Read the January edition of Alabama Forest where we were chosen for the Member Spotlight article.
Written by Jacquie Powell, Alabama Forestry Association
Some Don't Get it...But They Do!
To get help with these opportunities and push to make these dreams a reality, many involved in forestry turn to the experts who work at Alabama Ag Credit. Their employees “get it.” The financial cooperative exists purely to help and assist those in the forestry and agricultural areas as well as those in rural communities across forty central and southern Alabama counties. They have served this honorable mission with a deeply rooted passion since 1916 when they were first created by President Woodrow Wilson.
That passion matters to people in Alabama and, specifically, those in forestry. As Doug Thiessen, President & CEO of Alabama Ag Credit, reminded us, “Nearly seventy percent of the state of Alabama is covered in trees. People from all walks of life own timberland in Alabama, and as a result, financing timberland and related forestry operations is the largest segment of our $1.3 billion loan portfolio. So, we care about what is happening within the forestry industry, and we partner in many ways with those that are connected to it.”
A LENDER THAT UNDERSTANDS YOUR BUSINESS
Succeeding in forestry requires working with a lender who knows the unique financial needs of the industry. Alabama Ag Credit has the expertise, resources, and connections to industry consultants who can help you see your land or operation’s economic potential.
They offer flexible and tailored forestry financing solutions for your personal or business requirements and help you secure the funding you need to grow.
Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about forestry financing is the purchase of timberland itself. Whether you’re financing the new purchase of timberland, refinancing existing loans, or establishing a new solution. There are long-term loans that are needed to match the age or stage of your growing timber and cutting plans. There are short-term loans that can help with timber management or making improvements to the land. With these, there are loan repayment options that offer flexibility to the borrower that can be aligned with your income schedule.
Not all lenders will understand your needs when it comes to timber. Still, Alabama Ag Credit team members know the industry, major trends, and aspects such as timber valuation and tax treatment of timberland investments. Unlike many traditional lenders, they won’t pull back from financing the timber industry during difficult economic times and will remain committed to this vital industry in Alabama.
One of the great benefits of Alabama Ag Credit is that they are here for everyone, including small businesses and operators, to grow and reach their big dreams.
Alabama Ag Credit’s VP of Marketing Amber Pratt said, “We do loans for the smallest producer to the biggest operation. We have a large YBS ‘Young, Beginning, Small’ Program designed to assist the Association in developing allows us to reach the YBS demographic in the best way possible and further meet the mission of the Farm Credit System.”
Part of their mission is to accelerate the next generation into the industry, so they realize the importance of helping those individuals purchase small tracts of land, helping to get their fleet started, or giving them assistance to purchase large, heavy equipment. In addition, large and small agribusiness is a significant part of the Alabama Ag Credit portfolio, from the large-scale, full-capacity mill to the smallest operation.
Whether you are already involved in timber production, want to start a plantation, or your company harvests, produces, or markets timber and forest products, Alabama Ag Credit can help. They finance all aspects of the forestry industry – from seedling nurseries to tree farms and lumber mills.
Amber Pratt, VP of Marketing & PR, explained, “We are a true cooperative, meaning that everyone who does business with us is also a member. They own stock in our association and are also the individuals responsible for electing the Board Members. Stockholder-elected board members are also members and stockholders themselves.”
As we discussed the cooperative structure and the importance Alabama Ag Credit puts on the cooperative pillar of “concern for community,” CEO Doug Thiessen added, “Our Association recognizes the economic, cultural, and social needs of our members and surrounding communities. Our board, employees, and members donate their time and resources to assist in the rural areas where they live and work. They may help clean up tornado damage or even donate some of their earnings to causes near and dear to their hearts. Understanding that our mission includes enhancing the lives of rural Alabamians, we work every day to connect with our communities and be stewards of the land.”
Continuing to recognize this cooperative model, the board of directors decides how much of the cooperative’s earnings to maintain as capital while returning the rest to their dedicated members. In 2022, that figure was $13.1 Million, which was over half of their profits. As the saying goes, Alabama Ag Credit certainly ‘puts the money where its mouth is’! That amount effectively lowers your borrowing costs, so you not only receive a competitive interest rate, but you could also receive some of the interest back that you’ve paid on your loan. Although the patronage payout is not guaranteed, the program does offer you the opportunity to get money back from doing business with them.
Alabama Ag Credit prides itself on building relationships and having a genuine and unique way of connecting with not only its members but the forestry industry as a whole. Their support is crystal clear as you can find representation from their executives and employees at various forestry related events such as AFA’s Annual Meeting, ANRC’s Landowner Conference, ForestPAC’s Pinecone Open Golf Tournament, AFA’s Public Policy Series – The State of Alabama’s Governance, Alabama Loggers Council Annual Meeting, various Regional District Meetings and a plethora of sponsorships and exhibit booths throughout the state of Alabama.
As an Alabama Ag Credit member, you will see the value of their time spent with you, appreciate their financial support, and be enamored with their expertise. I believe you will leave the interaction feeling “Some don’t get it … but they do!”