Name change has many advantages

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Published: May 18,2009

In January, Land Bank South shifted gears, evolving into a full-service lender and changing its name to Southern AgCredit. Southern AgCredit claims there will be plenty of advantages in its new make up. The feedback from members has been positive as Southern AgCredit expands to help individuals and the community.

Southern AgCredit, a cooperative lender specializing in rural land loans, now also offers agricultural operating loans. The association added the ability to provide short-term financing for operating and equipment loans in addition to long-term loans secured by rural real estate it was previously providing its stockholders.

Benjamin Elliot, vice president, operations, Southern AgCredit, said, “Our short-term lending products are very competitive and our programs offer many different ways to accommodate an applicant’s request.”

He added that no matter what the members need for a loan, Southern AgCredit can provide an operating loan that provides the funds they need to produce their crop.

Overall, Southern AgCredit shows a positive outlook on their change. “We felt that the name change was necessary in order to better reflect the new suite of loan products we offer.” He expresses that the advantages to the change are that Southern AgCredit now provides “one-stop” shopping for their stockholders’ needs. “We can finance the purchase of the property, the tractor and equipment they need to work on the property, and the operating funds needed to farm.” By increasing the services they offer, the company will be able to increase income, which will increase the amount that can be returned to the stockholders in the form of patronage.

In March, Southern AgCredit mailed patronage checks totaling more than $2.6 million to its customers. The payment represented a portion of the co-op’s 2008 earnings.

“We are always glad to share earnings with the customers who own our business,” says Joe Hayman, Southern AgCredit CEO. “But, it is even better w hen we can provide good news at a time when most financial news is negative.” Elliot goes further to mention that the company sees no disadvantages associated with the change.

The current economic times have also not seemed to trip the company’s change at all.

“The change has enhanced our ability to provide additional services to our stockholders that we previously could not. These services have been able to assist them as they encounter the constant changes caused by the economic conditions,” says Elliot.

Southern AgCredit claims positive feedback. Elliot explains that as its membership experiences the convenience and wide range of new services it can offer, they are very excited about the new role Southern AgCredit will serve in their agricultural operation.

“Our stockholders overwhelmingly approved the plan to add short-term lending to our toolbox of financing solutions,” says Hayman. “We believe that this new line of competitive loan products enhances our ability to meet the needs of our customers.”

Not only is Southern AgCredit all about its members, it seems to be a large supporter of its community. In February, the company announced its plan to award $11,500 in scholarships to college and university students attending schools throughout the association’s 50-county territory. This package contained eleven $500 scholarships to be distributed through the Mississippi Community College Foundation (MCCF), as well as six additional scholarships of $1,000 to be given to university students pursuing a degree in business or agriculture at various institutions through the company’s territory.

Elliot also mentions a few other routes Southern AgCredit is taking to be a community supporter. “The association has always, and continues to be, a strong supporter of 4-H programs, livestock shows, Farm Bureau events and educational programs in the communities we serve. Probably the biggest commitment we have made to the community has been our long-term commitment to provide our services to rural America in all economic times. We continue to provide financial solutions even in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression,” Elliot said.

Contact MBJ staff writer Leslie Galloway at leslie.galloway@msbusiness.com .

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