Jingle Bell Jog 2023

Jingle Bell Jog 2023

Half Marathon, 10K, 5K, Kids Fun Run for Children’s of Mississippi Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders

IT IS BACK! Mark your calendars for the 2023 Jingle Bell Jog Half Marathon presented by Southern AgCredit.

The race will take place on December 9, 2023 and will start and finish at the new Southern AgCredit building located at 306 Commerce Center Drive in Ridgeland.   The race will benefit Children’s of Mississippi Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders.

 Race options:

  • Half marathon
  • 10K run
  • 5K run
  • 5K walk
  • One Mile Fun Run for kids

Sign up today to get early bird pricing. Click here to register online!

Spring Operating Lines of Credit for Farms

As springtime approaches, farmers are looking to get started on this year’s production. If you’re a farmer, and you’re looking over financing options for the year, consider the benefits of Operating lines of credit. 

Operating lines of credit loans can be used for many purposes. These loans offer great financial flexibility that help farms manage their cash flow and short-term financing needs. ​Below, we’ll detail how operating lines of credit loans can be used.

Uses for Operating Lines of Credit

Crop Inputs

Farms require a high amount of capital to buy inputs, such as seeds, fertilizers, fuel and pesticides. Operating lines of credit can help farms with these inputs via credit. After the crop harvest, they pay back the loan.

Livestock Feed

Raising livestock requires capital to purchase feed, supplements, and additional veterinary care. Operating lines of credit will help farms finance all these expenses, keeping your animals fed.

Labor Costs

Farms require a larger workforce to maintain, plant, harvest, and process crops, and care for their livestock. If cash flow becomes tight, operating lines of credit can help cover the cost of labor, including wages and benefits. 

Equipment Expenses

Farmers need a wide variety of equipment and machinery, like tractors, combines, irrigation systems, etc., to operate a farm. Operating lines of credit help farms cover the cost of maintenance and repair.

Operating Costs

There are several operating expenses that come with corporate farming that quickly add up, including:

  • rent
  • utilities
  • insurance

This is where an operating line of credit can become invaluable. It’ll cover these costs, helping your farm to continue operating efficiently.

Does Your Farm Need an Operating Line of Credit?

Southern AgCredit knows that your farm has major needs, and we’re here to help you meet those needs. Our expert loan officers can answer any questions you might have and build a financial plan tailored to your farm. Start by filling out the form below.

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Leasing vs. Purchasing Farm Equipment

Farmers know there are several nuanced factors that make their operations successful ones. Some of those factors are beyond the farmer’s control—weather and the health of farmers and their animals comes to mind. But one thing a farmer does have some control over is their farm equipment. Specific to this blog, farmers control the way their equipment is acquired.

Having the right equipment makes jobs on the farm easier and faster. In some cases, without certain pieces of farm equipment, tasks would be downright impossible. 

Deciding between leasing vs. purchasing farm equipment is one of the most important decisions a farmer can make. There are many key differences between the two paths, and below we detail the benefits of both.

Benefits of Leasing Farm Equipment

Lower Upfront Cost 

Leasing gives farmers the opportunity to obtain critical equipment without the large initial investment. Leasing usually calls for no large down payments. Typically, you’ll receive 100 percent financing after providing the first month’s payment. 


The structure of a lease can be worked out to match the operational needs of a farm. For example, if the equipment is only seasonal usage, a farmer can procure it for the limited amount of time it is useful.

Maximize Tax Benefits

For tax purposes, true leases can be treated as a business expense and the entire lease payment may be tax deductible. Lease purchase programs provide tax benefits that mirror those for owned equipment, such as depreciation and other eligible deductions.

Most Up-to-Date Equipment

Farming technology is constantly evolving to make tasks faster and easier. Leasing allows farmers to always have the most recent versions of the equipment they require rather than being saddled with a piece of machinery that requires more time and energy than it should.

Capital Preservation

Maintain financial flexibility and stability by preserving working capital. Leasing can provide 100% financing, including soft costs, with no down payment required, so you can keep more cash on hand. Benefit from fixed rate financing and mitigate rising rates in the future. Leasing can also help manage loan covenants and be another source of financing.

Benefits of Purchasing Farm Equipment


When farmers purchase equipment outright, it allows them to own and completely customize their equipment to fit the needs of their farm.


Like anything else a farmer owns, purchased equipment allows them to build and hold equity that can be used as collateral for future investments.

Tax Benefits 

There are unique circumstances wherein tax benefits are only available after purchasing farm equipment. For instance, Louisiana’s farmers enjoy some tax advantages for certain purchases, like rubber tired farm tractors, cane harvesters, cane loaders and more.


When farmers purchase equipment, they have absolute control over it. Farmers can use their purchased equipment when, where and how they see fit, with no risk of violating terms of a lease, which can be somewhat limiting.

Long-Term Savings

Purchasing equipment can be cost-effective over time, especially if the equipment is something they’ll be using for years to come.

Southern AgCredit is all about helping farmers, and if you’re a farmer in Mississippi or Louisiana, let us help you get the equipment you need. There’s no need to worry, as our expert loan officers will figure out a purchasing plan that works best for you. Fill out the form below for more information.

USDA Organic Certification for Louisiana and Mississippi Farmers

You’ve likely heard of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), but you may not know what they do. The USDA is the leader in food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, public policy, latest science and effective management. And if you enjoy organic food, you should know that the gold standard for organically grown food (not only here in America, but throughout the world) is the USDA organic seal. 

Meeting the USDA organic seal standard isn’t easy.

Across the globe, all farms and businesses follow the same set of principles, rules, regulations and guidelines that are part of a shared global control system. Reaching the threshold for USDA organic certification can be quite labor-intensive. The reward, however, is that it offers instant recognition to consumers that your products are not only safely and organically grown but of the highest quality available.

“Organic” is defined by the National Organic Program as, “a labeling term that refers to an agricultural product produced in accordance with the Act.”

The National Organic Cost-Share Program

Savings are available for organic certifications! Each year, the National Organic Program provides funding to each state to help individual organic operators pay for the cost of their certifications. Organic farmers may be reimbursed up to 50 percent (for a maximum of $500) for each organic certification they complete (i.e. crops, livestock, processing). These reimbursements are available on a first-come, first-serve basis until the funding for the program is spent. Visit these sites for application instructions and deadlines:

Benefits of Selling USDA Organic Products

In the south, especially within the agricultural field, competition can be fierce. Farmers are constantly looking for ways to stand out in a crowded market. Healthier food options are one way to do that. Studies indicate that states like Mississippi and Louisiana are among the states wherein becoming healthier is a priority

USDA Organic Labeling and Marketing

When your product is labeled with one of the many USDA organic seals, it identifies the product as meeting a higher standard of quality than other products in the marketplace. This attracts customers looking to buy organic, which tends to be a consumer base more than willing to pay higher prices due to the perceived health benefits of organic food, and the market and sale of organic food is booming

In 2021, food rose to 12.4 percent of US household spending, and competition is fierce. Therefore, the USDA organic seal is a coveted marketing tool for any farmer growing crops or raising animals. The seal is trademarked and can’t just be slapped on anything for sale. Be sure to do research on what products can and cannot be labeled as organic.

Organic Certification Standards

The “organic” label describes the specific requirements that must be verified by a USDA-accredited certifying agent. USDA organic standards include crop, livestock, poultry and handling standards.

Crop Standards

The standard for crops to meet USDA organic is, of course, a bit higher than the typical standard and means you must meet the following requirements:

  • Land must have had no prohibited substances applied to it for at least three years before the harvest of an organic crop.
  • Soil fertility and crop nutrients will be managed through tillage and cultivation practices, crop rotations and cover crops, supplemented with animal and crop waste materials and allowed synthetic materials.
  • Crop pests, weeds and diseases will be controlled primarily through management practices including physical, mechanical and biological controls. When these practices are not sufficient, a biological, botanical or synthetic substance approved for use on the National List may be used.
  • Operations must use organic seeds and other planting stock when available.
  • The use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation and sewage sludge is prohibited.

Livestock and Poultry Standards

Just as with crop standards, the USDA raises the standards for livestock and poultry products attempting to attain USDA organic certification. This applies to animals used for meat, milk, eggs and other animal products sold or labeled as organic. Some requirements include the following:

  • Dairy animals and animals for slaughter must be raised under organic management from the last third of gestation, or no later than the second day of life for poultry.
  • Non-organic dairies have a one-time opportunity to transition non-organic animals to organic production (over a 12-month period).
  • Producers must feed livestock agricultural feed products that are 100 percent organic, but they may also provide allowed vitamin and mineral supplements.
  • Preventive management practices must be used to keep animals healthy. Producers may not withhold treatment from sick or injured animals. However, animals treated with a prohibited substance may not be sold as organic.
  • Ruminants must be out on pasture for the entire grazing season, but for not less than 120 days. These animals must also receive at least 30 percent of their feed, or dry matter intake (DMI), from pasture.
  • All organic livestock and poultry are required to have access to the outdoors year-round. Animals may only be temporarily confined due to documented environmental or health considerations.

Handling Standards

The normal standards for organic certified products is different than non-organic products.

  • All non-agricultural ingredients, whether synthetic or non-synthetic, must be allowed according to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.
  • In a multi-ingredient product labeled as “organic,” all agricultural ingredients must be organically produced, unless the ingredient(s) is not commercially available in organic form and listed on Section 205.606.
  • Handlers must prevent the commingling of organic with non-organic products and protect organic products from contact with prohibited substances.

Before Going Organic

A farmer looking to obtain a USDA organic certification should get familiar with some introductory practices before taking the leap. Certain factors beyond your control might make going organic too expensive or even impossible. A full review of organic regulations is also recommended.

Finance Your Organic Operation

No matter the type of farming you’re interested in doing, Southern AgCredit is an experienced lender helping northern Louisiana and Mississippi farmers with all their financial needs. For more information about our agribusiness loans, fill out the form below, and a loan administrator will contact you shortly.

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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.

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Tips for New Farmers to Effectively Budget

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.

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How to Build Your Own 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


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


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.


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.

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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. 


“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 power on the farm 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 Adding Solar Power on the Farm

Energy Savings

The main benefit for adding solar power on the farm is to save on energy costs. While the initial investment in solar power on the farm 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 solar power on the farm alongside federal tax credits and USDA grants in Landscape Magazine

How to Save On Your Solar Power on the Farm

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 power on the farm, 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

Prepare Your Food Plots for Deer Season

In our Guide to Buying Hunting Land, we discussed what you’d look for in a tract of land that could be used for deer hunting. Successful deer camps have well-placed, healthy food plots. This article will go into a bit more about how to get your plots into shape in time for deer season.

Test Your Soil

To have optimal growth in your food plot, your soil must be at a proper pH level. According to Whitetails Unlimited, “Most deer forage crops grow best at pH values that are slightly acidic, between 5.8 and 6.5. Adjusting soil pH with lime within this range maximizes growth and increases yield, fertilizer efficiency, palatability of crops, and herbicide effectiveness.”

Find out what your soil pH is by testing it. Test your soil professionally with an in-depth analysis by the LSU’s Soil Testing & Plant Analysis Lab or Mississippi State Soil Testing Lab. If you want less information, there are at-home tests as well as digital gadgets that can measure your soil pH.

Apply Lime to Raise Soil pH

Ground limestone rock can be added to soil to raise the pH level, making it more alkaline and less acidic. Applying lime should be done about four months before your initial planting.

When you have your pH number and know what you want to raise it to, the rule of thumb is to apply 1.2 tons of lime to your soil per pH point. So, if your soil’s pH is 5, and you would like to raise it to 6.5, spread 1.6 tons of lime on your plot. 

A common method is to use powdered lime and apply it by using a spreader attached to your tractor or four wheeler. If you’d like to avoid the backbreaking work of handling thousands of pounds of bags of crushed rock, there are expert agricultural lime spreaders available for hire. 


Your plants need a combination of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in their soil. Using your soil analysis form, you’ll be able to see what nutrients your soil is lacking. To bring those elements up to healthy levels, use the soil testing analysis form for a fertilizer mix recommendation. Purchase a mix that contains the correct dose of each nutrient related to your analysis. 

What to Plant

To keep deer well-fed over the year, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) recommends combination plantings. They contend that “combination plantings will also reduce the risk of total crop failure due to insects, disease, or adverse weather since different species grow and mature at different rates.” Their favorite cool season forage plants are brassica, winter oats, winter wheat, crimson clover, and arrowleaf clover.

