How to Buy a Cattle Ranch

If you don’t instantly associate states like Mississippi or Louisiana with cattle ranching, you’re not alone. Despite that common misconception, both states are home to a viable and thriving cattle industry. In Mississippi and Louisiana, cattle production has a combined production value of over $690 million. With careful and considered research, and of course hard work, cattle ranching in the south can be a rewarding and lucrative farming operation. The process can be overwhelming, so here are a few things to consider when considering a cattle ranch purchase.

Determine Your Cattle Ranch Needs

Consider Your Operational Plan

Operational plans for cattle ranch fall under two models, owner-operators or absentee operators.

  1. Owner-operators are living and working on the ranch most of the time. The residential accommodations of the ranch become more important if you’re planning to be an owner-operator.
  2. Absentee owners are typically not involved in the day-to-day operations of the ranch, but rather opt to hire a ranch manager or lease to a neighbor or operator in the area. 

Consider Your Operation Type

Stocker Operation

There is also the consideration for either a stocker or cow-calf operation. Stocker operations are often the only viable option for cattle ranching in some western states because of limited water resources and short grazing terms—neither of which are normal issues in the south.

Cow-Calf Operation

Cow-calf ranching is a year-round and long-term operation where a percentage of your calf crop is terminal, while the remaining cattle are kept in your herd. These operations also call for more facilities, infrastructure, and water resources. 

Find a Ranch for Sale

After determining your needs, locate a ranch to buy. The search can be made easier via online search engines for ranch properties like land.com for both Mississippi and Louisiana. You always have the option of contacting a local expert who has an “ear to the ground.” The team at your local Southern AgCredit office are a great resource when looking for farms and ranches for sale. They may have information on ranches that are only available by word-of-mouth.

Inspect Your Prospective Ranch

Water Access & Availability

The most critical element in any viable cattle ranch operation is water resources. Riparian areas and water rights for irrigation are key, but the placement of tanks, wells, and underground piping for your herd is essential as well.

Unlike ranches in the west, the abundance of water isn’t a problem, however, the quality of the water available remains a key factor in your herd’s health. It’s perfectly legal to drill a well in Mississippi and northern Louisiana, as long as it’s done by a licensed contractor. The National Water Information System lets you get a brief look at groundwater sites and springs in and around your ranch.

Condition of Infrastructure and Working Facilities

Before purchasing your ranch, you should always know the condition of the infrastructure and facilities. Your basic infrastructure includes fencing, cross-fencing, piping, water tanks, gates, and cattle guards. The size of your ranch could mean miles of fencing to replace if repairs are needed, costing you tens of thousands of dollars or more.

The working facilities must be in good condition, especially those of a cow-calf ranch. Facilities like corrals, chutes, scales and medical facilities are instrumental to the ranch’s success. 

Apply for Financing

Many use agricultural financing in the purchase of their cattle ranches. Southern AgCredit is an experienced lender of cattle ranch loans in northern Louisiana and Mississippi. For more information about our livestock loans, fill out the form below, and a loan administrator will contact you shortly.

  • Personal Information


  • Property Information

  • Specify the parish/county in Louisiana or Mississippi in which the land is located.
  • Specify the nearest city in Louisiana or Mississippi in which the land is located.

  • Message

Budgeting Tips for New Farmers

All business owners encounter unexpected complications at the start of their journey. Farmers, in particular, face many unique challenges, like raising livestock or sudden changes in the weather, not often encountered by more traditional business owners. However, the struggle to effectively budget money remains universal. Below are some helpful tips for new farmers to help better budget their money.

Find a Good Accountant

One of the first and best ways to save money is connecting with an accountant who’s knowledgeable in all things related to farm taxes. This person can be tremendously helpful in finding the tax breaks and deductions exclusively available to farmers and their families. Taking advantage of these exemptions is key, but it all starts with finding the right tax accountant for you and your farm. 

Consider Buying Used Equipment

Farming equipment is highly specialized and very costly, so buying used farm equipment is a place where you can save money instantly. In Louisiana, for example, farmers receive a sales tax exemption on some of the more expensive farm equipment. With careful research, finding quality used equipment is possible. One of the pricier pieces of new equipment is a tractor, and purchasing a good used tractor can save you thousands of dollars.  

Understand Your Fuel Needs

The size of your farm and your equipment will ultimately reflect your fueling needs. Choosing between an on-site fuel tank or adding a refueling tank to an existing work truck becomes important. Be sure not to overlook the distance to and from your local fuel station and how often you’ll have to go off-site to refuel. Relying on word-of-mouth to find the cheapest fuel in your area will always be an option, but there are more than a few easy-to-use apps designed to help you as well.

