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Mississippi Land Bank: Helping farmers meet their business goals

Alaina Dismukes adismukes-abbott-myers1.JPG
Abbott Myers is not only the chairman of the board for Mississippi Land Bank, but he is also a farmer, producing rice, corn, and soybeans.
Mississippi Land Bank, which runs off a co-op system, provides financing solutions for farmers looking to buy anything from equipment to land.

For those looking for financing and refinancing solutions, Mississippi Land Bank specializes in helping those in the agriculture industry with their banking needs.

Mississippi Land Bank's chairman of the board, Abbott Myers, gave an update on the last three quarters of 2020 and explained how the bank can help farmers during this time.

"Mississippi Land Bank has been good to me, "Myers said. "They loaned me money in 1969, and I've been borrowing money from them ever since. My farm has grown, and they've helped it to grow. They are, in large part, the reason for my success."

About Mississippi Land Bank

Mississippi Land Bank is a unique lender that provides financing for Mid-South growers by selling bonds on the market to get funding. The bank does short-term loans, such as equipment, and long-term loans, such as buying land or a house.

"We make loans with smaller farms and larger farms," Myers said. "Mississippi Land Bank also runs off a co-op system. When you take out a loan, you become a stockholder, and you get to vote on who is on the board and who represents you."

The bank serves 32 counties in north Mississippi and there are six different loan offices, which are in Clarksdale, Cleveland, Senatobia, Tupelo, Corinth, and Starkville. Each office has a director and the office covers three to five counties, depending on the area and amount of loans needed.

"We are just like Gerber Baby Food," he said. "Their motto used to be babies are our business, our only business. Agriculture is our business, our only business."

Three quarters down

The year is not quite finished yet, but the bank has seen growth in the past three quarters.

"We've had a tremendous year and have seen good growth in the business," Myers said. "I've heard from several farmers who have had a great harvest and good yields, and prices are easing up some, which helps everybody out. Cotton prices are looking a little better, but it needs to ease up some more. Exports are doing better as well."

Last year, Mississippi Land Bank gave dividends back and will again this year. However, how much will depend on the last quarter of the year.

"We're about 7% growth right now, which is great in the banking industry," he said. "The number might be higher after the fourth quarter because we'll have pay downs, people paying off loans, as well as people making more loans.

"We love making short- and long-term loans, especially with our young farmers. I like helping our farmers who are just starting their operations. The young farmers I've seen recently are working hard and making good crops. A lot of farmers are having record crops this year, which is great news for us farmers and the agriculture industry."

Purchasing land

Land prices might be going up, but at Mississippi Land Bank, interest rates stay the same for two years.

"I would have never thought our interest rates would have stayed this low this long, but land prices keep going up. You must be careful making long-term purchases," Myers said.

"It is hard to buy land right now with prices as high as they are. It boils down to this: it doesn’t matter if you buy or rent, but you pay for the land you occupy. If possible, it's a great long-term investment to try to buy land when you are able."

COVID-19: Effects on business, markets

Like all businesses, Mississippi Land Bank's main concern when COVID-19 hit the U.S. was the health and safety of its members and employees.

"We've cut out a lot of our in-person meetings and are instead meeting on Zoom," Myers said. "I prefer in-person meetings, but, especially during a critical time of the year like the last quarter, we can't afford for our employees to get sick.

"We have people paying off loans and making loans as well as getting our budgets together for next year. It's a critical time for us, so we are doing what we can for the health and safety of everyone while continuing our work."

Due to COVID-19, the spring experienced a stock market downturn, but in recent months, the market has bounced back with around 30% growth.

"With COVID-19, it has affected us more than anything this year since it has messed up the supply chain and caused disruptions everywhere," Myers said. "Fortunately, our economy was doing well until the shutdowns, which has helped us to bounce back. The markets experienced around 30% to 33% growth in the third quarter even with some states still experiencing shutdowns. You want steady, sustained growth when it comes to the economy.

"Mississippi Land Bank has a lot of tools and options for farmers looking for financing and refinancing solutions. The people here at Land Bank specialize in agriculture, and we are proud of the work we do alongside the agriculture industry."

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