“Planting cool season food plots with a mixture of cereal grains and clovers can provide deer with quality forage during times of nutritional stress. A cool season combination that does well in the south is a mixture of oats, wheat, crimson clover, and arrowleaf clover. Oats and wheat will germinate and grow quickly to insure quality forage is available during the hunting season. Although the clover seed will germinate, growth will be slow until late winter, when crimson clover will begin rapid growth that continues until blooming in late March to mid-April. At that point the arrowleaf clover will begin to actively grow. Arrowleaf (depending on the variety) will mature from mid-June until the first of July. Therefore, this mixture can supply quality forage on the same food plot from October through June.”
Source: MDWFP

When to Plant

LSU’s AgCenter’s “earliest recommended planting dates for cool season forages would be for oats, and those dates for south Louisiana are September 15 to October 15.” They recommend planting cereal rye, wheat, and ryegrass between the weeks of September 20 to October 15 and clovers from October 1 to November 15.

According to MSU Deer Lab’s Bronson Strickland, “In most of Mississippi, your best bet is mid to late September until the middle of October” for planting winter food plots for deer. 

Planting Tips

When planting a seed mix, follow the directions on the bag. Some seeds can be thrown out directly on top of the soil, while others need to be covered. With loose seeds, run a drag over the plot to make sure that your seeds are hitting the soil to begin germination. If you need more soil coverage, a cultipacker will press seeds further into the soil.

The Mississippi State University Extension Publication, “Supplemental Wildlife Food Planting Manual for the Southeast” has a number of tips for managing white-tailed deer habitats, including how to protect your seeded plot from soil erosion and weeds with proper mulch:

When overseeding exposed soil areas susceptible to severe erosion, cover the areas with a wheat straw or pine straw mulch to prevent soil erosion and hold seeds in place. Be aware that using material such as bahiagrass or bermudagrass hay as mulch may lead to these grasses becoming established. Also, make sure straw mulch is from a reputable source and free of cogongrass and johnsongrass.

Supplemental Wildlife Food Planting Manual for the Southeast

Food Plot Maintenance

Properly prepared food plots do not require a lot of maintenance, but some maintenance is crucial. You’ll also save time and money as you maintain the plots instead of starting from scratch. Continue testing your soil twice a year to see if you need to apply more lime or fertilizer. If there is a dry season, consider irrigation. When your plots are healthy all year round, your deer will thrive. As a steward of your land, you are responsible for making sure the deer have access to nutritious forage every day. 

Looking for Hunting Land?

Southern AgCredit is an agricultural lender serving northern Louisiana and Mississippi. We love the outdoors and are experts on financing rural land for deer hunting and recreation. If you are in the market and are looking for a great loan, contact us or send us a message below. We’ll work with you to finance the land of your dreams.

Hobby Farming in Louisiana and Mississippi

Hobby and small-scale farming is growing across the United States as more people become interested in producing their own food, particularly in times of unexpected shortages. But what is a hobby farm, exactly? And how are they regulated? We explore what a hobby farm is, what you can grow, and the regulations you may need to adhere to if you start your own.

What Is a Hobby Farm? 

There are many types of hobby farms, but they all begin as a hobby—a person growing crops and/or raising animals because they like it. A farm is classified as a hobby farm when the farmer has a main source of income outside the farm. There is no expectation for hobby farmers to make money at all. Though some hobby farmers operate as a small business and make money on their operations by selling at farm stands, farmers markets, and local stores.

Benefits of Hobby Farming

Express Your Values

By farming yourself, you know that the products you make are ethically raised. This includes the way you treat the environment, the pesticides you use (or don’t use), what you feed your animals, and the condition of your farm. Farming products made with high ethical standards may be valuable to you beyond the money that you can potentially make.


Depending on the revenue (if any) you make from your hobby farm, you may be exempt from paying taxes on that income. If you choose not to file taxes on hobby farm income, however, you will forfeit the ability to deduct any losses you incur on your tax return.  


There is no pressure for a hobby farmer to become a larger operation because you still maintain your main source of income. Many hobby farmers start out small and grow their farm bit by bit. 

This way, you can grow what you want, when you want, and only add what you love. If you start doing something that you don’t find rewarding or don’t like doing, you can switch to something else! 

Hobby Farm Products & Services

The following farm products and services are popular on farms in Mississippi and Louisiana (including hobby farms):

  • Fiber
  • Eggs
  • Fruits & Vegetables
  • Grains & Cereals
  • Meat & Poultry
  • Trees, Flowers & Landscaping Plants
  • Succulents & Indoor Plants
  • Bees, Honey & Pollination Services

Choosing Plants & Crops

If you don’t know what you want to grow, start by finding your climate zone to see what grows best where you will have your farm. Louisiana has climate growing zones 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, and 10a, and Mississippi has zones 7a, 8a, and 8b. Browse some varieties of plants great in each of these zones:

Choosing Livestock

There is an incredible variety of animals that thrive on farms in the south, but choose a breed that is made to thrive in a hot climate. Establish your herd slowly to make sure you add animals that you enjoy. For example, if you want to start raising chickens, try three to six at first (chickens are happiest with friends).  If you don’t like them, they can easily be rehomed. Then, you can try out something else, like a pair of Nubian goats. Make sure that the size of your acreage supports the livestock you bring aboard.

Rules and Regulations

A hobby farm is small, both in size and in revenue. Your hobby farm may be small enough to exempt it from the local, state, and federal rules and regulations that govern larger farming operations.

You can learn more about these regulations, broken down by farm product, in the Direct Farm Business Guides for Louisiana and Mississippi. These guides contain information on specific crops, the licenses you’ll need to sell them, and the thresholds for health and safety you’ll have to meet. Generally speaking, the more you sell, the more regulated your farm will be. 

Hobby Farm Land

With rural land available for purchase in Louisiana and Mississippi, moving to the country to start the hobby farm you’ve always dreamed of is within your reach. You can browse available rural properties via online services like Landsofamerica.com.

Our lenders are very familiar with rural property so take advantage of getting to know one of our rural expert loan officers. We can help you finance the perfect property for a hobby farm.

Insurance for Hobby Farms

Even if you do not turn a profit, your money is invested in your hobby farm. Make sure that the gear you have accrued, which may include barns and sheds, fencing, tractors and more, is properly insured. Your specific farm may be insured under a farm policy, or you may be insured under a homeowner’s policy with additional riders. Document your purchases with photos, video and ownership papers, and have your agent help you insure them for their replacement value should they be damaged or stolen.

Financing for Hobby Farms

Hobby farms are generally built on land that contains your home in the country. Southern AgCredit offers financing for country homes in many areas of Louisiana and all of Mississippi. We offer homesite loans in agriculturally zoned properties as well as construction home loans on existing rural property. 

We also offer financing for many of the items you need to run a hobby farm. This includes financing for livestock, growing crops, and equipment.

Take the First Step

Contact Southern AgCredit to tell us about the hobby farm you want to build, and we will help you take the next step to finance it. Fill out the form below.

Guide to Greenhouses for Southern Gardeners

The COVID-19 pandemic inadvertently created a new generation of gardeners. Gardening eases our boredom, soothes our nerves, and provides food during a time of inflation. While millions of people began to garden as a coping mechanism, many are now in the third year of their new favorite hobby. 

If you are considering taking your gardening hobby to the next level, consider adding a greenhouse. In this article, we will explore why people in Louisiana and Mississippi use greenhouses, whether to buy or DIY, and the variety of design options available.

Why Greenhouses?


In both Mississippi and Louisiana, we usually have at least one significant cold snap each year. Many of us won’t forget the arctic outbreak of February 2021. At one point, Shreveport fell to a low of one single degree Fahrenheit. One degree!

After spending months tending to your outdoor plants, you don’t want to lose them in a freeze. By moving your plants to the greenhouse, you give them a chance at surviving the cold. 

Starting Seeds

You can more easily control the temperature and humidity inside a greenhouse. During a cold spring, this can help you grow vegetables and other plants from seed. Then you can transfer the seedlings when the outdoor temperature is right. Use space in your greenhouse to propagate root cuttings of houseplants, herbs, roses, and more.

Critter Protection

There is a gardening rule closely related to Murphy’s Law: if there are plants you don’t want animals to eat, animals will try to eat them. Deer, rabbits, groundhogs, foxes—they’re all hungry, and your baby lettuce smells like dinner. With the right materials (deer can tear through some plastic sheeting), you can mitigate some damage animals can cause. 

Greenhouse Elements


In the summer, the sun rises in the northeast and sets in the northwest. In the winter, we receive the most sunlight on the south and southeast side of a house. If you orient your greenhouse north-south, some crops will receive more sunlight than others. This article includes more information on site selection and orientation for greenhouses.

Heating, Cooling, and Ventilation

You will need reliable heating, cooling, and ventilation to properly grow seed trays and plants. This HVAC article from the UGA extension school goes over all types of heating systems and includes information on:

  • Heat conduction, convection heat transfer, radiation heat transfer, and factors affecting heat loss.
  • Ventilation systems including exhaust fans, pressure fans, evaporative cooling, mist cooling, and natural ventilation.


These elements can help make gardening more pleasurable and convenient:

  • Waist-high benches are great for helping the sun hit your plants. Working at this level is also much more comfortable for the gardener. You can also use these benches for workspace and shelving.
  • Water access: if your spigot is far away, consider running a pipe to the greenhouse for a convenient water source.
  • Automatic controls and electricity: set it and forget it. You won’t have to constantly worry about the humidity and temperature of the greenhouse if there is a thermostat that automatically helps with regulation. 

Buying a Greenhouse

Greenhouse Kits

Many online retailers and big box stores offer the equivalent of an IKEA greenhouse. Though less expensive than buying a professionally made greenhouse and having it installed, they can be more flimsy and are more susceptible to damage in inclement weather. If you buy a kit, make sure that you anchor the greenhouse to the ground. If not properly secured, a greenhouse kit you buy at the hardware store can blow over in 40mph winds.

Greenhouse Dealers

There are a number of reputable greenhouse builders and dealers who deliver to Louisiana and Mississippi, but you’ll pay a premium to have a fully assembled greenhouse delivered to your lot. These greenhouses can be customized with waterproof electrical outlets, overhead lights, vents, and even ceiling fans.

Download Free Greenhouse Design Plans

If you’d like to build your own greenhouse instead of purchasing a kit or prefabricated greenhouse, there are some free greenhouse plans available via Louisiana State University and Mississippi State University. These plans were primarily designed in the 1970s, so some informations might be outdated or missing tech innovations, but they are a solid jumping off point in terms of design, framing, and structure. Keep in mind that if you build a greenhouse, you should check with your local municipality about building codes and permits you may need.

The top recommendation for hobby farmers from horticulturists and greenhouse management experts is a Lean-To style greenhouse. A “lean-to” is half a greenhouse built onto the side of another structure. When you orient your lean-to on the south side of another structure, not only do you get all the sunlight from the south, you avoid the cold winter wind coming from the north.

A lean-to requires one less wall, so it is easier and less expensive to build than a freestanding structure. A big bonus is its sturdiness against weather events like hurricanes. 

Slant Leg Greenhouses

Home Greenhouse (10’ x 12’)

Combination Greenhouses

Greenhouse & Storage Building (10×14): designed half for storage and half as a greenhouse

More Information

We’ve only scratched the surface on what information is available about greenhouses. For more inspiration and information, visit these greenhouse sources:

Get More Room for Your Greenhouse

Want to build something bigger than an 8’ x 10” greenhouse? The sky’s the limit when you move to the country. Southern AgCredit helps make gardener dreams come true by financing country homes in rural areas of Louisiana and Mississippi. Start building the greenhouse of your dreams by contacting Southern AgCredit. Start a loan inquiry below.

Get to Know Stephen Bass

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 stephen.bass@southernagcredit.com.

Rural Internet Options in Louisiana and Mississippi

The lack of high-speed Internet options for rural residents of Louisiana and Mississippi was a problem before the pandemic. COVID-19 lockdowns and library closures have made clear what people living outside the city limits already knew: high-speed internet is an essential utility, and not enough people have it. 

The Scope of the Internet Access Issue: the Rural-Urban Broadband Divide

The pandemic has deepened what is referred to as the Rural-Urban Broadband Divide—a disparity that leaves millions of Americans behind. The reason why this divide exists in the first place is multipronged, but the main issue is that laying fiber optic cable lines is not profitable for for-profit utility companies to build. 

Construction of internet cable is time-consuming and difficult. When homes are close together, internet service providers are happy to make this investment, but in rural areas where locations are fewer and miles apart, it can be much more difficult.

