Forming Symbiotic Relationships to Finance America's Heartland

There are more cows than people in Kansas, so you better know how to finance both, High Plains Farm Credit Association’s president and CEO, Kevin Swayne likes to joke. Nestled in the heartland of America, surrounded by golden fields of wheat, feed yards and cow-calf operations, High Plains is immersed in its members’ way-of-life—it’s their livelihood, too.

High Plains is one of the leading agricultural lenders in the state, providing financial services to 4,100 farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses in its service territory. The association’s mission is to support its rural agricultural communities with reliable and consistent credit and financial services, today and into the future.

If your customer is successful, you are going to be successful.

“When you only have one mission, you just want to do it right,” Swayne said. “Through good times and hardships, everyone needs a dependable lender—but we are also a relationship lender, which is a big part of our longevity and shared success with our customers.”

Recent drought conditions have led to a lower cattle population and market volatility, specifically higher cattle prices, which increases the need for credit. High Plains customers and feed yards were feeling the crunch and turned to the association for more capital.

“Our customers don’t need to worry about their lending needs—they need to focus on the day-to-day operation of their business,” Swayne said. ”As their need for capital grows, that’s where we turn to CoBank. As a member of the Farm Credit System, they understand the current demands in agriculture and don’t question it—they just get it done.”

High Plains is one of 16 Farm Credit associations affiliated with CoBank. It relies on the bank for wholesale funding as well as a variety of other financial products.

Amongst the growing need for credit and financial services, High Plains has experienced consistent growth over the last six years, expanding its portfolio from $1 billion to $1.8 billion. It has six different branches throughout Kansas and has increased its number of employees from 51 to 82 since 2017.

High Plains is excited for the future as it continues to expand and appreciates its partnership with CoBank. Through collaborative ventures like the Farm Credit Capital Group, which helps other associations within the CoBank district buy and sell loan participations, as well as joint contributions to local charities and organizations, CoBank and High Plains have formed a complementary relationship.

“If your customer is successful, you are going to be successful,” Swayne said. “We take a vested interest in our customers and the rural communities we serve. I know CoBank has that same mission.”

This story was originally published in the CoBank 2023 Annual Report.