Meet Southern AgCredit’s Vice President of Lending in Meridian, Mississippi
We are excited to announce that Southern AgCredit is opening a new office in Meridian on June 1, 2022. Stephen Bass is the vice president of lending in the new office.
Learn more about Stephen’s passion for the outdoors and how he can help you reach your land-ownership goals.
Hi, Stephen! What were you doing before you came to Southern AgCredit?
I was working at a commercial bank in Meridian, primarily doing commercial and consumer loans.
You live in Meridian now, but where are you from originally?
I’m originally from Liberty, Mississippi, which is in south Mississippi. I went to college at Mississippi State University then moved to Senatobia when I started working with the MS Land Bank. I’ve had a few other jobs since then so I guess you could say, I’m coming back home to Farm Credit.
Are you an outdoorsman?
Yes, my dad was a hunter and we spent a lot of time in the woods deer hunting when I was a child. As I got older and went to college, we got more involved in duck and turkey hunting. Also, I love to fish. I’d say that fishing and turkey hunting are my favorite hobbies.
While my mom’s side of the family is made of farmers, they were gone before I was born, so I didn’t grow up on a farm. We had some timberland in the family, so I was initially exposed to forestry through that. I’m a registered forester, and at MSU I got a bachelor’s degree in forest management and a master’s degree in agricultural business management.
Rural lending is a great fit for me because I can help people own a piece of land, get outdoors, and enjoy it with their family.
What are your children like?
I have a 9-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter. My son is involved in sports. He plays football, baseball, and basketball. I’ve introduced my son to hunting and fishing and we spend a lot of time outdoors. I want him to enjoy and experience the outdoors as he grows up just like I did. My daughter is less outdoorsy and is involved with theater and plays. I go from deer hunting with my son to building a set for a play with my daughter. I love spending time with my kids and being involved in what they like to do.
We started kayaking now that my kids are old enough to paddle. That’s an outdoor activity that we all enjoy and we can do it together which is fun. We like to take our kayaks to some local lakes in Meridian. We have some buddies with kayaks as well so we’ll meet up with them and let our kids fish and kayak together.
Do you own any recreational land?
We have a hunting lease about 30 minutes from Meridian. On this property, we are fortunate to have a cabin, lakes and places where we can dig for Indian artifacts. I like to get my kids’ friends involved in the outdoors as well so we often stay for the weekend and fish, hunt or dig for arrowheads. Getting kids involved in the outdoors is a good way to connect with your family and friends as well as keep the future of hunting and agriculture alive.
Having a registered forester as a loan officer comes with some real advantages. Can you take a look at a tract and give a customer a forester’s perspective about its condition and value?
Yes. For example, last week I went and looked at some property with a customer. The land was his family’s land and he was interested in buying out the other family members. The property had been neglected so we drove all over the land and discussed how he could actively manage it as a timber investment and for recreation benefits as well.
I think that’s one of the benefits of dealing with Southern AgCredit. All the lenders specialize in different things, so we have a really strong network in place and can reach out to each other when questions come up. I may not know every answer about timberland, but my background and education have allowed me to be connected in the timber industry. I can help borrowers find someone to assist in selling their timber or site prep their property. Whatever they may need to manage their property—I can try to connect those people.
What is the best way for someone looking for hunting and recreational land to find the tract for them?
There are lots of ways to find properties but I’ve found that word of mouth is one of the best ways. Many properties are never listed for sale with a realtor. Often I learn about these properties through my network of landowners, forestry consultants, and people in the timber industry. I always ask the potential buyer to tell me what they’re looking for in a property and what their main focus or goal is then we go from there.
Why should someone finance their land with Southern AgCredit?
Being a customer of Southern AgCredit is more than just having a loan. Since we are a cooperative lender, once you have a loan, then you are also a stockholder of Southern AgCredit. Being a stockholder comes with benefits such as patronage, customer appreciation dinners, scholarships and more. We are always looking for ways to help our borrowers succeed.
Come in and visit with us. Tell us what you’re looking for. I like to help my customers figure out what they want—what excites them about the property they’re searching for. Some business professionals don’t have a lot of spare time to work on a property and want something that’s already set up, and others want to get up and ride their tractor to relax and get away from the daily grind. I intend to help customers get the property they want and manage it the way they want.
If you’re considering purchasing land or making any other kind of agricultural loan in eastern Mississippi, Stephen Bass is ready to help you. Details about the Meridian office opening are forthcoming, but you can get in touch with him today at 1-800-449-5742 or by email at email@example.com.