Southern AgCredit hires collateral evaluator

RIDGELAND, Miss. – Southern AgCredit, a rural lending cooperative, recently hired Mitchell Bishop as a collateral evaluator in its administrative office. 

Bishop holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Mississippi State University. Prior to joining Southern AgCredit, he worked in agricultural retail for Simplot Growers Solutions in Hollandale, Miss.  Bishop is a native of Madison and is engaged to Madison Flye of Daphne, Ala.

Southern AgCredit is a full-service cooperative lender that specializes in financing rural land and agricultural operations in Mississippi and Louisiana. It is a part of the Farm Credit System, the nation’s single largest source of loans for agriculture, agribusiness, rural real estate and country homes. For more information, visit www.southernagcredit.com.

Mitchell Bishop

Southern AgCredit hires office administrator in Meridian office

Southern AgCredit has hired Stacey Davis as an office administrator in its Meridian office. The rural lending cooperative specializes in financing land and agricultural operations in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Davis comes to Southern AgCredit with 10 years of banking experience in various positions, most recently as a loan assistant at Community Bank in Meridian.  She is married to Matt Davis, and they reside in Meridian with their two sons.    

“Stacey has the experience and customer service skills needed to assist our customer-owners and we look forward to working with her to see our Meridian office grow,” said Phillip Morgan, Southern AgCredit chief executive officer.

Stacey Davis

LIBOR To Be Replaced

Adjustable Interest Rate (LIBOR) Act Changes

On March 15, 2022, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 into law, which includes the Adjustable Interest Rate (LIBOR) Act. The (LIBOR) Act “provides for the transition of certain financial contracts away from the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), a reference interest rate based upon the lending terms certain banks offer to each other for various lengths of time.

LIBOR is set to be retired in 2023. Various financial contracts reference LIBOR as a benchmark for prevailing interest rates and use LIBOR in calculating certain payments or obligations. In the event a contract referencing LIBOR does not have a fallback or replacement rate provision in effect when LIBOR is retired, or a replacement rate is not selected by a determining person as defined by the bill, the bill provides for a transition to a replacement rate selected by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The (LIBOR) Act also provides for conforming changes to these contracts, the continuity and enforceability of these contracts, and protections against liability as a result of such a transition.” 

Summary: H.R.4616 — 117th Congress (2021-2022) 

“Our Southern AgCredit team has worked diligently over the past two years to transition our LIBOR indexed loans to other variable and fixed loan rate products. We are pleased to have the additional assurances and guidance from congress regarding the financial market’s transition away from the LIBOR index.”

Phillip Morgan, Southern AgCredit Chief Executive Officer

Southern AgCredit Awards $31,000 in Scholarships to Local Students

Southern AgCredit, a rural financing cooperative, is pleased to announce its 2022 scholarship recipients. The co-op awarded a total of $31,000 in scholarships to 28 students.

To qualify, each applicant had to be a current Southern AgCredit borrower, or a current borrower’s child, grandchild or spouse. Selection criteria included academics, leadership, extracurricular activities and an essay by the student.    

A total of 26 students each received a $1,000 scholarship.

In addition, two recipients were awarded $2,500 scholarships. These special scholarships honor two former longtime Southern AgCredit board members — Jimmie Dick Carter and Emery Skelton. They are awarded to deserving students attending or planning to attend Mississippi State University and major in agriculture or a related field.

By supporting ag education with 28 scholarships, Southern AgCredit seeks to fuel the future of the agriculture industry.

“These young people represent the future of agriculture, and we are proud to do our part to help them pursue their dreams,” said Southern AgCredit Chief Executive Officer Phillip Morgan. “We wish them all much success.”

Following are the recipients and the colleges they attend or plan to attend.     


$2500 – Jimmie Dick Carter Scholarship

Karoline Heathcock
Waynesboro, MS
Mississippi State University

$2500 – Emery Skelton Scholarship

Austin Rexrode
Hollandale, MS
Mississippi State University

$1000 – scholarship recipients

Dock Adams
Smithdale, MS
Mississippi State University

Faith Barry
Sumrall, MS
Mississippi State University

Lainey Brumfield
Foxworth, MS
William Carey University

Grayson Childress
Brookhaven, MS
United State Air Force Academy

Kobly Donahoo
Belzoni, MS
Mississippi Delta Community College

Molly Garner
Madison, MS
University of Arkansas

Ayden Gautreau
Tylertown, MS
Pearl River Community College

Taylor Gautreau                         
Tylertown, MS
Southwest Mississippi Community College

James Hunter Hearn
Benoit, MS
Mississippi State University

Tristen Herrington
Lucedale, MS
Mississippi State University

Thomas “Trey” Knott
Bogue Chitto, MS
Mississippi College or Copiah-Lincoln Community College