Save on Energy With Solar Technology

Rising energy costs could be reduced with an investment in solar energy. Mississippi solar manufacturers have different financial benefits that make production cheaper for them than their competitors located out-of-state. An early backing of the growing technology could prove instrumental in helping expand its use among your fellow farmers. Beyond solar energy offering a host of advantages environmentally, there are financial incentives worth considering as well. 

Effectively Feed Your Animals

Some farmers prefer to keep a standing order of feed for their animals. However, if you keep a smaller stock that tends to fluctuate in size, you could be spending far too much. Think about adjusting the amount of feed you buy to reflect the animals you currently have on hand. As the adage goes, buying less could mean saving more.

Still, there are some instances where buying in bulk and storing excess feed would work best for your needs. Savings can add up quickly during sales or when feed suppliers provide discounts for buying in bulk. While the number of animals you keep will factor into this decision, your storage capabilities should also be considered.

Go Do-It-Yourself (DIY) and Save

You could say the very nature of being a farmer means embracing a do-it-yourself attitude. Hiring outside professionals or buying pre-build structures can be expensive. If you have the knowledge and time, building and maintaining structures like your fencing, animal enclosures, and feeding troughs could lead to big savings.


If you’re a new farmer in Mississippi or Louisiana, Southern AgCredit will work with you to help meet all your farm’s financing needs. To learn more about our farm loans, contact us using the form below.

  • Personal & Business Information


  • Property Information

  • Specify the parish/county in Louisiana or Mississippi in which the land is located.
  • Specify the nearest city in Louisiana or Mississippi in which the land is located.

  • Message

How to Build a Home in the Country

Many people, particularly crowded city dwellers, have thought at one point or another that they would like to pack up and move to the country. Maybe it’s to enjoy more room, fewer people, or even a lower cost of living. In fact, since the pandemic began, nearly one in five adults currently living in rural areas are newcomers. If rural living is calling you, and you’d like to trade the sound of sirens for the song of cicadas, read our article about how to build your own home in rural Louisiana and Mississippi.

Find a Plot

Not sure where to start looking for your perfect homesite? We have a couple of great suggestions.

Online Search

Land.com is a search engine for rural properties with listings throughout northern Louisiana and Mississippi. 

Talk to an Expert

Many rural properties sell through word of mouth. As a result, the only way to hear about one of them is to start talking. Rural land experts like the team at your local Southern AgCredit office may be able to help. 

Southern AgCredit’s VP of Lending, Stephen Bass, advises that “there are plenty 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.”

Property Considerations

Flooding

Many rural homes in Louisiana and Mississippi are at risk of flooding. If the area you want to build in is below a floodplain, you can still build on the lot, but you must elevate the home. One way to do this is by using dirt to create a higher building area. If you wish to avoid significant lot preparation prior to building, consider purchasing land with a higher elevation. 

To find out if your potential property is a flood risk, search the address within the FEMA Flood Map Service Center

Water

Some rural properties have access to a local water system. For properties that do not have local water access, the property owner may consider digging a well. It is legal in northern Louisiana and Mississippi to drill a well on your property. However, the installation must come from a licensed contractor. Look at data for groundwater sites and springs in the National Water Information System to see the depth of wells near your tract.

Gas

Rural properties often use a propane gas delivery service for cooking, hot water, and heating your home. In order to have a propane tank installed, your property must be easily accessible for the large delivery truck. 

A licensed propane company must install your system. During installation, they will either build your tank a concrete pad that sits on the ground or dig a hole and bury the tank at the same time as your septic system installation. 

Septic & Wastewater

If your lot does not connect to the local sewage system, you must install a septic system to handle your waste. The Louisiana Department of Health and the Mississippi Department of Health require new, on-site wastewater systems to complete an application. Both sites also offer lists of licensed septic system installation professionals for hire.

Hire a Home Builder

Your home builder can help you with the many decisions that go into building a country home.

The recent construction boom has resulted in a high demand for home builders, and ongoing supply chain issues have caused building delays. Be patient, stay vigilant, and plan for your home to take longer to build than you anticipate. When doing research on your home builder, consider the following:

  • Properly vet your builder by asking for references, touring some of their homes and speaking to the owners. Learn about any subcontractors they may use.
  • Read all the fine print on your contracts carefully. 
  • Get all communication with your home builder in writing, and document every deposit, check, and sign-off. 
  • Carefully watch for markups on the construction. Builders add a markup to each expense (materials, labor, permits, etc.). Find out what they are buying and at what price.
  • To avoid upcharges, check that your products are the ones you ordered.

Finance Your Rural Home

Southern AgCredit offers financing for rural land homesite purchases and home construction. If you are interested in buying a homesite or building a home on your rural property in Louisiana or Mississippi, we can help. To receive more information from a loan officer, fill out your information below.

