Paxton Poitevint, who has worked at Southwest Georgia Farm Credit for the past 14 years in a variety of capacities, took over the reigns as Chief Executive Officer last week. Poitevint says his organization is poised to continue to do its part to assist local farmers and agribusinesses meet their goals and objectives. “We serve 21 rural communities who count on us to deliver everything from land loans to home mortgages. Farmers rely on us to operate. We have an obligation to play an important role in rural southwest Georgia,” Poitevint said.
Locally raised and Athens-groomed
There’s no doubt there’s southwest Georgia blood running through his veins; just walk into a local diner or shop and he’ll see someone he knows. And they probably know his grandmother, too, who is known for her delicious and oh-so-sweet caramel cakes. “I was raised here. I grew up here. I’m raising my family here,” Poitevint, who earned a degree in finance from the University of Georgia, said. “Our small towns matter to me. People here matter to me.
“This rural community molded me into who I am. I am very appreciative to have the opportunity to work and raise a family in my hometown of Bainbridge, GA. But more importantly, I am grateful to work for an organization, like Southwest Georgia Farm Credit, that is committed to making our small towns great places to live. Whether it’s financing the farmers that feed and clothe the world, contributing to organizations that benefit the less fortunate, or simply creating and maintaining a strong Farm Credit workforce so they, too, can raise their family in a rural community. Caring for your neighbor never gets old here.”
Everyone should know about Farm Credit
“Everyone spends time dreaming about where they want to live or enjoy their down time,” Poitevint said. “Whether it’s owning a successful farming operation, a home with some land, or a few acres to hunt and spend time with family and friends, we have the ability to turn those dreams into reality. And by that, I mean that our goal is to make the lending process so easy, and to take such an interest in those we do business with, that it just makes sense to do business with us.
“I’m sure there are many people in our area who think Farm Credit only serves farmers,” Poitevint continued. “No doubt, farmers and farm businesses are the backbone of our business. But everyone in every small town in southwest Georgia should know about Farm Credit and what we do, so they, too, can realize the benefits of doing business with a trusted partner like Southwest Georgia Farm Credit.”
The mission, then, is all about people
“There is no better feeling than when you’re grabbing a cup of coffee and someone walks up to you and says thanks for sponsoring an event, or having a member of our team play an important role in a local organization. We live here. We choose to raise our families here. Our community’s success is our success.”
Technology is driving Innovation
“We have learned that our customers expect us to keep pace with technology. Been out to a farm lately? Just ask a farmer how important technology is to their operation. Everyone’s lives are so busy now—it’s all about convenience and time management. The banking industry is no different. We are committed to being an agile organization and quick to adapt to new technology—because our customers expect it.”
And when it comes to agriculture…
“Agriculture is absolutely the foundation of our local communities,” Poitevint said. “Not only is it creating jobs in a direct capacity through the many row crop production operations, cotton gins, peanut shelling plants, chemical distributors, and the list goes on—but also think of the indirect effect agriculture has on the local tire store, the grocery store, and many other family owned businesses.
And while agriculture supports the local economy, the ever changing global economy drives the local agriculture industry. So, it’s critical that our farmers and agribusinesses have access to a consistent and competitive source of capital to meet their needs. They need a partner that is committed to their operations during the ups and downs, and understands the dynamics of the industry. Southwest Georgia Farm Credit will never choose to be “in” or “out” based on the times, but rather in lock step with our customers as they navigate through the peaks and valleys of the ag industry.”
What will impact agriculture the most in the next few years?
“Many variables are impacting agriculture, especially as it pertains to technology and society. Who would have thought 15 years ago we would have self-driving tractors, center pivot irrigation systems that are operated through an internet connection, and round bale cotton pickers? These are just a couple of examples of the precision technology that is evolving and having a positive impact on efficiencies and allowing farmers to remain competitive on a global scale,” Poitevint said. “In addition to the changes in technology, consumers of food and fiber continue to be more interested in where and how their food is being grown—all of which will continue to add layers of complexity and cost. As an ag lender we have to be aware of these changes and understand how new technology and customer preferences will impact how we deliver credit.”
What does it mean to you and your organization to be a community partner?
“The small towns in our area are faced with many economic challenges, especially related to healthcare, education and other essential services. So, to me, being a community partner means being willing to contribute both time and monetary resources to various organizations and charitable causes that are focused on enriching our lives. We really do believe that we are stronger together, and our employees are committed to the betterment of our local communities.
Finally, you have a great team around you. How will you continue to make Southwest Georgia Farm Credit a great place to work?
My predecessor, Richard Monson, excelled at identifying and retaining exceptional talent. He believed people are our most valuable asset, and I couldn’t agree more. I think people get excited when they work in an environment that promotes engagement and innovation. So, I intend to follow Richard’s lead and continue to build a world class team that focuses on operational excellence and fulfilling our commitment to support our farmers and the rural communities in which we operate.
Headquartered in Bainbridge, Georgia, Southwest Georgia Farm Credit (www.SWGAFarmCredit.com) supports farmers and farm businesses, as well as rural property owners, providing safe, sound, dependable financing. The association is part of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of agricultural and rural lending institutions cooperatively owned by their borrowers. Farm Credit helps maintain and improve the quality of life in rural America and on the farm, through its constant commitment to competitive lending and expert financial services.