Jayden Latham
Walnut Grove, MS
East Mississippi Community College

Savannah Rose McMillan 
Braxton, MS
Belhaven University

Vivian McRee 
Wesson, MS
Copiah-Lincoln Community College

Lila Murphy  
Jackson, MS
Mississippi State University

Georgia Neill 
McCarley, MS
Mississippi State University

Francesca Pham
Lawrence, MS
East Central Community College

Shelby Richardson
Biloxi, MS
University of Southern Mississippi

Emmie Shaw                                
Bruce, MS
Northwest Community College

Elizabeth Skelton                         
Greenville, MS
Mississippi State University

Zachary Ty Skelton                       
Greenwood, MS
Mississippi Delta Community College

Lilli C. Smith                                  
Poplarville, MS
University of Mississippi

Warren Toler                                
Inverness, MS
Mississippi State University

Kaitlyn Wade                                
Grace, MS
East Mississippi Community College

Charli Ann White                          
Canton, MS
Mississippi State University

Rosalea Woodard                        
Leland, MS
The University of the South at Sewanee

Rural Lending Co-op Hires Customer Service Representative in Ridgeland

Southern AgCredit recently hired Casey Spence as a customer service representative in its Ridgeland branch office. The rural lending cooperative specializes in financing land and agricultural operations in Mississippi and Louisiana.

Spence holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Mississippi State University. She comes from a tenured career at Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company, where she held various positions and most recently was a claims examiner. She is married to Kevin Spence, and they reside in Madison with their daughter. 

“Casey brings wide-ranging customer service experience to the team, and we are excited to have her in our Ridgeland branch office,” said Phillip Morgan, Southern AgCredit chief executive officer.

Casey Spence

Blue-ribbon Red Angus

When Erin and Todd Vowell were newlyweds, Erin hoped to someday see cattle from every window.

“It sounds silly, but it goes back to my grandfather’s ranch,” Erin says. “Those were my favorite childhood memories.”

It wasn’t silly to Todd, who grew up on a cattle farm.

Fifteen years later, their Forest, Mississippi, home is surrounded by pasture. And in 2020 they expanded their Red Angus seedstock operation by purchasing a ranch in Oklahoma.

The plan came together thanks to good friends, good timing and a loan from Southern AgCredit.

Going for quality

Sandridge Land & Cattle has quickly grown in six years. It started small when daughter Addison, now 14, was old enough to show animals.

“Red Angus are very efficient cattle with a great disposition, so they were a great fit for our young showman,” says Erin, who manages the cattle operation. “And Angus beef has excellent marbling and quality.”

In fact, the Vowells stock Angus beef at their 13 Vowell’s Marketplace stores and three other grocery stores in Mississippi and Alabama.

“Our brand is truly built around the meat department,” says Todd, president of the grocery business his grandfather started in 1945. “We still cut all of our meat in the store.”

Addison Vowell’s heifer Ellie was named Dixie National Junior Round-Up Supreme Beef Female in 2021. Ellie now lives at the family’s Oklahoma ranch.

But the family’s purebred cattle aren’t destined for the meat case. They’re winning in the show ring.

Last year, Addison won a $1,500 scholarship to Mississippi State University when her Champion Red Angus heifer was named the Dixie National Junior Round-Up Supreme Beef Female. Her brother, Cade, 12, showed the heifer’s week-old calf. That’s just one of several wins for the siblings.

Making a westward expansion

Red Six Mile Ellie 205G, Addison’s cow, now enjoys the moderate climate and more diverse forages of their new ranch near Stillwater, Oklahoma.

The ranch helps the family access new markets, better cattle prices, and lower freight and feed costs.

“Oklahoma is a hub for cattle sales and operations,” Erin says. “There’s more opportunity there for our seedstock operation. We do a lot of embryo transfer and AI work, and use the same type genetics at both locations.”

The Vowells market their bulls and females through an annual bull sale, private sales and consignment sales across the U.S. They also offer show heifers and embryos.

Purchasing the turnkey operation was an opportunity they couldn’t pass up. But they had to act quickly to pull it off.

Financing with Southern roots

The Vowells called Southern AgCredit based on the lender’s patronage program and competitive interest rates. It turned out Kevin Brown — whom Todd helped coach for high school football — was on the staff in Ridgeland, Mississippi.

“Kudos to Kevin,” Erin says. “He had the best rates and made it as easy as possible. Everybody at Southern AgCredit jumped through hoops to close the loan on a tight schedule.”

Todd, who serves on the board of a local bank, says he and Erin always shop around.

“We like to diversify in business and financing,” he says. “But the most rewarding experience thus far was with Kevin and Southern AgCredit.”

A few months later, the Vowells refinanced their Mississippi land with the lending co-op.