  • Personal Information


  • Property Information

  • Specify the parish/county in Louisiana or Mississippi in which the land is located.
  • Specify the nearest city in Louisiana or Mississippi in which the land is located.

  • Message

Support Children’s of Mississippi Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Southern AgCredit’s Fit for Ag/Jingle Bell Jog

The Southern AgCredit community gives back during the holiday season by hosting the Fit For Agriculture/Jingle Bell Jog on December 10, 2022 at Madison Central. Since 2013, the half marathon, 10k, and 5k race has helped raise necessary funds for Children’s of Mississippi Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. For more information about the Center, and to learn how funds being raised are used to help children, we spoke with the Director, Dr. Anderson B. Collier.

About Children’s of Mississippi Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders

Part of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Children’s of Mississippi Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders is a leading clinical research and treatment center working to improve the health outcomes for children with childhood cancers, like acute lymphoblastic anemia and blood disorders like sickle cell anemia. 

World-Class Treatment at Home

Many parents know the big name hospitals for childhood cancer, but did you know that you can receive the same treatments without leaving the state? Dr. Collier explained, “if you have cancer, and you’re a kid in Mississippi, you have access to the most cutting-edge and latest research, newest drugs, surgical techniques, scans—you name it, we can do it here.”

Clinical Trials and Research

From its inception, the Center has played a critical role in helping to advance clinical research and treatment options for both cancer and blood disorders, and it continues to provide vanguard care thanks to this work. 

Cancer

“Almost nobody survived childhood cancer in the 1950s. It wasn’t zero, but it was a low percentage. The survival rate today is about 80 percent. So, in about 60 years, the field has gone from a ten percent survival rate to an 80 percent survival rate, and we’ve done that through research,” said Dr. Collier. “Many people don’t realize the amount of research that we can provide here. Just from a cancer standpoint, we have about 70 to 80 clinical trials for kids with cancer that are currently available and enrolling patients.”

In the rare circumstance that the Center cannot offer a specific treatment, Dr. Collier says that they advocate for patients to receive their treatment elsewhere. “The world of pediatric oncology is really not that big. If I have a patient who needs something that I can’t provide, then I will call my [colleague] at the hospital that does offer it and figure out how to get them there.”

Sickle Cell Anemia

Mississippi has the largest population of patients with sickle cell anemia, and as a result, “we have the largest sickle cell practice for pediatrics in the county in patient volume. We follow 900-950 children up to 21 years of age,” said Dr. Collier. “It is exceedingly important for us to be heavily involved in sickle cell research. It’s the right thing to do for our patients and for the sickle cell community.” 

The Center has been one of the largest contributors to landmark studies on sickle cell anemia drug treatments. The researchers at the Center continue to contribute to trials on drug therapies, bone marrow transplants, and gene therapy treatments.

Family Support

When a child is sick, the stress of worrying about their health, coupled with anxiety regarding the financial cost of treatment and travel can be unbearable. “The only thing that parents should be worried about is their kid. They don’t need to worry about where they will stay—we’ll provide resources to help with all of those things,” said Dr. Collier.

An active group of program supporters for Children’s of Mississippi work to help families have funds for the following:

  • Medical bills that insurance does not cover
  • Food for families while their child is admitted
  • Mileage reimbursement
  • Lodging

Children’s of Mississippi’s Personal Touch

In addition to having the same therapies, technology, and diagnostics as some of the more well-known pediatric cancer centers, the smaller size and environment of Children’s offers a personal touch. As Dr. Collier said, “My partners and I will refer to patients as ‘our kids’—there’s a family-type feel to it. They are our kids. This is not a sterile clinic. Our nurses are phenomenal and know every name—the kids, the parents, the grandparents. One of our joys is when we get a high school graduation announcement from someone we treated years ago. We feel like proud parents.”

Why We Race for Children’s

Donations raised for Children’s of Mississippi Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders will be used to provide a more comfortable visit for children and their families. Monies raised will help complete a large renovation that includes an infusion room expansion, improved patient flow, and new dedicated spaces.

Infusion Room Expansion

Currently, the infusion room is an open area that only holds 12 patients getting an infusion at one time. The expansion includes:

  • Semi-private infusion bays for up to 20 patients 
  • Six-foot privacy wall between infusion bays
  • A comfortable recliner for parents in each bay

These patients can go into the infusion room, close their curtain, put on headsets, and block out the rest of the world. An advantage of having bays and not completely private rooms is that nurses can monitor patients without having to disturb them. This ease of monitoring gives them more private time and fewer interruptions. 

Improved Patient Flow

The renovation will nearly double the number of exam rooms—from eight to 14—to improve patient flow. Patients and their parents will wait in a new, re-located waiting area. 

