mental health.

We recently sat down with the founders of Connected Communities to learn more about its mission and about its success.

Mission & Value Proposition

“Over the course of our careers, we witnessed so many children who needed an outlet, a trusted person to confide in who were simply left out.  Counseling can be expensive, and many programs aren’t tailored to be readily available to children in poor environments.”Tavan Mair    

Seeing the need to serve children and families that institutional programs had failed, Connected Communities seeks to connect with these individuals and provide a more customized experience.  They actively support the most difficult cases to fix generational systems that aren’t serving the minority demographic. Institutional programs, while necessary and supportive, can be limited by standardized structures that may not suit the needs of every client.

Connected Communities seeks to meet its communities where they are and to create a tailored approach for each client. While many organizations discharge clients after missing a couple of sessions, Connected Communities subscribes to a different philosophy.  The team understood its client base dealt with overwhelming obstacles and the last thing it wanted to do was take away an outlet from struggling individuals.

“We simply don’t discharge clients very often.  We serve kids and families that are juggling an array of scheduling and transportation obstacles.  We see kids struggling with substance abuse, threatening family lives, and assist parents who simply want a better life for their families.  Instead of discharge, we continue communication with clients who miss appointments and keep building trust.  That’s how change happens.”Megan Slaughter, Human Resources + Finance Director

Connected Communities currently maintains a short waiting list.  Many institutions have a three-six month waiting list which may increase panic in clients desperate for assistance.  The organization maps its hiring strategy to meet demands and prevent a long wait period for any client needing to be onboarded.


Counseling During the Pandemic

Connected Communities began assisting its home market, Frederick County, in 2017 but officially opened a location near Old Town Winchester in May of 2019.  Its success after this was due to a unique value proposition just before the onset of the impending pandemic that surged in 2020.

Connected Communities, with the rest of the world, faced the difficulties of the pandemic.  Many organizations transitioned to virtual-only counseling. While virtual sessions were offered, this team understood that many of their clients didn’t have access to reliable internet and technology to maintain a regular treatment plan.  They also felt an opportunity to provide a haven for clients who needed an escape from their home environment. They safely continued in-person counseling throughout the pandemic to accommodate their community’s needs.

The need to maintain a sense of regularity became of utmost importance to the counselors that work with Connected Communities.

“There are families who drastically suffered during the pandemic.  Families who went without income, children who couldn’t keep up with schoolwork that was virtual, and parents who were trying to explain why life was different now due to the spread of COVID.”  -Krystal DeWalt, Clinical Director

Connected Communities also launched a program, Home For Now, to provide a pandemic-safe environment for students in underserved areas, helping them to stay on track with school while still having a safe outlet with their counselors. This program is still active and continues to support students who are readjusting to daily in-person school.


F&M Bank understands that any successful organization that makes this level of impact does so with the foundation of an incredible team.  Tavan Mair founded the organization after many years of serving in various state and local programs aiming to help troubled youth.  While he modestly attributes the organization’s success to his team, Tavan’s passion for making an impact in his community, and his tenacity to overcome adversity, is what inspired so many of his team to join his initiative.

“We’ve implemented a value-driven hiring policy.  In order for us to reach the lives we are called to; we feel it’s important to hire teammates that share in our values.” –Mair

Krystal DeWalt met Mair while working together at a different organization and built a mutual bond over shared concerns  where their industry was lacking in terms of helping families of various minority and income statuses.  “Tavan really is one-of-a-kind.  We met several years ago and discussed how we can set a better standard in the industry, or at least close more gaps.”

The organization has employees who have relocated to join the team simply because they wholeheartedly believe in its mission.  Connected Communities built its team to represent the communities they serve.  They found it important to have counselors that children could relate to and had shared backgrounds.

“One of my favorite moments while working here happened just a few weeks ago.  We were sponsoring an event for troubled youth in a nearby town on a Saturday night.  It was calling for bad weather and many other organizations backed out, but we wanted to show up.  The number of Connected Communities staff that showed up and gave up their rainy Saturday night to make an impact on kids assured me that I’m in the right place.  I work with a team who genuinely cares.”Slaughter


More About the Organization

Connected Communities specializes in offering therapeutic counseling, mentorship programs, and trauma therapy to youth ages 6-17 and young adults/adults.  With a footprint spanning from Winchester to Augusta County, the organization is actively growing to meet the needs of each neighborhood it expands into.

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health issues, or are facing a troubling time, you can contact Connected Communities at info@cciwinchester.com or call 540-404-5985.