“I think they appreciate the way we understand their operation,” says Brown, now Ridgeland branch manager. “Southern AgCredit is involved in the local ag community and is the title sponsor of the Dixie National Rodeo. We have a passion for ag financing.”

Bonding through the cattle industry

The Vowells are now focused on building and improving their herd in both locations.

Bred heifers graze near the Vowells’ home in Forest, Mississippi.

“Our goal is to be on the forefront of improving the breed as a whole,” Erin says. “We’ve partnered with great people who have extensive breeding and development knowledge. We’ve also met lifelong friends.” 

Those friends and partners include Tony Tolar and his family, as well as Cody Maske and his wife.

“Tony, our Oklahoma ranch manager, and Cody, our ranch manager in Forest, help with breeding decisions and day-to-day operations,” Erin says. “And the kids are very hands-on. It’s been a huge character-builder for them and an opportunity to learn to take the good and the bad.”

But lately, they’ve been on a winning streak.

After the 2021 Dixie National, Ellie and two calves from an embryo flush all had division wins at the North American Junior Red Angus Event. And one, a calf they Vowells sold to a family in Colorado, went on to be named Reserve Champion Other Purebred Heifer at the Colorado State Fair.

“We love to see our customers successful,” Erin says. “And those cattle are special to us, too. We are just tickled.”

Molpus Woodlands Group LLC

Molpus Woodlands Group is one of the oldest timber-related companies in the United States with a storied history that dates to 1905. Over its 117-year history, Molpus has evolved from a mercantile store to a lumberyard, to a sawmill, and now to a timberland investment management organization (TIMO). Since its inception as a TIMO in 1996, Molpus has invested, on behalf of its clients, more than $4 billion across 4 million acres of timberland across the U.S.

Molpus acquires, manages and sells timberland as an investment vehicle for a variety of investors. It focuses on earning optimal cash returns while also being a good steward of the forests that it manages. Molpus incorporates environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies and practices into all its investment analysis and decision-making. The team at Molpus believes their strong ESG initiatives have positive implications for the environment and the communities in which they live and work.

Molpus has achieved many significant milestones in its ESG initiatives. Most recently, it celebrated the planting of 251 million trees since 1998 as part of its sustainable forest management program. Molpus recognizes the importance of land-based solutions and healthy forests in climate change mitigation and carbon sequestration. It is also actively engaged in nature- based carbon-offset projects that help preserve forests as carbon sinks. Carbon offsets represent an increase in carbon storage to compensate for carbon emissions that occur elsewhere. The company was awarded, on behalf of a client, the 2018 Carbon Project Developer of the Year award by the California Climate Action Reserve at the 2019 North American Carbon World conference held in Los Angeles, California.

Private working forests, such as those Molpus manages, are a fundamental part of the underlying infrastructure of the U.S. economy. These forests produce renewable, recyclable, and reusable wood and paper products that our economy depends on. These forests also absorb and store carbon, produce clean water and air, sustain vital biodiversity, provide recreation experiences and supply a growing resource for renewable energy.

Molpus also boasts many other ESG initiatives. It currently offers an annual scholarship program at five different universities that targets students in under-represented populations. Its objective is to help bring more diversity to the forestry management profession. Molpus also prides itself on employing qualified natural resources professionals to manage forests who have completed training programs that focus on issues like water quality and enhancing biodiversity. Molpus helps monitor and protect over 6,000 miles of streams and rivers to ensure clean water. It also monitors and preserves species of concern, including the grizzly bear, gopher tortoise and forest songbirds. All of Molpus’ management forests are certified to the Sustainable Forestry Initiative program (SFI) Forest Management Standard, which is recognized by the globally recognized Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Where beneficial, additional certification to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards is also obtained.

“Southern AgCredit has been a constant champion for Molpus and its success for more than a decade now. It is not just a transactional relationship for each party, it’s a partnership,” says Hunter Barlow, Southern AgCredit’s agribusiness portfolio manager. “It’s been Southern AgCredit’s knowledge of timber financing and unique loan products that has helped this relationship grow and flourish as it has.”

“We have worked with Southern AgCredit for many years as they understand our business and the needs of our sustainable forestry management. Their deep knowledge of our industry enables them to address our objectives and tailor lending solutions to our clients needs,” says Michael Cooper, Molpus’ senior director of client relations and business development. “Southern AgCredit comes from the rich history of the Federal Land Bank System, and their level of expertise in lending to the forestry industry is unique.”

Frasier Farms

Randy Frasier has been in the poultry business for over 30 years. Although this wasn’t where he started, he is proud of where he ended up. Poultry wasn’t the only thing that kept Randy busy. He also had a 30-year career with the City of Ruston, where he managed the city’s water and sewer systems. He’s since retired from the City of Ruston and is semiretired from the poultry business.