As a result, rural communities in Louisiana and Mississippi suffer from a lack of high-speed internet every day. Imagine not being able to attend school online, hop on a Zoom call, place an online order, or send a business invoice. Mississippi and Louisiana have some of the lowest rates of rural broadband access in the country.

Recent Developments

Both Louisiana and Mississippi are receiving funds from the following federal grant and loan programs to bolster broadband infrastructure.

FCC Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund in August 2019 to bring high-speed internet to rural areas of our country. The program has provided $4.7 billion in funding to bring broadband to 2.7 million locations so far. 

In January and March 2022, the FCC announced that additional rounds of funding will be released to more unserved areas of the country as well as locations that had defaulted bids during Phase I and Phase II of the initial launch of the program.

FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program

“The Affordable Connectivity Program is an FCC benefit program that helps ensure that households can afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare and more.

The benefit provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.

“The Affordable Connectivity Program is limited to one monthly service discount and one device discount per household.”

National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is awarding grants to expand broadband infrastructure to twelve states and Guam. NTIA’s Broadband Infrastructure Program is funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act signed in 2021.

USDA ReConnect

Funded through the CARES Act of 2020, USDA’s ReConnect program provides grants, loans, and grant/loan combinations to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to build broadband and fuel long-term economic development in rural areas. 


Governor John Bel Edwards applauds the recent developments in state and federal broadband infrastructure funding. He said the broadband networks will “serve to connect the unconnected, bring digital inclusion and equity to our residents, and allow our rural communities to be competitive in the 21st Century.” Below are some programs being implemented. Governor Edwards has also established the Broadband for Everyone in Louisiana Commission to facilitate the process of building broadband for all residents.


Louisiana is adding broadband through the Rural Opportunity Fund. The FCC has published a list of the winning bidders, the number of locations they will serve, and the amount of each bid for Phase I. 


The Acadiana Planning Commission, covering Acadia Parish, Evangline Parish, and St. Landry Parish, was awarded $29,940,612. The Acadiana Regional Public/Private Partnership for the Deployment of a Fiber to the Home Network in the Rural Underserved Areas of Acadiana project is a last-mile broadband deployment designed to bring qualifying broadband to 22,196 unserved households.

Vice President Kamala Harris visited Louisiana on March 21st to raise awareness of the digital divide as well as announce the NTIA funding.

GUMBO Program

Louisiana’s Office of Broadband Development & Connectivity (ConnectLA)’s grant program, Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities, or GUMBO, is helping build rural broadband. The ISP contract winners for the first round of funding have been announced. 

USDA ReConnect Program

The USDA ReConnect program provides grants, loans, and grant/loan combinations to ISPs to build broadband to fuel long-term economic development in rural areas through the CARES Act.

Star Telephone Company received two ReConnect awards to build high-speed broadband infrastructure in Iberville, Pointe Coupee, and St. Landry Parishes. These awards are a 50 percent grant/50 percent loan.

Funding RoundNumber of HouseholdsAward AmountDetailsParishes
20192,609$15,525,694Creates or improves connectivity for 2,609 rural households, 16 pre-subscribed farms, 13 educational facilities, 2 healthcare centers, and 8 critical community facilities spread over 100.26 square miles.Iberville
Pointe Coupee
St. Landry
20201,472$12,321,244This Rural Development investment will be used to deploy fiber-to-the-premises broadband service in rural Louisiana. The funded service areas include 1,472 households, 5 educational facilities, and 2 essential community facilities spread over 191.64 square miles.Rapides
Pointe Coupee



Mississippi is also adding broadband through the Rural Opportunity Fund. The FCC has published a list of the winning bidders, the number of locations they will serve, and the amount of each bid for Phase I. 


In February, Mississippi received an NTIA award for $32,696,322. This grant is a last-mile and middle-mile broadband deployment across the entire state of Mississippi. It consists of ten unique projects that are designed to bring qualifying broadband to a total of 12,487 unserved households across ten counties.

Governor Tate Reeves said the following about the NTIA grant. “When Mississippi Public Utilities Staff approached us about whether a grant application should be submitted, I knew we absolutely had to proceed. Mississippi received the second-highest award total out of any state – a testament to the strength of our application and proof positive just how important these 10 projects are to not only Mississippi but to our country. My administration will continue to leverage every tool at our disposal to ensure all Mississippians, regardless of where they live, have access to the full breadth of benefits technology has to offer.”

The following entities will be funded through the Mississippi Public Service Commission:

ProjectCountyAward Amount
Bay Springs Smith CountySmith County$5,507,845.20
Bruce TelephoneCalhoun County$7,625,076.17
C Spire IssaquenaIssaquena County$894,780.00
C Spire Madison CountyMadison County$625,500.00
CableSouth Media 3 CollinsCovington County$1,755,000.00
Franklin TelephoneLincoln County$5,326,250.40
MaxxSouth New AlbanyBenton/Union County$3,072,303.78
MaxxSouth PontotocPontotoc County$1,693,345.18
Uplink CoahomaCoahoma County$4,859,330.58
We Connect Calhoun CountyCalhoun County$1,336,901.24

USDA ReConnect Program

The USDA ReConnect program provides grants, loans, and grant/loan combinations to ISPs to build broadband to fuel long-term economic development in rural areas through the CARES Act.

Two ISPs received 100% grants in the 2020 funding round to build high-speed broadband infrastructure in Mississippi

ISPNumber of HouseholdsAward AmountDetailsCounties
Tallahatchie Valley Electric Power Association878$16,091,872This Rural Development investment will be used to deploy a fiber-to-the-home network in rural Mississippi. The funded service areas include 878 households and nine essential community facilities spread over 474.74 square miles.Yalobusha
Bay Springs Telephone Company2,037$4,692,817This Rural Development investment will be used to deploy fiber-to-the-premises broadband service in rural Mississippi. The funded service areas include 2,037 households, five educational facilities, seven essential community facilities, and two healthcare facilities spread over 96.71 square miles.Jasper

Mississippi Electric Cooperatives Broadband COVID-19 Grant Program

Electric co-ops are now allowed to provide broadband thanks to a law passed by the Mississippi legislature in 2019. The Mississippi Electric Cooperatives Broadband COVID-19 Grant Program awarded money to ISPs to build broadband in areas unserved or underserved by broadband. You can view all the providers and their award amounts at the Mississippi Public Service Commission.

Broadband is Coming

While broadband may not have reached your particular parcel of rural land in Louisiana or Mississippi, the federal government as well as the government leaders of Louisiana and Mississippi are actively identifying unserved areas and allocating funds to bring broadband to you. To keep up with broadband providers in your area, visit the NTIA’s Broadband Availability Map.

At Southern AgCredit, we look forward to seeing all of our rural borrower-owners enjoy broadband on their farms, hunting camps, country homes, and more. For more information on financing your property in the country, contact a Southern AgCredit office near you.

Growing Healthy Lawns: Turf Management in Louisiana and Mississippi

For homeowners whose landscaping is a point of pride, the lawn is often considered their crown jewel. Since beautiful turf doesn’t just happen by itself, we’ve assembled some information on grass maintenance in your area of Louisiana and Mississippi. We are fortunate to have turf experts near us with all the information we need to improve our lawns.

Louisiana and Mississippi Growing Zones

First, it’s important to recognize your growing zone when consulting with a lawn expert or considering grasses for your landscaping. 


Plant hardiness zone map - Louisiana.


Plant hardiness zone map - Mississippi.

Most Common Grasses

Each type of lawn grass has varieties with its own water, mowing and light requirements. Research what seed or sod you’re purchasing, and consider consulting with a turf expert before you seed your lawn.

Type of Common TurfgrassHardiness ZonesMow Height (inches)Light
Bahiagrass7-113-4Full sun
Bermudagrass7-10⅜-1.5Full sun, poor shade tolerance
St. Augustinegrass8-102.5-3.0Full sun to moderate shade
Centipedegrass7-101.5-2.5Full sun to light shade
Zoysiagrass6-111.0-2.0Full sun to partial shade
Carpetgrass7-10¾-2.0Full sun to partial shade
Kentucky Bluegrass7a-7b2.5-3Full sun to moderate shade
Tall Fescue3-82.5-4.0Full sun to partial shade
Perennial Ryegrass (cool season)7-101.0-3.0Full sun, poor shade tolerance

Turf Maintenance Resources

Both Louisiana and Mississippi have rigorous college programs advancing the field of turf management. These departments are incredible resources for any turf issue you may come across.


LSU’s AgCenter has published the Turfgrass microsite, Louisiana Lawn Series: A Guide to Maintaining a Healthy Louisiana Lawn. The microsite covers topics such as:

  • Turfgrass species identification
  • Turfgrass management practices
  • Soils and soil fertility
  • Weeds
  • Insects and other pests
  • Diseases
  • Testing laboratories and services
  • Pesticide safety education and training
  • Testing laboratories and services
  • Ask an expert
  • Turfgrass groups and associations


The Mississippi State University Extension service is the go-to resource for turf concerns and resources in the state of Mississippi. 

The MSU Extension site has the following:

Free eBook on Home Lawns

MSU has published a comprehensive book on home lawns:

“The home lawn and turf areas surrounding churches, parks, and office buildings do more than just serve as pleasant green backdrops. The grass plants that make up the lawns serve as miniature air-conditioners and pollution-abatement centers. Download the PDF to learn more about establishing and maintaining your home lawn.”

Download Establish and Manage Your Home Lawn for free.

Common Turf Issues

Below are some of the most common turf issues that homeowners in Louisiana and Mississippi are currently experiencing. If you are experiencing a problem that’s not listed below, please refer to the turf maintenance resources.

Traffic Holes

​​There are no grasses that can hold up to regular wear and tear from children and dogs, with the exception of Bermuda grass. Using fertilizer and water, Bermuda grass recovers most quickly, which is the reason athletics fields in the south use it exclusively.


Identify weeds and read about controlling them safely via fertilization, mowing and herbicides. LSU’s Turfgrass Weed guide has extensive information on the following types of weeds:

  • Weedy grasses (e.g. barnyardgrass, annual bluegrass, torpedograss)
  • Sedges & grass-like weeds (e.g. nutsedge, false garlic, green kyllinga)
  • Broadleaf weeds (e.g. doveweed, mock strawberry, lespedeza)

Insects and Armyworms

Your lawn is susceptible to a variety of insects. High on the list of pests ruining lawns across Louisiana and Mississippi right now is the armyworm. Armyworm larvae can eat an entire lawn in one night. 

If you have a hayfield, MSU has a lot of advice for identifying and treating armyworms in pastures

LSU’s advice is geared toward home lawns. Check out LSU’s horticulturist Heather Kirk Ballard explaining more about identifying them in your yard and treating the infestation.

Finance Your Lawn in the Country

If you’re building or buying a home in the country, Southern AgCredit can help you with financing. To learn more or get started, contact Southern AgCredit today.

Ice Storm Prep for Rural Properties

If you live in a rural area of Louisiana or Mississippi, severe weather can be devastating. And even though we live in a relatively warm climate, we aren’t impervious to severe cold and ice storms. The North American winter storm that hit us in February 2021 caused significant devastation across the country. 

Locally, the storm caused thousands of traffic accidents and was officially declared a disaster by the federal government in both Louisiana and Mississippi. 

An ice storm of that magnitude can possibly happen again, and preparing may help you mitigate the effects of the storm. Below are some tips, products and information you can use to stay safe and warm this year and for years to come.

Tricks of the North

Southerners rarely come into contact with the everyday tools that people in colder climates use when dealing with ice and snow. Though these may be used sparingly, you won’t regret having some of them on hand. 

Rock Salt

Rock salt can be used on sidewalks, stairs, patios and driveways to prevent slipping on ice. Don’t handle the salt with your bare hands, and be judicious about the amount of salt you use. Carefully wash your pets’ paws if they step in salt, as it will irritate their paw pads. If you properly store rock salt in an airtight container, you can keep it indefinitely.

Tire Traction

Many Southerners have heard the term “tire chains,” but do they know what that means? We all know how well sand melts ice, so try as they might, roads will likely be impassable until it melts. If you have to leave your home and are worried about getting stuck, there are some tire gadgets that can help get you out of a rough spot. Search for tire traction chains, tire traction mats and trac-grabbers.

Ice Accessories

Here are some nice-to-haves that you may enjoy during an ice storm:

  • Windshield scraper for removing ice on your car windows
  • Over-the-shoe ice cleats to reduce slip and falls
  • Touch screen gloves to keep your hands warm while using your mobile device


Chances are if you live in a rural area, you use propane for cooking and heating your home. The good news is that your home will likely stay warm. The bad news is that you’ll be using quite a bit more propane to heat your home and may risk running low or even running out. Propane tanker trucks could be running behind or unable to travel at all if the roads are too inaccessible. 

