Cultivating Catalytic Impacts

The United Bank and Coastal Growers LLC Story

How securing financing through Farmer Mac helped spur a rural community's economic development

Quick Look

Farmer Mac Approved Lender
United Bank

What United Bank Needed

  • The ability to offer a long-term fixed rate that afforded their borrower more comfort
  • The ability to offer assistance above their typical lending limits while boosting the region economically
  • To reduce their risk exposure
Borrower
Coastal Growers LLC

What Coastal Growers LLC Needed

  • To improve the sustainability of their owner farmers by creating the necessary infrastructure to capture more of the revenue from their crops
  • A lending solution for a large and complex transaction
  • A knowledgeable local lender to help keep their profits in the community
  • A long-term fixed interest rate to remove rate volatility from their cash flow
Farmer Mac's Solutions

USDA Guaranteed Loan Purchase

“By leveraging Farmer Mac’s USDA Guaranteed Loan Purchase Program, we were able to punch above our weight class as a small bank, create a boon for our region’s economy, and significantly reduce the risk exposure at our bank.”

Alex Jones, President – UB Community Development LLC

The Beginning: Coastal Growers LLC

“Coastal Growers will be the best thing that has happened to the peanut producers in this area,” said local farmer Darrin Driskell. “Whether producers are members or not, the local farmer stock peanut prices are going to rise and create stability for all peanut farmers in our region.”

Resting comfortably on the Florida line in Southwest Alabama, the city of Atmore finds its roots steeped in agriculture and timber—but don’t mistake this rural community for a sleepy town. The entrepreneurial spirit is high among local businesses and community leaders, as evidenced by the city’s selection as the new site for Coastal Growers LLC’s 450,000 square-foot peanut shelling and storing facility. Coastal Growers, owned by a cooperative of peanut farmers in Alabama and parts of Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida, has endeavored to improve the sustainability of its owner farmers by creating the necessary infrastructure to capture more of the revenue from their crops rather than sharing those profits with large corporations that have shelling facilities in distant locations.

“Coastal Growers will be the best thing that has happened to the peanut producers in this area,” said local farmer Darrin Driskell. “Whether producers are members or not, the local farmer stock peanut prices are going to rise and create stability for all peanut farmers in our region.”

About Coastal Growers LLC


What they were after

  • To improve the sustainability of its owner farmers by creating the necessary infrastructure to capture more of the revenue from their crops
  • A lending solution for a large and complex transaction
  • A knowledgeable local lender to help keep their profits in the community
  • A long-term fixed interest rate to remove rate volatility from their cash flow

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How United Bank Fits In

“This was a complex process and not the typical economic development project in any way, but in the end, it’s going to mean a lot for Atmore, the state of Alabama, and for our region,” said Jones. “We remain committed to financing projects that result in catalytic impacts on the rural communities in which we operate.”

Alex Jones, President of UB Community Development LLC (a community development affiliate of Atmore-based United Bank), was instrumental in securing the financing for the $87 million project. Jones’ optimism for the new facility extends beyond the benefits to local farmers, including that over 100 well-paying factory jobs expected to be created in Atmore’s economy.

“This was a complex process and not the typical economic development project in any way, but in the end, it’s going to mean a lot for Atmore, the state of Alabama, and for our region,” said Jones. “We remain committed to financing projects that result in catalytic impacts on the rural communities in which we operate.”

United Bank has a decades-long partnership with Farmer Mac—the country’s secondary market for U.S. agricultural credit—that facilitates the bank’s access to long-term financing at competitive rates and other risk-mitigating products that benefit both the bank and its farm customers. “Farmer Mac not only brought instant credibility to this deal, but they provided a long-term fixed rate that afforded our borrowers more comfort to make the investment,” said Jones. “By leveraging Farmer Mac’s USDA Guaranteed Loan Purchase Program, we were able to punch above our weight class as a small bank, create a boon for our region’s economy, and significantly reduce the risk exposure at our bank.”

About United Bank


What they were after

  • The ability to offer a long-term fixed rate that afforded their borrower more comfort
  • Ability to offer assistance above their typical lending limits while boosting the region economically
  • To reduce their risk exposure

How Farmer Mac Bridges the Gap

“We have a shared appreciation with United Bank for rural community development, and our purchase of 60%, or $24 million, of the bank’s loan to Coastal Growers illustrates Farmer Mac’s commitment to such initiatives,” said Patrick Kerrigan, Farmer Mac’s Vice President – Business Development. “Regardless of the products or services our partners leverage from us, Farmer Mac continues to be here to help lenders like United Bank, farmers like Coastal Growers, and rural communities like Atmore prosper and thrive with access to low-cost financing.”

As a champion for and an integral part of our nation’s rural economies since its founding in 1988 by Congress charter, Farmer Mac was proud to play a pivotal role in cementing the project’s viability.

“We have a shared appreciation with United Bank for rural community development, and our purchase of 60%, or $24 million, of the bank’s loan to Coastal Growers illustrates Farmer Mac’s commitment to such initiatives,” said Patrick Kerrigan, Farmer Mac’s Vice President – Business Development. “Regardless of the products or services our partners leverage from us, Farmer Mac continues to be here to help lenders like United Bank, farmers like Coastal Growers, and rural communities like Atmore prosper and thrive with access to low-cost financing.”

With a positive economic impact that will span farming, manufacturing, shipping and other ancillary industries across the Southeast, there was clearly more at stake here than mere peanuts. And that’s something we can all celebrate.

Farmer Mac’s Solution

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