If you were to draw a circle representing agriculture in Georgia, the very center of the drawing would show farmers, ranchers and other producers.
They, after all, are directly responsible for producing the vast agricultural commodities that come from Georgia. They’re at the core of the industry.
But the periphery of the circle is no less important. It includes entities such as seed and fertilizer facilities, transportation firms and agricultural technology companies. Farm equipment manufacturers, retail outlets, and banks and lending companies would also fall along that circle’s outer edge.
Read on for examples of those businesses that support the nucleus of agriculture.
Financing the Farmers
AgSouth Farm Credit has been serving farmers since 1916. It was created as a result of the Farm Credit System established by President Woodrow Wilson to help farmers and others in rural America meet their financial needs. Headquartered in Statesboro and serving 54 counties in Georgia and another 34 in South Carolina, it is one of the largest lending cooperatives in the Southeast.
“We do land loans, operating agriculture loans, equipment loans, timber loans, as well as loans for people in poultry and dairy,” says Christy Smith, AgSouth’s Georgia regional marketing director. “We also finance agribusinesses, timber harvesters, foresters, sawmills and meat processors, and services that are provided to farmers. We do leasing and crop insurance as well.”
AgSouth not only helps full-time farmers with their credit and financial needs, they can also assist others with loans to purchase lands.
“If someone just wants to buy some land and move out of a metropolitan area, we can finance that too,” Smith says.
The company is particularly mindful of the needs of young or beginning farmers. It started a program in 2012 known as AgAware, which helps the next generation of young, beginning, small and minority farmers.
“We’re doing free workshops where we teach them about balance sheets, budgeting, financing and how to apply for a loan,” Smith says. “It’s meant to help them be better prepared financially for farming.
“They know the production side of farming because their parents or grandparents taught them all of that. But what they may not know and weren’t taught is the bookkeeping and financial side of it. We’re trying to put something out there to help educate them.”
Fifty years ago, Raybon Anderson started a fertilizer business to serve local farmers in the Statesboro area. Today, Bulloch Fertilizer Company is still helping farmers in the region and beyond.
In 1965, two years after its founding, Bulloch Fertilizer built the first liquid suspension fertilizer plant of its kind in southeast Georgia and coined the SUR-GRO brand name. By the early 1990s, the business had expanded beyond farms and pastures to serving the needs of area golf courses, sod farms and recreational facilities.
“Over half of our business is still farmers,” says Mike Anderson, Raybon Anderson’s son, and president of Bulloch Fertilizer. “We mainly supply them with their fertilizer needs, and everything that goes with that such as spreading equipment and pesticide applications.
“But we also serve the turf market and produce bag fertilizers we sell through the lawn and garden stores.”
Anderson and his wife, Vicki, also operate Anderson’s General Store, which opened in Statesboro in 2005 and sells farm supplies, apparel, sporting goods, and lawn and garden equipment.