During the winter months, try to make sure that your tank is regularly topped off by enrolling in a regular fill schedule with your propane company. 

Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes were a major issue during last year’s storm. There were boil water notices, burst pipes and busted mains. 

First, prepare to be without water by storing some at your home. The same general FEMA-recommended rule applies to winter storms as it does to hurricanes: plan for one gallon per person, per day. If you are able, try to keep enough for two weeks. 

Second, try to keep your pipes from freezing. If you have pipes that are exposed to cold air, you can purchase wrap or tube insulation from the hardware store. You can even wrap pipes and spigots with old towels and duct tape if you’re in a pinch. If you notice a frozen pipe, you can use an electric hairdryer to thaw it. However, don’t leave the dryer unattended. 

Third, you may have read that you need to keep your faucet dripping in order to keep the pipes flowing. That’s one way, but that method helps contribute to low water pressure across the whole system. 

Treeline Maintenance

Your risk of knocking down power lines increases in rural areas, and it may make roads impassable. Sleet-covered trees will snap or blow over during a winter storm. If a fallen tree has caused an impasse on your property or on a public road, be 100 percent sure that there is no power line under the tree before you attempt to clear it. 

Generator Safety

Hundreds of thousands of people lost power last year during the winter storm, and tragically, lives were lost due to house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you are going to use a generator to power your home during a blackout, please consider the following warnings very carefully:

  • Only heat your home with something designed to heat a home. This includes your fireplace, central heat and safely operated and monitored space heaters. Do not use an oven, stove or other burning device to create heat for your home.
  • Never run your car in a closed garage.
  • Do not take your generator inside, ever. Keep it as far away from the home as you can, as they create quite a bit of carbon monoxide.

Report Outages and Down Power Lines

If your power goes out, there’s no guarantee that your utility company will know about the issue. Let them know by reporting the outage on their app, website or by phone.

Many electricity providers in Louisiana and Mississippi now offer mobile apps, and if you allow notifications, the app can send you information on outages and restorations. However, even if you download your utility’s app, consider keeping both their number and your account number written down on paper just in case.

The chart below contains numbers to report outages and down power lines to electrical providers in the areas that Southern AgCredit serves.

Louisiana Electricity Providers

For urgent help with down power lines, you may also call 911.

Electricity ProviderReport Outages &
Down Power Lines
Outage Map
Claiborne Electric Co-op(800) 900-9406Outage Map
Cleo Power(800) 622-6537Outage Map
Entergy Louisiana(800) 968-8243Outage Map
City of Minden Utilities(318) 377-2144n/a
Panola-Harrison Electric Co-operative(800) 972-1093Outages text message alerts
City of Ruston Utilities(318) 255-1316n/a
SLEMCO(888) 275-3626Outage Map
SWEPCO(888) 218-3919Outage Map

Mississippi Electricity Providers

For urgent help with down power lines, you may also call 911.

Electricity ProviderReport Outages &
Down Power Lines
Outage Map
Canton Municipal Utilities(601) 859-2474n/a
Central Electric Power Association(601) 267-3043Outage Map
Coast Electric(877) 769-2372Outage Map
Collins, MS Electric Utility(601) 765-4491n/a
Delta Electric Power Association(662) 453-6352n/a
Dixie ElectricSmarthub app
(601) 425-2535
Outage Map
East Mississippi Electric Power(601) 581-8600Outage Map
Entergy Mississippi(800) 968-8243Outage Map
Greenwood Utilities Commission(662) 453-7553n/a
Magnolia Electric Power Association(601) 684-4011Outage Map
Mississippi Power(800) 487-3275Outage Map
Natchez Trace Electric Power(662) 456-3037
After Hours:
(662) 456-6185
(662) 456-6186
Pearl River Valley EPA855-277-8372n/a
Philadelphia, MS Utilities(601) 656-1121n/a
Singing River Electric CooperativeSmarthub app
Lucedale: (601) 947-4211
Gautier: (228) 497-1313
Outage Map
Southern Pine Electric(800) 231-5240Outage Map
Southwest Mississippi Electric Power AssociationSmarthub app
(800) 287-8564
Outage Map
Tallahatchie Valley Electric(662) 563-4742Outage Map
Twin County Electric Power(662) 827-2262
After hours:
(866) 897-7250
Public Service Commission of Yazoo City(662) 746-3741n/a
Yazoo Valley Electric Power Association(662) 746-4251
(888) 484-4277

Stay Put and Enjoy the Quiet

If we have another ice storm, and you’re properly prepared, we recommend staying put and enjoying the quiet. Mother Nature will melt the roads eventually. 

Southern AgCredit works to help our customer-owners realize their dreams of living in the country. For more information on financing land for yourself, contact an office near you.

How to Prepare Your Garden for Freezing Temperatures

The climate is predictably unpredictable in our part of the country. Each year we hope to avoid winter weather whiplash, but in January, one day it may be 70 degrees outside and then 23 degrees the next.

The ice storm of February 2021 brought record lows to Louisiana and Mississippi. In addition to shivering temperatures, the cold front brought a dangerous amount of snow and sleet. 

Tips for Winter Garden Protection

Was your garden prepared for precipitation and single digits? This type of weather event could happen again, and the change can put a lot of stress on your garden. So, in order to preserve some of your hard work and prized plants, we have some tips for protecting your garden from severe cold and ice. 

1. Bring Your Pots Inside

This may seem intuitive, but it bears repeating: bring those pots and planters inside! For example, if you have a potted plant that usually stays outdoors, you can avoid it becoming damaged by temporarily bringing it indoors.

2. Know Your Vegetables

Some winter vegetables such as kale, collards and cabbage can endure a hard freeze. While others cannot handle frozen temps. It’s important to know which ones can endure winter weather and which cannot. If possible, vegetables that thrive in a warmer climate should be harvested prior to harmful winter weather.

3. Spray Fruit Trees and Bushes

If your fruit trees or shrubs are budding, you can protect them by spraying them with water. If they’re wet, the hydrogen bonds that form ice during a freeze release a small amount of heat that is then locked in with the buds. This ice will also help protect them from wind and sleet.

4. Covers Your Plants

Coverings can help protect your plants, but they can only help to a certain point. When you use covers, make sure that they extend all the way to the ground in order to trap any ground heat. Covers cannot properly protect against extremely cold temperatures, but they can help protect against sleet and wind. 

If you have very prized plants that you cannot move indoors, consider using multiple layers of covers on a particular plant. Like layering winter clothing, it can provide some extra warmth and protection, but avoid creating too much extra weight on top of the plant. 

5. Don’t Forget the Fish

Do you have a koi pond? Make sure your koi stay safe and healthy through a winter freeze. First, adjust their feeding schedule. The digestive systems of koi slow down when temperatures fall. Do not feed them if the water is below 41 degrees. Also, make sure the pond water is moving with the use of an aerator. If the cold snap will last long enough to freeze the pond completely solid, move the koi inside

Southern AgCredit Connects People With Land They Love

Don’t panic! If you lose any plants during a freeze, keep in mind that even master gardeners lose plants every season. One of the best things about gardening is the ability to experiment and add new types of shrubs, flowers, trees and vegetables to your yard.

If you’re a nature enthusiast and are thinking of purchasing land in the country, Southern AgCredit is an experienced land bank that finances life outside the city limits. Learn more about our loans for country homes and recreational land or contact a loan officer near you.

All About Prescribed Burning

Learn about Controlled Burning Practices and Get Certified to Perform Them

Did you know that 34.41 million acres of Mississippi and Louisiana are forestland? That makes up 65 percent of Mississippi’s land base, and 50 percent of Louisiana’s. That’s a lot of vegetation, environment, and animal life to keep healthy. And fire is a big part of that.

The Benefits of Prescribed Burning

It’s rare that we hear about fires as a good thing, but they are an important and vital tool used by trained professionals to keep forests and woodlands healthy. The fact is, there are several ecosystems that depend on fire to flourish. The U.S. Department of Agriculture notes that a prescribed fire can:

  • Reduce hazardous fuels
  • Minimize the spread of pest insects and disease
  • Remove unwanted species that threaten species native to an ecosystem
  • Provide forage for game
  • Improve habitat for threatened and endangered species
  • Recycle nutrients back to the soil
  • Promote the growth of trees, wildflowers, and other plants

Prescribed fire, also called a controlled burn, is performed during particular times and under certain conditions to limit any threat to the public, or uncontrollable spreading. These burns are carefully planned by burn managers. Plans include maps, the best times to burn, and burn targets. Burn targets usually include dead grass, fallen branches, dead trees, and thicker sections of undergrowth. 

Types of Controlled Burns

According to National Geographic, there are typically two types of prescribed burns: broadcast burning and pile burning. Broadcast burning includes large, controlled fires across hectares of land. Pile burning, on the other hand, is focused on smaller, individually burned piles of vegetation or debris. The second is more commonly used when conditions for broadcast burning aren’t safe, or to burn remnants of forest thinning and logging operations.

Performing a Prescribed Fire

If you own a tract of land that could benefit from a prescribed fire, the first step is to call a professional. Controlled burns are carefully planned and executed by trained personnel with specific goals. Nobody should start lighting fires on their land without the guidance of a trained burn manager.

Interested in becoming a burn manager? There’s a training program for that.

Prescribed Burn Trainings


The Mississippi Forestry Commission offers the Prescribed Burning Short Course several times a year. This class allows anyone in Mississippi to become a Certified Prescribed Burn Manager.

Though the class is normally for several days, it has been condensed to a one-day session due to COVID-19.

To complete the one-day Prescribed Burning Short Course, participants must first complete the online delivery of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s (NWCG) course “S-190 – Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior.”

Visit Mississippi Forestry Commission to learn more.


The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry offers a Certified Prescribed Burner Program. Act #589, passed in 1993, instructs the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry to conduct the training required for people to meet the standards for identification as a Certified Prescribed Burner. 

In order to meet the standards for identification as a Certified Prescribed Burner, an individual must:

  • Have received either formal or on-the-job training in prescribed burning
  • Have conducted five burns as the supervising professional
  • Burn with a written prescribed burn plan
  • Adhere to all Louisiana Voluntary Smoke Management Guidelines and Voluntary Best Management Practice Guidelines
  • Meet the Louisiana Notification of Burn directives
  • Successfully pass the certification exam with a score of 70% or higher

If you’re interested in completing the program, contact your preferred contractor from the prescribed burning contractor list provided. Visit Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry to learn more.

Financing For Your Future Forest

If you own land, and you’re looking to utilize a prescribed fire to better nourish your land, please be safe. Get the training you need and leverage control fires appropriately. If you’re looking for land to care for, whether as a timber and forest product, hunting and recreational land, or country home, Southern AgCredit can help! Get in touch with us today and let’s explore your financing options.

Higher Education Programs in Forestry

Degrees Programs for Future Foresters of Louisiana and Mississippi

Why Forestry Education

Timber is big business in our neck of the woods (no pun intended). If you’re interested in a career related to forestry, opportunities abound. Before you apply, you’ll need to make sure you’re qualified for the position. 

Professional foresters have deep institutional knowledge of the forestry industry, in addition to expertise on forest ecology and management. Having an associate degree in forestry technology or a bachelor’s degree in forestry will demonstrate to employers that you’ve acquired additional training.  

Careers in Forestry

Forestry technicians and professional foresters can take many professional routes in Louisiana and Mississippi. Some employers include:

Browse more job opportunities at forestryusa.com 

Forestry Education Paths

Generally speaking, if you’re interested in a career in forestry and want to earn a degree, there are different paths you may take:

  1. Community College

The first option is to attend a community college. Many community colleges in Louisiana and Mississippi offer a two-year associate degree in forestry technology. When you graduate from an accredited community college forestry technology program, you can officially put “forestry technician” on your resume.

  1. Transfer

Many community colleges in both Louisiana and Mississippi can help you earn an associate degree at a community college and then transfer to a four-year college or university.

  1. Four-Year Colleges and Universities

Graduate from an accredited four-year college or university in order to be qualified to be a professional forester. 

Forestry Programs in Louisiana and Mississippi


Louisiana has three universities and two technical community college programs for forestry. 

Community Colleges

Central Louisiana Technical Community College

Huey P. Long Campus
Winnfield, LA 

“The Forest Technology program prepares students to produce, protect, and manage timber; maintain and operate related equipment; and select, grade, harvest, and market forest raw materials for converting into a variety of consumer goods.”

