Crops, Cattle and Collaboration
Farm Credit Midsouth Member Jason McGee Reflects on a Long and Productive Partnership with the Association
Jason McGee is the first to admit that he sees things a little differently than many of his counterparts in Arkansas agriculture. And he appreciates that his lending team at Farm Credit Midsouth is accepting — even encouraging — of that. Taking some risks has worked out well for McGee so far, as he celebrates more than 15 years as a Farm Credit member and more than 20 in the ag business.
“I live what many may say is a complex life, and they (Farm Credit Midsouth) have done a good job of understanding my business and my goals,” McGee notes as he begins to tell his Farm Credit story. “I think every operation has different goals. And you need a lender who understands where you want to go and why you want to go there.”
Over the years, McGee has worked with a lot of Arkansas growers, which has helped give him perspective as he has grown his own operation. Many farmers know what they owe, but not necessarily what they’re worth. To grow, to be successful, you must also understand the asset side of your business, McGee notes.
Even though he was raised in an ag heavy area, with his mom a teacher and his dad a truck driver, McGee did not grow up with a background in agriculture. He entered college with a dream of possibly becoming a veterinarian. But he was sidetracked by an internship he accepted around his junior year which introduced him to agriculture, specifically row crops. He worked that same position every summer and got to know the University of Arkansas’s Ford Baldwin, a well-known name in Arkansas ag circles, who encouraged him to learn about, and essentially become an expert in, rice. Right after college he went to work for the University and the rest is, as they say, history.
In 2001, while still working for the University of Arkansas, he waded into crop consulting as well. It was then that Mc- Gee made the leap to farming for himself, renting 150 acres to start. He still remembers his first crop fondly—90 acres of rice and 60 acres of soybeans. He’s nostalgic that way, still owning his very first truck, in fact. As his row crop operation grew, he remained engaged as a crop consultant and employed in the seed business, but also fairly quickly began increasing the number of acres he farmed. Today his operation encompasses more than 7000 acres on which he grows rice, soybeans, wheat and corn.
At the same time, he began simultaneously building a cattle business. He had grown up surrounded by cattle some as a child in Cherry Valley. When he was 17, his grandparents left him two cows and he had a vision. Today, he holds 2000 acres of pasture land, runs a feeder calf operation set up to accommodate up to 2000 head in Independence County, and a cow calf operation with about 300 mamas in Cross County.
McGee is quick to give credit to Farm Credit for taking risks right alongside him on this journey. He realizes his business has grown pretty quickly and credits them with listening to his vision and understanding his goals.
“Farm Credit realizes that the land ownership—headquarters, grain bins, all of it—is a big part of what I’m about,” McGee says. “I take my hat off to them and I view them as a true partner in what we’re doing.”
McGee certainly doesn’t go it alone. He’s had unconditional support from his wife Allison, a registered nurse by trade. The family, which includes the couple’s children, Harrison, Conner and Maci, resides in Cross County. Downtime, which maybe doesn’t come often enough, takes them to their place in Mountain Home for a little rest, relaxation and trout fishing. But something tells us McGee would be perfectly happy to spend his days talking seed, crops and cattle—topics he knows quite a bit about having spent his adult life growing the successful McGee Farms.