New Dedicated Spaces

The renovation will bring these new spaces to the Clinic:

  • Areas in which to do procedures, access ports, administer IVs, spinal taps, bone marrow aspirates, and biopsies
  • Upgraded pharmacy
  • Dedicated office/classroom for the schoolteacher to work with patients
  • Dedicated psych test exam room
  • Neurocognitive testing and dedicated space for psychology to work with patients
  • Large oncology research office and lab 
  • Sickle cell anemia research office

Support the Center by Registering for the Fit for Ag/Jingle Bell Jog

If you’re interested in helping advance the Center’s very worthy cause, please register for Southern AgCredit’s 2022 Fit for Ag/Jingle Bell Jog! The race, which will be held on December 10, 2022, at Madison Central High School, features a half-marathon, 10k run, 5k run, 5k walk, and one mile fun run. If you would rather not run but would like to support the cause, you can select “Rally Without Racing” on the registration form.

Register for the Jingle Bell Jog

Solar Power on the Farm

Every penny counts on the farm, and with energy costs continuing to rise, money stretches even less than it used to. New technologies have made our farms more efficient, but there are still additional ways to save on operating costs.

Many farmers in Louisiana and Mississippi are adding solar to their crop, livestock, and poultry operations.

Solar and Agriculture Co-Location Systems

Agriculture and solar can exist side-by-side in a couple of ways. First, the broad roofs of poultry and livestock houses make a perfect place to install solar panels.

Second is another type of farming system called agrivoltaics. Agrivoltaics involves elevated solar panels that contain agricultural production underneath. By elevating solar panels, they are less likely to be threatened with flooding, crops and forage can be grown, livestock can graze, and habitats for pollinators can flourish. 

Benefits of Farmers Adding Solar

Energy Savings

The main benefit for adding solar to a farm is to save on energy costs. While the initial investment in a solar system is significant, many systems pay for themselves within several years of installation and last for twenty-five years. 

Currently, energy companies in Louisiana and Mississippi allow commercial businesses to return excess electricity to the grid to reduce their bills. However, these states do not require energy companies to compensate customers at the full retail rate. Check your utility to see what rate they offer for net metering.

Other Benefits 

The U.S. Department of Energy writes, in its Farmer’s Guide to Going Solar, additional benefits of agrivoltaics include the:

  • Diversification of revenue stream
  • Increased ability to install high-value, shade-resistant crops for new markets
  • Ability to maintain crop production during solar generation
  • Nutrient and land recharge of depleted soil
  • Potential for water use reduction
  • Potential to extend growing seasons

Solar Success Stories

Some Southern AgCredit borrower-owners have added solar panels to their barns and seen a reduction in energy costs. For example, Dr. Wallace and Carol Carson received a REAP grant to finance an 82-kilowatt system of 249 solar panels and 10 inverters that will last 25 years and pay for itself in only six. Read more about how the Wallaces and others worked with Southern AgCredit to secure financing for a solar system alongside federal tax credits and USDA grants in Landscape Magazine

How to Save On Your Farm’s Solar System

Farmers can use two federal programs to save on the cost of their solar systems: REAP and the Federal solar investment tax credit.

Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)

Enacted by the 2008 Farm Bill, REAP provides small businesses, farmers, and ranchers with grants to improve energy efficiency. This includes new light bulbs, energy-efficient equipment, and solar systems. Grants can finance up to 25 percent of the cost of a project. This includes up to $500,000 for renewable energy projects, and $250,000 for efficiency improvements.

Applications for REAP are open for the 2023 fiscal year, with applications dues on October 31, 2022. 

Federal Renewable Energy Tax Credit

The solar investment tax credit (ITC) allows you to claim a percentage of your solar system on your federal taxes. If you are on the fence about solar, this may be the catalyst you need: the amount you’re allowed to deduct on your taxes is falling and will continue to decrease. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, here’s how the tax credits are structured:

  • 26 percent tax credit for projects commencing construction between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2022, but placed in service before 2026 (before 2025 for projects commencing construction in 2020 and which use the IRS continuity safe harbor. See below for further detail on “continuity safe harbor”). 
  • 22 percent tax credit for projects commencing construction between January 1, 2023, and December 31, 2023, but placed in service before 2026.
  • 10 percent tax credit for projects commencing construction after December 31, 2023, or placed in service after December 31, 2025.

Read the Guide to the Federal Investment Tax Credit for Commercial Solar Photovoltaics to learn everything you need to know about qualifying for the tax credit.

Speak With Southern AgCredit About Your Farm’s Financing

If you’re a farmer in the north western parishes of Louisiana or in the central to southern part of Mississippi, we offer financing that can be used for operational improvements like solar panels. To learn more about our farm loans, contact us using the form below.

Loan Inquiry