Students may earn the following:

  • Technical Diploma in Forest Technology
  • Certificate of Technical Studies in Forest Harvesting & Planting Assistant
  • Certificate of Technical Studies in Forest Technician Site Assistant
Sowela Technical Community College

Main Campus
Lake Charles, LA

“The Forest Technology program prepares students to produce, protect, and manage woodland resources. Coursework also includes how to maintain and operate related equipment and harvest raw forest materials for converting into a variety of consumer goods.”

Students may earn the following:

  • Technical Diploma in Forest Technology
  • Certificate of Technical Studies in Forest Harvesting & Planting Assistant
  • Career and Technical Certificate in Resource Management Assistant

Four-Year Colleges

Louisiana Tech University
School of Agricultural Sciences and Forestry

Ruston, LA

Louisiana Tech’s Forestry program is accredited by the Society of American Foresters. The program offers two concentration options:

Forestry Management Concentration

“This broad field incorporates biological, physical, ecological, and managerial sciences to help future foresters earn and grasp and appreciate the deep commitment required to understanding and appreciating—and conserving—the world’s forest resources.”

Wildlife Habitat Management Concentration

“This academic program and specific focus on wildlife habitats is designed for students who want to learn about conservation and management techniques that support sustainable wildlife populations and their habitats.”

Louisiana State University
School of Renewable Natural Resources

Baton Rouge, LA

Students at LSU graduate with a bachelor’s degree in natural resources ecology and management and can choose an area of concentration. Six areas of concentration are accredited by the Society of American Foresters:

  • forest resource management
  • forest enterprise
  • wildlife habitat conservation and management
  • conservation biology
  • ecological restoration
  • wetland science
Southern University and A&M College
Agricultural & Mechanical College

Baton Rouge, LA

Students at Southern University may earn a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in Urban Forestry. 

“Today, the Department of Urban Forestry and Natural Resources at SU has the most comprehensive Urban Forestry Higher Education Program in the nation and has been recognized as a leader in graduating the diverse, talented next generation of urban forestry and natural resources professionals for the country.”


Community Colleges

East Mississippi Community College

Scooba, MS Campus

“Forestry Technology is an instructional program that prepares individuals to produce, protect, and manage timber and other forest crops. Students enrolled in the program will participate in a variety of learning experiences related to land and forest measurements, growth processes of timber stands, tree identification, timber and forest products harvesting, timber stand management, forest protection, and forest products utilization.

“Forestry Technology is a two-year technical program. An Associate of Applied Science degree is awarded upon successful completion of the curriculum. Enrollment is open in either the fall or spring semesters.”

Itawamba Community College

Fulton, MS Campus

“The Forestry Technology program prepares individuals to assist foresters in the management and production of forest resources. It includes instruction in woods and field skills, tree identification, timber measurement, logging and timber harvesting, forest preparation and regeneration, forest firefighting, resource management, equipment operation and maintenance, recordkeeping, sales and purchasing operations and personnel supervision.”

Northwest Mississippi Community College

Desoto Campus, Southaven, MS

“Forestry is designed for a student who wishes to major in forestry or one of its two divergent areas of study—Forestry or Wildlife and Fisheries Science. A student will receive an Associate of Arts degree upon completion of this two-year program of study.”

Jones County Junior College

Ellisville, MS Campus

“Classroom work, outdoor labs, and Jones County Junior College are utilized to provide learning experiences for the students in all phases of applied forestry. This Program will also provide students with the necessary scientific skills, mathematical theories, and field techniques which will allow them to professionally perform the duties of a forestry technician. Upon completion of all course work, a Technical Certificate or the Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S) degree is awarded.”

Holmes Community College

Goodman, MS Campus

“The Forest Technology program is designed to immerse students in various natural resources topics, including tree identification, forest protection and management, wildlife management, timber harvesting, and forest product utilization, volume estimation, environmental protection, forestry certifications, mapping, and navigation. This applied science prepares individuals to work alongside foresters and other natural resource professionals to achieve a wide array of management objectives. Forestry Technology is a two-year technical program. An Associate of Applied Science degree is awarded upon successful completion of the curriculum.”

Four-Year College

Mississippi State University

College of Forest Resources, Department of Forestry
Starkville, MS

MSU is Mississippi’s only four-year university training for forestry professionals. They offer a Bachelor of Science in Forestry and offer six concentrations:

  1. environmental conservation
  2. forest business
  3. forest management
  4. forest products
  5. urban forestry
  6. forestry / wildlife management

“Graduates of the major are qualified to become a Registered Forester in Mississippi after successfully completing an examination for this purpose with the Board of Registration for Foresters (BORF) in Mississippi. Graduates are also qualified to become Society of American Forester Certified Foresters by successfully completing an exam.”

MSU also offers an M.S. in forestry and a Ph.D. in forest resources.

Adjacent Programs

Hinds Community College’s Logging Academy

Raymond, MS Campus

“Hinds Community College is offering a Logging Academy Program in partnership with Mississippi Logging Association and Mississippi Forestry Commission. The academy is an 8- to 16-week program designed to equip students with little or no experience to become a logging equipment operator with safety certifications as well as Professional Logging Manager (PLM) status.”

Timberland Property Financing

Southern AgCredit is a major supporter of the timber and forest industry in Louisiana and Mississippi. If you’re a new timber owner starting out or an existing business, we offer financing for property, equipment, operating lines of credit, and more. To learn more about how we can help your timber business, please contact the office near you.

Get to Know Kelly Coleman

Meet Southern AgCredit’s Relationship Manager in Ruston, Louisiana

After twenty years in commercial lending, Kelly Coleman is glad to be back where he started: agricultural lending. Now a relationship manager with Southern AgCredit, this native Louisianan is inspired to serve Southern AgCredit’s borrower-owners in our growing Ruston office. 

Where did you grow up?

Kelly: I was born in Monticello, Louisiana, in East Carroll Parish and grew up on a 2,000-acre crop and cattle farm. It was a very rural environment. Monticello didn’t have a stop sign or a red light, but it had a cotton gin and a school. My graduating class of 19 kids was one of the largest the school had up until that point. 

Did you have to work on the farm? 

Kelly: You know I did! [laughs] Every day there was something to take care of. My work ethic and self-discipline can be attributed to growing up on the farm. My parents and grandparents were good to their neighbors, and it taught me how to help others. 

You also learn how to build things—weld, run saws, and mend fences. That’s been very valuable in my life.

You have a degree in agricultural education from Louisiana Tech. How did you get into agricultural lending?

Kelly: I was originally majoring in agriculture business, but things were terrible in the economy the whole time I was in college. Land values were collapsing and commodity prices were falling. So, I switched to agriculture education. I graduated with a degree thinking that I was going to teach agriculture in the school systems. Then, I interviewed for the internship program with the [then] Federal Land Bank of Jackson, Mississippi, and they hired me.  

Where have you worked since your internship?

Kelly: After my internship, I went to work for the Federal Land Bank in Louisiana for 15 years. Then I moved to Oak Grove, Louisiana, in 2000 to go into commercial banking. I worked on everything from gas stations and convenience stores to multi-level housing projects. 

I could not be happier to be back in Farm Credit.

“Some people just know they want some property, and with my experience, I can lead them and guide them. People need options and direction. I do everything I can to make it happen.”

Tell us about your family.

Kelly: My wife, Tralynn, and I have six adult children and five grandchildren. All of them live in Louisiana. 

Tell us about being a pastor.

Kelly: I’ve been in pastoral ministry since 2011, and I’m currently the bivocational pastor of Culbertson Baptist Church, about 10 miles north of Ruston in Farmerville. It’s a small church of about 40-50 people.

How has ministering been different during the pandemic?

Kelly: I’ve spent most of my ministry time during the pandemic either teaching or preaching from a porch. The church has an FM transmitter, and the people would park in the church lot like a drive-in movie theater. 

How has working at Southern AgCredit been different during the pandemic? 

Kelly: Serving people in the loan business was tough because I like shaking someone’s hand and getting to know them. 

When I started here in January, Southern AgCredit handed me a laptop, and we are now able to access anything we need from our vehicles or our homes. We are equipped with the technology to be efficient and take care of people’s business, whether we are working from the office or working remotely.  

What do you enjoy about agricultural lending?

Kelly: I like making a difference in people’s lives—helping them meet their goals of owning their own place or improving their operation. I like helping people. 

It means a lot to me to serve other people. In serving, I find joy. Sometimes it’s not all positive. Sometimes people find themselves in problematic situations, and you have to find a way to help them if at all possible—same as ministry. 

When I talk to somebody and find out what their goal is, and we can make that happen, a closing is very rewarding for the lender as well as the person receiving the loan. 

What do you like about working at Southern AgCredit?

Kelly: Honestly, I love everything about Southern AgCredit. I have found Southern AgCredit has a genuine interest in providing competitive products. These products are phenomenal, with good interest rates and are much more competitive than other lenders.  

The efficient way Southern AgCredit runs their business and supports people is very unique. They are very compassionate to their employees and they also do their very best to make the applicants happy. 

If at all possible, we are going to structure something that fits the appetite of the person getting the loan. Not everyone operates that way. 

Do you have any Southern AgCredit stories that you’d like to share? 

Kelly: I’ve found myself meeting with borrowers that I’ve known through the years. There have been numerous borrowers that we deal with that I know, went to school with and made loans to.

I had a guy come in yesterday, and when I heard the name, I instantly remembered it. I went to meet him, and he said, “Kelly Coleman, where have you been?!” Turns out, I financed a home for him in 1989. It was nice catching up with him.

I appreciate our advertising campaigns. People say, “Heard you on the radio!” or “Saw you on a billboard.” It’s just really a blessing.

Contact Kelly Coleman in Ruston

If you are interested in a loan for your agricultural business, contact an expert. As Southern AgCredit’s relationship manager, Kelly deals with commercial accounts of all sizes—everything from small, part-time farms to large operations.

The Ruston, Louisiana, branch serves Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson, Lincoln, Ouachita, Union, and Webster parishes. You can visit their downtown office on Vienna Street from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or give Kelly a call at (318) 255-6539.

Southern AgCredit Sponsors the 2022 Mississippi Ag and Outdoor Expo

Join Southern AgCredit August 5-7 at the Mississippi Trademart

Southern AgCredit had so much fun at last year’s Mississippi Ag and Outdoor Expo that we’re back for more! Mississippi’s greatest agriculture and outdoor show returns with Southern AgCredit as the title presenting sponsor, hosted by the Foundation for Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.

What to Expect at the Expo

The New Mississippi Trademart

The Mississippi Ag and Outdoor Expo will be held in the Trademart building! The Trademart features 110,000 square feet of total space and 63,000 square feet of column-free, unobstructed exhibit space—plenty of room for the great many exhibitors coming to share the finest outdoor products and services available in Mississippi.

100+ Exhibitors

Whether you’re looking for agricultural products and services, hunting wares, or fishing goods, you’ll be covered. There will be worldwide guides and outfitters next to the top ATV, UTV, tractor, and power equipment brands.


Bulls, Bands, and Barrels are headed to the Mississippi Coliseum on August 6, 2022, at 7 p.m. Join the fun, with bull riding, barrel racing, ultimate bullfighters, two-time PBR World Champion Chris Shivers, and a live concert featuring Chase Matthew with Justin Champagne and Cole Jones. The gates open at 5:30 p.m., with a Cole Jones pre-party at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door (if they last), but online tickets are available now.

Southern AgCredit at the Expo

As the presenting sponsor of the Expo, we’ll also be at the show. You’ll find us at our new, larger exhibition space in the back corner of the Trademart.

Our exhibition space will feature Southern AgCredit’s Furry Farm Friends Petting Zoo! This is a great space for animal lovers young and old to spend some time with farm animals, grab pictures, and share a few smiles before entering the expo. (Be sure to use the hashtag #furryfarmfriends.) 

We’ll also have agents on hand to discuss Southern AgCredit loan products, like agribusiness loans, land loans, livestock loans, poultry loans, and country home financing with 15 to 30-year terms.

2022 Mississippi Ag and Outdoor Expo Details

Ready for the show? Here are all the details.


August 5-7, 2022


Mississippi Trademart Center
Mississippi State Fairgrounds
1207 Mississippi St. Jackson, MS 39202 (map)


Friday: 12—7 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m.—7 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m.—5 p.m.


Adults: $12
Kids 6-15: $6
Kids 5 and under: Free

  • Tickets will be available for purchase by cash or card at the show entrance.
  • Sunday is Family Day, all kids are all free from open to close.