“I still go check on the chicken houses each day, and when I see something that needs attention, well, I tell the managers that they need to get to it,” Randy says with a laugh. The managers are Randy’s son and daughter-in-law, Travis and Leslie.

Frasier Farms consists of 29 acres and eight Class A broiler houses in Dubach. Randy built his first four chicken houses in 1990. After Randy retired from the city, he decided to expand his operation. “I thought, well, if I’m going to be in the chicken business, then I need to have more chicken houses.” So, that’s exactly what he did. He added 4 more houses to his poultry operation.

Randy knew Devin Davis, Southern AgCredit’s Ruston branch manager, from a previous job when Devin was in commercial banking. When Devin accepted the job at Southern AgCredit, he was asked if he knew anyone who raised chickens. “I sure do,” said Devin. “Mr. Randy was one of the first people I went to talk to about Southern AgCredit.”

It wasn’t long after this conversation that Randy walked through the doors of the Ruston branch and told Devin he’d like to move all his loans to Southern AgCredit. “Devin is just a good guy, and I like doing business with him and with Southern AgCredit,” Randy says.

Frasier Farms grows larger birds in the 10-pound range for the House of Raeford, their integrator. Their birds are NAE (no antibiotics ever) poultry. The Frasiers see a low mortality rate among their flocks, and their housing specs are in line with Raeford’s guidelines. “We produce a really good breed of chicken and we’re proud of that,” Randy says.

When Travis and Leslie got involved with the business, they decided to add cattle. They now have cows, heifers, calves and one bull. “My grandad always had cows when I was a little boy, and having my own cows was just something I always dreamed of,” says Travis.

Travis and Leslie manage the day-to-day operations of the farm. “My favorite part of all of this is knowing that I am helping to contribute to feeding America,” Leslie says. “That’s very important to us.”

When it comes to Travis, he enjoys being his own boss and working closely each day with his family. Travis and Leslie see their business expanding to hopefully include even more chicken houses in the future.

Randy’s wife, Kathy, works off the farm but is never too far away. “I’ve done my share of cleaning out chicken houses and feeding chickens,” Kathy says. She works in the office furniture business. She recently sold her business, but the new company asked her to stay on for guidance and direction, which she gladly accepted.

Randy is also a world-famous foxhound breeder. His tagline is Faith, Family, Foxhounds. “The good Lord has blessed us and keeps on blessing us,” he says.

Carson Smyly

“Southern AgCredit was one of the key factors allowing me to achieve my dream of becoming a farmer.”
—Carson Smyly

Carson Smyly is a fifth generation row crop farmer from the Mississippi Delta. He farms on acreage in Washington, Sunflower and Humphreys counties in Mississippi. Carson grows primarily soybeans, although he’s also raised other grain and cotton in previous years.

While Carson is only 28 years old, he has tremendous farming experience since he’s worked on a farm most of his life. His father, Doug Smyly, is also a full-time farmer and owns Smyly Planting Company in Hollandale. Carson has worked alongside his father for many years and attributes much of his farming knowledge to him. Doug and his wife, Nichole, became Southern AgCredit stockholders in 2004. They primarily farm soybeans and corn.

Carson signed on his first production loan with Southern AgCredit in 2015 and has had successful years since then. “Southern AgCredit was one of the key factors allowing me to achieve my dream of becoming a farmer,” said Carson.

Carson is married to the former Anna Coker of Stuttgart, Arkansas. Anna is a graduate research assistant at Mississippi State University and is studying to receive her Ph.D. in agronomy. Together, she and Carson have two young children, Sutton and John Douglas.

“I guess you could say that farming is most definitely not just an occupation to our family,” Carson says. “It is a way of life, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.”

The Smyly family is a close-knit one. Being able to farm together is something that they truly enjoy. “Family is a big deal to us, and having the opportunity to work alongside my family day in and day out is an opportunity that cannot be topped,” Carson says.

The future is bright for the Smyly family and their farming operation. Their goals are to continue to grow in all aspects and ensure that farming is an option for their children to pursue should they desire to farm when they are grown.

“I couldn’t be more thankful to have had the pleasure of dealing with the hard-working, friendly and knowledgeable staff at Southern AgCredit — specifically our loan officer, Colton Thomas, who is also a friend,” Carson says.

 “Carson and I have known each other for most of our lives,” says Colton, a Southern AgCredit loan officer in Greenville. “We attended grade school together, and we both attended Mississippi State at the same time. I am fortunate to get to call Carson a friend of mine with whom I enjoy sharing a duck blind or making a farm visit.”

Colton, who also comes from a Delta farming family, knows the Smyly family’s work ethic because he’s seen it firsthand. Their families have been farming next to each other for many years.

“The Smylys take great pride in their operation. I look forward to working with them for many years to come,” says Colton.