Follow Us On Facebook for Expo Updates

To stay up-to-date on all the Mississippi Ag and Outdoor Expo’s goings-on, follow the event on Facebookus as well, if you haven’t already. See you at the expo!

Converting Row Crop Land

Other Uses for Your Acres

Famously fertile, the agricultural land of Mississippi and Louisiana can grow an incredible variety of row crops such as cotton, corn and soybeans. We could go on and on, but the point is, with our temperature, annual rainfall and soil quality, most crops grow very well in both states.

What if you’d like to convert some of your row crop land into something else? Perhaps you’re looking to diversify your farm, or it may be that the price of your crops is presently unsustainable.

If you’re ready to switch it up, we have two great options to consider: catfish ponds and forage pasture.

New Land Use: Catfish Ponds

Catfish is Mississippi’s seventh-largest agricultural crop and Louisiana is one of the top 10 aquaculture industries in the United States. Using best practices, catfish grow quickly and consistently.

You can build catfish ponds on top of what used to be your crop acreage. These ponds should be designed and executed carefully to produce the best fish and maximize the life of the pond, typically 10 to 15 years.

Catfish Pond Construction Guidance

Construction of Levee-type Ponds for Fish Production” (PDF) from the Southern Regional Aquaculture Center takes you through the ideal size, layout, shape, depth, slope, soil and drainage for optimal catfish production.

The local Natural Resources Conservation Service office in Mississippi and Louisiana have technology that can help you plan the design of your catfish ponds. Plus, they can help you test your soil to make sure that it has the correct composition to hold the pond water you need.

Catfish Pond Costs

The building of a catfish pond can be a significant initial investment. Costs may include earth moving, installation of pipes and aerators, water supply, fingerlings, labor and equipment. Farmers who are starting an operation like this may consider getting an agricultural loan like the ones offered by Southern AgCredit.

New Land Use: Forage Crop & Pasture

If the livestock element of your business is booming, and you’ve run out of space, you may consider converting some of your row crop acreage to pasture. Creating a top-notch perennial grazing pasture requires careful planning and preparation of the seedbed, as well as ongoing fertilization and maintenance.

Cost of Pasture Conversion

Some of the biggest costs you’ll incur while converting your row crop land into pasture are fencing, a capable water source and adequate shade for livestock during the summer months. You might also consider spending more on quality seeds and fertilizers.

Pasture Establishment

In order to establish your pasture, keep the following in mind:

  • Soil fertility
  • Seedbed preparation (to till or not to till)
  • What to plant
  • How to plant
  • When to plant
  • Managing the graze

Helpful Forage Guides

Finance Your Farm Project With Southern AgCredit

When converting a piece of land from row crops to something different, it may take some time before you see a return on your investment. That’s why many farmers in Mississippi and Louisiana use Southern AgCredit to finance the construction of projects related to catfish and cattle operations. The loan officers at Southern AgCredit are experienced and can help you diversify your current operation. To get started, contact a loan officer at the branch near you.

Rural Pond Management in Mississippi and Louisiana

Ponds on rural properties need regular care to maintain their health. Properly maintained ponds can be a great place to paddle around, swim, fish, and improve wild habitats. However, poorly maintained ponds can be burdensome and possibly dangerous.

An unmaintained pond can cause many problems, including:

  • Propagation of invasive species
  • Death of fish and other pond inhabitants 
  • Seepage, causing erosion and damage to nearby structures

Check out these management practices rehabilitate the pond on your property.

Rural Pond Management Practices

Algae treatment

Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, grows in stagnant water. This bacteria is toxic to humans and most animals, including livestock, birds, fish, frogs and dogs.

One way to manage the algae is by using aquatic herbicides.

“The most common and versatile management strategy is the use of aquatic herbicides. In comparison to mechanical control, herbicides provide longer control, are less labor-intensive, provide flexibility and predictability, and are generally cost-effective. If conducted under ideal conditions and the product label is followed, the application of algaecides and aquatic herbicides will have minimal effects on the ecological balance, and several of the products have relatively short half-lives (hours to days).”
Louisiana State University (LSU) Ag Center’s “Harmful Algal Blooms” by Chang Jeong

Aquatic herbicide is only one tool in the toolbox for invasive weed and algae management. To learn about techniques that use less chemicals, visit Mississippi State University’s Weed Control site.

Pond aeration

Oxygen level is a primary attribute of a healthy pond. In Mississippi and Louisiana, pond oxygen can be severely depleted by high temperatures and heavy rainfall. One of the best ways to keep oxygen levels up is to make sure the water is circulating. Using aeration equipment, you can restore oxygen to your pond’s dissolved oxygen (DO) balance. 

Many types of aerators are commercially available. The one that is best for you depends on the size, depth and makeup of your pond. MSU’s Craig Tucker writes in “Pond Aeration” about the principles of aeration, common types of aerators and where and when to aerate. 

Pond alkalinity and pH

Generally speaking, if you have fish in your pond, the water should have an alkalinity of 20 ppm, and a pH value between 6.5 and 9.0. You may be familiar with how to test water for these values from using a pool water test kit. You can use the same type of kit to test your pond water. 

If the alkalinity of your water is low, you can bring it up by adding lime. Application of 4.5 pounds of lime per acre-foot of water increases the alkalinity by approximately one ppm. Dr. Wes Neal from MSU, in his article, “Do I need to add lime to my pond?” says to “use only agricultural or dolomitic limestone in ponds with fish populations.”

Pond re-shaping 

Ponds that have not been touched for many years may not have the correct depth or slopes. If that is the case for you, consider draining your pond. At that time, you can create optimal depths, install drainage and water flow equipment, compact the soil and treat the bottom. 

Pond edges

It may seem like a quick drop, but steep edges to your pond are good!

“To eliminate the shallow water where weeds thrive, a pond should have relatively steep sides and good depth. A good slope is one foot down every three feet across - for both fish habitat and weed reduction.”
Fred Snyder, Ohio State Extension Service

Pond depth

Ponds in Mississippi and Louisiana should not be too deep nor too shallow. 

“Ponds should have an average depth of five to six feet and be no more than 12 feet deep. At least half of the pond should be a depth of four to five feet. This lets fish forage on the bottom, even in summer when oxygen levels are lower. About 20% of the pond should be at least six feet deep to provide winter refuge and summer refuge in extremely dry years. It is also important that pond banks slope rapidly to three feet deep to minimize the risk of dangerous aquatic plants becoming established.”
James L. Cummins of Wildlife Mississippi, Farm Ponds and Small Lakes 

Rural Pond Management Resources

There’s an abundance of information available concerning pond construction and refurbishment in Mississippi and Louisiana. Below are some of the best resources available to learn what there is to know about pond habitats on your land.

Pond soil testing

By testing the soil of your pond, you will know if the soil has the proper components for water retention.

Pond management forums

Pond Boss has an online forum specifically for renovating a pond or lake. People from all over the country, including Mississippi and Louisiana, chronicle their pond renovation journeys, complete with pictures and commentary. 

Pond management guides



Get Financing For Rural Land

Whether or not the rural property you want to purchase has a pond on it, consider financing the land with Southern AgCredit. We’ve been financing rural land in Mississippi and Louisiana for generations. Get started by submitting a loan inquiry.

What to Look for in a Timber Tract

Are you interested in investing in timber? If you don’t know much about the timber industry and want to learn more about what makes a good investment tract, we have some tips. Here are some things to look for and forestry professionals you can consult with directly.

Features of Timberland Tracts

Tract Size

A common question people in the market for timberland ask is, “How much timberland should I buy?” For beginners with finite budgets, a smaller tract may seem like an easier, less intimidating option. However, there are some hidden costs to purchasing small tracts.

Harvesting Issues: Consider purchasing a tract large enough to take at least a week to harvest — around 40 acres. When that time comes, private logging crews will travel to you at their own expense with large, heavy equipment. Less than 40 acres may not be cost-effective for them to clear, and you may have trouble finding a crew to do the work. You could end up stuck with mature trees or go over budget if you have to harvest them yourself.

Lower Bulk Pricing: When purchasing products and services for your tract, the more you buy, the lower the cost per acre. You must manage a forest in order to be successful, and you will experience cost savings the larger your tract is. You will, however, incur extra costs for site preparation, seedlings, planting, fertilizer, thinning and consulting services. 

Proximity to Mills

The amount you are paid for your timber depends on a number of factors. One that you may be able to control is your tract’s distance to a sawmill. The closer you are, the better. The price you’ll fetch will be highest in an area with several competing sawmills.

Consult a Professional Certified Forester

Once you’ve found a tract you’re interested in, consider getting an expert assessment by hiring a certified forester from the Society of American Foresters (SAF). These professionals can look at a tract you’re interested in or a tract you already own. They’ll speak to you about:

  • The current and future potential value of the stand
  • Taxes programs, incentives and liabilities
  • The health of the tract: insects, diseases, wildlife and water quality
  • Risk of wildfires and the ability to mitigate them

Find certified foresters in Louisiana and Mississippi in the SAF Directory.

Join Your Local Forestry Association

Each county and parish has a forestry association that gives out valuable information about tree farms, hosts annual banquets and field days and provides scholarships. This is a great resource for anyone looking to learn about timber. 

Financial and Tax Information

One of the most important aspects of a quality timber tract is that you’re able to turn a profit. Making a profit isn’t just about selling the most timber — it’s also about money management. These financial resources can help you make informed decisions about when to purchase a tract and how to structure the sale of your harvested timber.

  • Texas A&M Forest Service has an online calculator that can help you determine a tract’s potential cash flow per acre.
  • The U.S. Forest Service’s national timber tax specialist, Linda Wang, updates a document each year offering tax tips for forest landowners. The document explains the different ways you can structure your timber investment and how those are taxed.
  • North Carolina State Extension Forestry sponsors a free webinar, “The Top Five Ways Forest Landowners Save Tax Dollars”, that teaches landowners how to decrease their federal income tax liability.

Finance Your Investment With Southern AgCredit

Southern AgCredit helps finance all types of timber operations, including young, beginning and small timber operations. We can also finance tracts that you are considering for your next investment. We offer loans and leases for milling, harvesting and hauling equipment. Learn more about our financing options by visiting Timber and Forestry loans and submitting your inquiry.

Get to Know Alex Riser, VP and Branch Manager for Southern AgCredit’s Gulfport Branch

Alex Riser, branch manager of Southern AgCredit’s Gulfport location, has overseen exponential growth in the Mississippi coastal region. What’s the secret to his success? It’s likely a combination of his experience as an avid outdoorsman, agricultural real estate broker and dedicated family man. In this blog learn more about how Alex uses his life and work experiences to benefit Southern AgCredit’s borrower-owners. 

Where are you from?

Alex: I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and raised in the small town of Picayune, Mississippi.

Tell us about your family.

Alex: My mother was originally from Canada. She was a registered nurse, took the big step on her own and moved down to New Orleans. She passed away in 2018. She was the first love of my life and I miss her dearly.

My dad is from Shreveport, Louisiana and is a primary care doctor in Picayune. He has been there for over 35 years. Not only is he my dad, he is a borrower of Southern AgCredit. He’s not my personal customer (we can’t work with family directly), but he is a stockholder and borrower within SAC. 

My wife, Allison, and my son, Denson—they’re my whole world. Denson is two-and-a-half years old. 

Describe your father’s property that he financed with Southern AgCredit.

Alex: He’s owns 300 acres in Holmes county. It’s hunting and recreational property. The property also has some farmland that we lease to a local farmer for row crops. It has a 20-acre lake on it. My dad’s a diehard freshwater fisherman. He loves putting his boat in the water and fishing for bass. 

My wife, son and I will usually load up in the truck to drive three and a half hours to stay for a weekend. My dad built a camp for the whole family to enjoy. I have an older brother with three children and a younger brother. It gives us all a place to go and relax. We all love being outdoors. 

You’re an outdoorsman?

Alex: Absolutely. I live and die by it. For the past ten years, I’ve taken the first week of November off for a whitetail deer hunt in the Midwest. I do most of the managing of my dad’s 300 acre property from a biology standpoint, including hunting, food plots and running tractors.

“I’ve probably hunted every part of Mississippi that you can hunt, so I believe I have some words of wisdom when people are looking at recreational tracts.”

Besides outdoor recreation, what else do you like to do away from work? 

Alex: We’re big-time sports fans. We love watching college football. We love baseball—I’m a big baseball guy and played baseball in college. We always enjoy going to baseball games, whether at a high school, a local junior college that I played at in Poplarville, or Southeastern Louisiana University where my brother is the head baseball coach.

If I’m not mowing grass, most of my time on the weekends is spent with Denson and Allison—goofing around and watching him grow during these early stages. 

Tell me about your position at Southern AgCredit.

Alex: I was the assistant vice president of lending, then in January of 2021 I was promoted to vice president. I am also the branch manager of the Gulfport branch down on the coast.

My role here is a bit of everything, but my biggest focus is growing the branch. Every day I oversee branch operations like reports and finances, and my goal is to find new loans in order to help us continue to grow.

That is how we’ve been able to increase our portfolio. After my first full year in 2018, we finished right at $9 million in new loan volume. Then in 2019, we were an $11 million branch. In 2020, we had a record-breaking year as a $17 million branch. So, we’ve grown exponentially and that is through being able to diversify our portfolio and finance loans in rural areas.

What is Southern AgCredit’s Gulfport office like?

Alex: We just completed a renovation project for our branch office. So, when I talk about our branch growing, we’re growing not only on paper in numbers and the amount of loans in our portfolio, we’re also growing physically in size. The project added 2,000 square feet to our building for an additional three new offices. We were able to hire a new loan officer and a new loan administrator for the Gulfport branch.

I am a firm believer in leaving something better than you found it—I believe that our branch is headed in that direction. I have long-term goals at Southern AgCredit that I want to achieve. We are able to see our growth on paper and then physically in our expansion progress and additional staff. Right now we’re reaping the benefits of our hard work. 

What did you do before you came to Southern AgCredit?

Alex: Before I joined Southern AgCredit, I spent almost ten years in real estate. 

I started my career with an agricultural / real estate company in Madison, Mississippi. Then, I wanted to go to the corporate side. So I started working with Mossy Oak Properties. I earned my accreditation as a Certified Land Specialist through Mossy Oak Properties’ Certified Land Specialist training program.

After Mossy Oak Properties, I helped start an ag real estate company and served as managing broker of 4 Corner Properties, which is a company that is still thriving today.

How does your real estate experience help you with the customers at Southern AgCredit?

Alex: The relationships I made in the real estate world are what I hold responsible for the growth here in Gulfport. I still have a lot of friends who are still working in real estate. They rely on me and I rely on them. Before, I only had a view of this from the real estate side, but now I’ve got a full view coming in on the lending side.

A prime example: this morning we closed a loan with a realtor whom I used to do deals with. During the closing he was a little confused on some title details. Back when I was in his shoes, I would not have understood those details either. 

Thanks to being on this side, I was able to speak his language and tell him how to fix it. They appreciate my knowledge coming from the other side of the table, so to speak.

Does your experience as an outdoorsman help your customers at Southern AgCredit?

Alex: If I were not an outdoorsman, I don’t think I could do what I do. It all goes hand-in-hand.

My portfolio is mostly hunting and recreational land, so every day I walk in thinking about either deer, ducks, or turkeys in some form or fashion. It’s not necessarily always about hunting, but the conservation aspect.

I’ve hunted probably every part of Mississippi that you can hunt, so I believe I have some words of wisdom when people are looking at recreational tracts. People can call me and ask for my advice on a piece of property that could be anywhere in Mississippi. 

We covered a lot of what makes a good tract in our recent blog, Guide to Buying Hunting Land.

Alex: Borrowers will call me, especially about properties that are not listed with real estate agents or land realtors, and say, “Hey man, I’m really looking at this tract. I want to know what you think about the hunting. What’s your history there? What do you know?” A lot of times I know the tract that they’re buying because of my contacts, and I’m always checking to see what’s available in our service area, hunting-wise.

These are long-term relationships and you have to know what you’re talking about to really help. From a conservation standpoint, I’ll get calls two or three years after we’ve made a loan with somebody, and they’ll say, “Our hunting has been a little rough, tell me what you’re doing.” Borrowers want to know what I think they need to do to help their deer herd, turkey flocks, or other wildlife on their property. I am by no means a biologist, but my experience gives me a pretty good idea of what I’m talking about when it comes to conservation. 

If you’re going to specialize in recreational and timber land, I think your success depends on what you know. One of the biggest rewards I get is seeing our borrowers doing conservation work and developing great recreational tracts. 

Can you tell whether someone has the time and energy to make an average piece of land better or if they really need to buy something ready to go?

Alex: That’s one of the questions I ask a potential borrower. What are they looking for? Do they want a bare property that’s step one on the drawing board? There are tracts like that out there that are a little cheaper, but what kind of time do they have? 

You have to figure out their patience. And by getting to know them a little, you’ll learn that pretty quickly. A lot of times you don’t even have to ask. They’ll kind of insinuate what they’re looking for. People come in thinking “Hey, I’m getting a good deal on this piece of property.” That may be true, but do they know what it will take in order to turn the property into what they desire it to be? For example, if the borrower is a busy ER doctor, I might say to him, “Hey doc, I’d go with a tract that’s a bit more established.” 

What has surprised you about working for Southern AgCredit?

Alex: One thing I searched for in all my years of real estate, from when I was working at the smaller agency in Madison to Mossy Oak Properties to 4 Corners, is a team-like atmosphere. Which isn’t to say that we did not have that in those places, but it’s different when people are working on commission-based projects like most real estate agents.  

Being a college baseball player and a sports guy, you’re taught to rely on somebody else to do their part. At Southern AgCredit, the biggest thing that surprised me was that not only do we do that, we go above and beyond. 

I can call on anybody in this whole association—I don’t care if it’s in Louisiana or all the way up in Greenville. I call not only my regional vice president, but somebody else who is in my position and ask about deals or how to structure them. I’ve only been here since 2015. Being able to rely on other folks at Southern AgCredit, soak in what they’ve learned, and have conversations is what got me to my position.

The success that Southern AgCredit has is not a surprise. The type of people who work here are not a surprise. What we do is not a surprise. But how we incorporate a team-like atmosphere and are able to rely on each other—that has been the biggest surprise and the biggest blessing. I honestly gave up on finding a job with a team-like atmosphere. I didn’t think it existed. But I finally found it at Southern AgCredit.

And heck, they stick up for you! I’ve got friends in the banking world who do not have it like we do at Southern AgCredit. 

Why would you get a loan with Southern AgCredit and not another lender?

Alex: The first reason to come to Southern AgCredit is what we can do with financing compared to a commercial lender. Our product and process are just completely different from a commercial bank. When you walk into a commercial bank, they’ll have you fill out a form and call you in three days. At Southern AgCredit, you’re going to get much more than that. We don’t say, “Here’s a rate, here’s a term, and we’ll see you later.” We sit down and talk about what they really want and how we can help.

Why do you come to Southern AgCredit? We specialize in land and agricultural financing. That’s what we do. That’s our niche. Why would you go anywhere else? We’re going to have the best loan products and you’re going to be with me through the whole process: beginning, middle and end. That’s my passion in this. It’s a relationship-based transaction.

Contact Alex Riser at Southern AgCredit’s Gulfport Branch

If you are interested in financing for hunting and recreational land, a timber business, or any other agricultural need on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Alex Riser’s branch is the one to call. 

The Gulfport, Mississippi branch serves George, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Pearl River, and Stone counties. You can visit their newly improved office from Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or give them a ring at (228) 832-5582

Guide to Buying Hunting Land

What to Look for When Choosing Land for Your Next Hunting Camp

One of the best parts about our corner of the world is its natural abundance. Northern Louisiana and Mississippi are blessed with lush forestland, fertile soil, a warm climate, and thriving wildlife. For those outdoor enthusiasts searching for a great plot of hunting land, the good news is, it’s also affordable. 

If you’re searching for a plot of hunting land to purchase, how do you tell which properties are better than others? Below, we go into some of the characteristics of good hunting properties that may help you on your search.

Turnkey Hunting Camps Vs. Undeveloped Land

Many great hunting properties are great because they’ve already been cultivated over many years for the specific purpose of hunting. So, while you’ll likely pay a higher price for a turnkey-type hunting camp, you won’t need to spend your summers building roads, clearing food plots or installing blinds.  

However, if part of your dream is to develop the camp yourself, your price tag could be lower, but you can make the camp exactly the way you want it.  

Land Features for Types of Game

Many hunters like to hunt all types of game, but some specialize in one animal or another. Below are some land features that cater to specific types.

Whitetail Deer

Hunters want big deer, and big deer are healthy. To cultivate a camp that lures in trophy whitetails, the property should have agricultural fields, water holes, small and large food plots, forest with a mixture of hardwoods and pine and sections of overgrowth that serve as bedding areas where deer can hide and feel safe. Whitetails have a keen sense of smell and hunters should be able to access deer stands quietly without being detected. Always be aware of wind direction and set up deer stands that can be hunted with different winds.

Land and deer behavior experts at Realtree.com designed an idealized 150-acre hunting plot for whitetail deer. Keep this type of setup in mind while you look at potential properties. 


Hunting ducks is all about creating a safe haven—conserving wetlands and keeping birds fed. You can create duck ponds yourself with low-lying areas and a water source, but an ideal plot of land has multiple wet areas already. Keeping one or two of these areas as a sanctuary for ducks will encourage ducks to stick around for nesting and then come back next year (and maybe invite their friends).


The American Farm Tree System published a guide for cultivating turkeys that outlines their basic needs. You’ll need the following in order to support a turkey flock:

  • Reliable water sources such as a creek, spring, or pond
  • Mix of open fields, pasture, and forestland
  • Forest that contains large-diameter hardwood trees for roosting
  • Food sources should include grass, grain, fruits, nuts, insects, and young vegetation
  • Lots of room: one bird per 30 acres, one flock per 640 to 800 acres

Choosing a Location

Building an overnight camp on a small hunting property runs the risk of disturbing wildlife. So, if you have a smaller plot of land, you will probably be driving there from home. For many hunts, you’ll want to be in place a half hour before sunrise. How early do you want to get up, and how far are you willing to drive? Make sure you enjoy your land by making it easy for you to access.

Property Taxes

Property taxes in Mississippi and Louisiana are some of the lowest in the United States. The ad valorem assessment ratio for most hunting land is 15% in Mississippi and 10% in Louisiana, but the final tax bill can range depending on what county or parish your property is located in. In addition to your ad valorem tax, you’ll pay county taxes as well.  

During your property search, contact the county or parish tax assessor. They will be able to tell you the exact tax rates for the current year as well as any exemptions or abatements for that property.

Real Estate Search

Start searching for properties for sale by using the Lands of America database:

Financing Your Hunting Camp

Southern AgCredit specializes in financing land used for hunting and recreational use. Our loan officers are experts in rural land, and many of them are hunters and outdoor enthusiasts themselves. When you contact one of our local offices in Mississippi and North Louisiana, the team can show you a wide variety of financing options, including:

  • Attractive fixed, interim-fixed or variable rates, and options to convert to another rate product at a later time
  • Flexible terms, including long-term options
  • Rates can be locked in before closing
  • Finance up to 80% of purchase price

Contact the Southern AgCredit branch closest to you, or fill out the loan interest form below, and a representative from Southern AgCredit will be in touch with you soon.

Loan Inquiry

Custom Feature Ideas for Your Country Home Build

Incorporate These Ideas While Planning Your Country Home

If you’re considering buying land in the country to build a home, you have the opportunity to add some wonderful custom features. Now’s the best time to think about these features, as adding them during the initial design and construction phases is far simpler than doing so after the fact. Find some inspiration below and take full advantage of your blank slate.

A Magnificent Mudroom

No matter what you do on your land, you don’t want any of it inside of your beautiful new home. Avoid tracking in dirt with a well-planned mudroom. With your mudroom, you’ll be able to put soiled clothes directly into the washing machine. Make it big and add extra custom cabinets to store all of your family’s coats, jackets and shoes.

A Dog Grooming Station

If you have a home in the country, your dog will probably spend a lot of time enjoying the outdoors. If you don’t want your brand new, beautiful custom house covered in whatever the dog dragged in, consider installing a special dog grooming station. Professional-grade, stainless steel dog baths can make life much easier. These types of dog baths are really easy to clean, last forever, and come with ramps, non-slip floor mats and flexible spray hoses. Special bonus: the tub can double as a utility sink. 

Elegant Access 

When you build a beautiful country home, the plan is to grow old in it. Sometimes, with aging comes mobility issues that may cause you to have trouble navigating stairs or accessing the shower. Consider these options for your home that you may thank yourself for later on: 

  • Single-level homes are ideal for people with mobility issues. Stairs can be extremely hard for people using assisted devices. If you need to build more than one level, consider building the master bedroom on the ground floor.
  • Build hallways and door frames wider than the standard build. Navigating narrow hallways and door frames with a wheelchair or walker can be cumbersome and wider doorways can make things easier for everyone. 
  • Install a shower that you walk in or roll into with a chair. Don’t forget sturdy grab bars or at least the room to install them later.

Wiring Smart and Smart Wiring

We have never heard anyone complain about a room having too many outlets. Why? Because we need to plug in many devices and power cords are short. 

For the outlets indoors, add convenient USB ports to charge phones, e-readers, printers, keyboards and more.

Another wiring option to consider: install ethernet internet cables throughout the home for devices like smart TVs and computers. If your home is large, wi-fi routers can be slow or even spotty. You’ll have a more consistent, solid connection with cables. Think of the connection as a landline versus a cell phone. 

Central Vacuum Cleaner

If you’re interested in a very convenient cleaning solution for your home, the best time to install a central vacuum system is while your home is under construction. This amenity is a permanent fixture of your home that will last indefinitely. The advantages to owning a central vacuum system are many and include low noise, increased suction and ease of use. 

If the added cost to build seems overwhelming, consider installing the wall or floor inlets and tubing while your home is being built and add the central motor and canister later on. 

Storage, Storage, Storage

One of the best parts of living in the country is your ability to spread out. Take advantage of all the space you’ll have by adding tons of storage:

  • Walk-in closets
  • Butler’s pantry 
  • Built-ins
  • Three-car garage
  • Linen closets
  • Detached shed

Start Building the Country Home of Your Dreams

Are you inspired to get started? Southern AgCredit helps provide homesite loans and construction loans for people in Louisiana and Mississippi who want to build a home in the country. If you’re inspired, get started by contacting the Southern AgCredit branch near you.

Tips for Buying a Used Tractor

Agribusiness had a tumultuous 2020. If you’re a farmer in need of a tractor, you may be hesitant to invest in a brand new one. Before you buy a brand new one, maybe you should consider finding a used one.

Not all farmers are equipment experts. Perhaps you need some advice about buying a used machine. Southern AgCredit helps farmers in Louisiana and Mississippi finance new and used tractors, and this article should help give you some pointers in order to get started.

Why Buy a “Used” Tractor Instead of New?

While farm equipment technology has certainly made incredible advancements, most tractors perform the same tasks as they always have. While a used tractor may not have as many new accessories, it will likely get the job done for much less than if you were to purchase a new one. As long as the tractor you purchase has been properly maintained, you can save yourself a lot of money.

Where to Find Used Tractors

Consider a variety of places while looking for the equipment you need. Your local dealer may have used tractors, but if you want a deal, you can broaden your search.

Auction Houses

Reputable auction houses are easy to hold accountable if there is an issue with the tractor. However, know that you’ll likely be competing with professional equipment bidders who buy and sell tractors for a living. Many of these auctions are also held online, so you can see if there are any pieces you’re interested in before you check them out in person.


Dealerships sell a lot of used tractors in addition to new, but they tend to have smaller used inventories. Approach a farm equipment dealership the same way as you would dealing with a car dealership. Dealers will often list their used equipment on the same websites as auctions and private sellers.

Retirement Auctions and Estate Sales

Retirement auctions can have very good equipment because it’s much less likely to be equipment that has been sold due to an issue.

Sale by Owner

You can find private sale tractors in Louisiana and Mississippi via online classifieds.

Links for Used Tractors

Precautions When Buying Tractors

When buying a used tractor, keep your options open, but take some precautions to protect yourself.

  1. Ask for paperwork! Get as much documentation on the tractor as you can, and keep the receipts. This will come in handy if you want to sell the tractor later.
  2. For name brands, call one of their dealerships, and give them the serial number. They’ll be able to look up the tractor’s paperwork. The paperwork will show who is listed as the owner and if there are any liens on it.
  3. It may seem simple, but try and have a thorough conversation with private sellers. Get to know them. Learn about the history of the tractor. Learn what they used it for and why they don’t want it anymore. Getting familiar with them may also help you when it comes to negotiating your price.
  4. Perform a thorough inspection of the tractor or bring someone you trust with you to view the machine and get their input.

Inspecting Used Tractors for Purchase

You can get a good price on a used tractor, but only if you buy a tractor that doesn’t have hidden issues that lead to costly repairs. The best way to prevent this is by inspecting the tractor in person.

Stoney Ridge Farmer goes through a lot of important detail on the inspection process.

Negotiate Your Price

If your inspection resulted in the discovery of some (fixable) problems with the tractor, you should be able to negotiate a lower price commensurate with the parts and labor required to fix them. Remember: A well-maintained tractor with more hours is worth more than a poorly maintained tractor with less.

How to Finance Your Tractor

Southern AgCredit offers competitive financing on used tractors and other types of used farming equipment. Learn more about our rates on used equipment by contacting us. Call the local Southern AgCredit branch in your area of Mississippi or Louisiana, or you can fill out the Loan Inquiry form below.

Loan Inquiry

Get to Know Devin Davis, Southern AgCredit’s Ruston Branch Manager

If you want to move to the country, buy some recreational land or operate a commercial farm, there are few better places to go than Northern Louisiana. After all, this area of the world is known as a sportsman’s paradise. And for people who are looking to finance their dreams, they won’t find a better friend than Southern AgCredit’s Ruston branch manager, Devin Davis. Get to know our affable and skillful financing expert.

Where are you from, originally?

Devin: I was raised in the small town of Norphlet, Arkansas, a town of only about 800 people. I graduated from Henderson State University in 2011 and moved to Ruston, Louisiana, for a 30-day internship. I completed the internship and started looking for a job in cities nearby like Shreveport and Monroe. I ended up taking a job at a local bank in Ruston and worked my way up. Instead of staying in Ruston for 30 days, I never left. In 2015 I was offered the job of relationship manager at Southern AgCredit. 

What is your family like?

Devin: I met my wife right after starting at Southern AgCredit. We have a son, Cameron, who is 8 years old, and a daughter, Andie Grace, who is 6 months old.

Oh, so she was born during the pandemic!

Devin: When the pandemic started you were only allowed to have one person with you in the hospital at a time. Our son stayed with my mother-in-law, and it was just my wife and me. The hospital was completely empty except for one other couple. My wife had high blood pressure, so we had to stay an extra day, but we were the only ones on the floor. Half the lights were out, and the floor was almost empty. It was like the first episode of the “Walking Dead” when he wakes up in the hospital and everyone is gone. It was a strange experience, but we made it through. We won’t forget it.

Is everyone good now?

Devin: Yes, all healthy, and my little girl is starting to crawl. By Christmas she’ll be getting into everything, including low-hanging tree ornaments. 

What do you like to do outside of work?

Devin: I like to hunt and fish, and I play golf. 

I actually took my 8 year-old hunting for the first time on Saturday afternoon. We got on the deer stand at 3 p.m., and at 3:39 he declared there were no deer in the woods. I’m trying to teach him to enjoy deer hunting, but he said it was pretty boring. It would have helped if we saw a deer but we didn’t. We did see three turkeys while we were hunting, so that was fun for him to see.  

We recently listened to a podcast about Bigfoot, so my son was convinced we might see him while we were hunting. We didn’t [laughs] but it was funny to hear him bring that up.

What have you been watching during the pandemic?

Devin: I have never watched “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette” in my entire life, but my wife said she wanted us to watch “The Bachelorette” together. Our son could go to grandma’s house, and it would give us two hours of alone time. 

I did not know how crazy that show is. I gave it three or four episodes, but I drew a line in the sand after “The Bachelorette” got married only after a few episodes. After I devoted that much time into that, I couldn’t stay with it.

We also watch “The Pioneer Woman”. Our kitchen is basically sponsored by the Pioneer Woman — pots and pans and ramekins, etc. I encourage my wife to make Pioneer Woman recipes like delicious waffle fries. My wife is an excellent cook, just like the Pioneer Woman.  

“A lot of times, when people are looking to buy property, they’re not exactly sure where to begin. With a phone call to us, we can tell them what they need, how much it costs – and how we can make it work for them.”

What is Southern AgCredit’s Ruston office like?

Devin: At the Ruston office, there are only two of us – myself and a loan administrator. As the branch manager, I take the loan application, get the borrower’s financial statements organized and send over to one of our credit analysts. After it’s approved, I order the appraisals and title work from attorneys.

I used to go to all loan closings, but now we’re using e-signatures, and our customers are able to sign documents electronically. Having this option is excellent during the pandemic.

One of the things I’m most proud of is that when I first started at Southern AgCredit, we were just leasing an office in Ruston. In the past year, we’ve purchased and renovated a new office in downtown Ruston. It was a long process, but we’re extremely proud and blessed to have this new office space.

I wear many hats around here. I take loan applications and I also take out the trash and clean the windows [laughs]. I am not in charge of decorating the office. That goes to the loan administrator, Lexi. I’m not very good at that, but I will be responsible for putting the tree topper on the Christmas tree because she’s not tall enough to reach.

What has surprised you about working for Southern AgCredit?

Devin: The relationships I’ve built with our borrowers. I worked at a commercial bank for five years before I started working here, and I knew my customers, but just on a professional level. Now, my customers have my cell phone number and can call me at 7 p.m. at night or 11 a.m. on Saturday morning. We’ve become friends. It was something I was not prepared for, but it’s something that makes my job enjoyable and makes me like coming to work every day. I like helping my friends – people I know and care about – achieve their dream of enjoying life in the country.

A lot of times, when people are looking to buy property, they’re not exactly sure where to begin. With a phone call to us, we can tell them what they need, how much it costs, and how we can make it work for them. We explain the process, and we make it simple. Then borrowers have the confidence that getting a loan with Southern AgCredit won’t be a headache. Being able to help people navigate through that process is something we take pride in.

Why should someone get a loan with Southern AgCredit and not another lender?

Devin: My customers know me personally and have my cell phone number. We embody, as an association, a culture of building and maintaining those relationships through the life of the loan and afterwards. 

Would you like to share any memorable success stories about borrowers?

Devin: We had a borrower whose husband passed away, and he had been in charge of their farm. After he passed, his wife said, “Devin, I don’t know anything about what I need to do in regards to the farm operation. What is the next step?” I was able to help her with next steps like speaking with her attorney and her CPA and try and help get things planned out for her. Today she’s running the farm. It’s wonderful to hear from her and know that she was able to adapt and I was able to help give her that confidence to keep going.

How have your customers been faring during the pandemic?

Devin: A sector of my portfolio in the Ruston office was hit hard by COVID-19. These businesses were having trouble keeping staff in place. Your bank notes still come due, and the businesses still had the same expenses. We are working with a lot of these kinds of customers to help them through this difficult time. 

That’s one thing about Southern AgCredit – we stay in contact and find out what we need to do to help our borrowers when they need us. That’s something we take pride in. My customers can call me, and we’ll sit down and figure it out. We work with our borrowers.

Contact Devin Davis in Ruston

Do you need financing for recreational land, a country home or your agricultural business? Southern AgCredit offers attractive rates as well as experts like Devin to help you through the process. 

The new and improved Ruston, Louisiana, office serves the parishes of Bienville, Claiborne, Jackson, Lincoln, Ouachita, Union and Webster.

Visit Devin from Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., or give him a phone call at (318) 255-6539.

The Benefits of Buying a Country Home

If you’re considering purchasing a home, why not consider buying or building in a rural area? A country home offers a number of great benefits to you and your family.

Improve Your Life

Buy or Build Exactly What You Want

Homes in rural areas are generally not subject to strict rules about the type of home you can build or how it looks. You may have much more freedom without the burden of a Home Owners Association monitoring your property.

Proven Health Benefits

The past year has shown us that having a rural escape can be valuable to your mental health. Scientific studies prove the health benefits of vacations, and even more prove that time spent in nature is good for us. According to the Yale School of Environment, time spent in nature can “lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels, reduce nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve mood.”

Improve Your Finances

Tax Advantages of Country Vacation Homes

Because a country home is located in a rural area, you may not have access to the same kinds of tax-funded city services that you would receive when your home is located in an incorporated area. Therefore, your property tax burden may be significantly lower.

Secondly, even if your country home is your second home, you may be able to deduct the interest on the mortgage up to a limit.

Provide a Legacy

Your country home will continue to touch people after you’re gone. The home may be kept and enjoyed within your family for generations to come. Or, the property may provide much-needed funds to the people who inherit it. Either way, you will be leaving a significant legacy to your family.

Take the First Step to Owning a Country Home With Southern AgCredit

Southern AgCredit offers loans to people who are building, buying, or refinancing homes in the country. Click the button below to learn about our country home loan rates and terms. Then, complete a loan inquiry form to have a Southern AgCredit loan officer contact you.

Country Home Loans