Jim Caldwell Retires as CEO
Jim Caldwell, President and CEO of Central Kentucky Ag Credit, will retire effective June 30, 2022. He has served as Ag Credit’s President and Chief Executive Officer for 14 years.
Jim’s retirement comes at a time when Central Kentucky Ag Credit is at the highest point of service and financial stability in the Association’s 88-year history.
When Caldwell started his presidency in 2009 Ag Credit’s loan portfolio showed $226 million in loans outstanding and $35 million in capital. At the end of March, the Association’s portfolio showed $668 million in loans outstanding and $122 million in capital. Over 3,800 Ag Credit member-borrowers are now served in the Association’s 17-county region.
During discussions with the Ag Credit Board of Directors, and during interviews for this retirement announcement, Caldwell said Ag Credit’s growth has been a team effort on behalf of the Association’s Board of Directors, a dedicated and talented staff and the high credit quality of Ag Credit member-borrowers. However, Caldwell’s experience has been instrumental in the Association’s growth and service.
Caldwell’s length of service to Central Kentucky Ag Credit totals 40 years, during which he has held several key positions. He started his career with the Richmond Office as a Field Representative for the Production Credit Association after earning his Degree in Agriculture with a Business Minor from Eastern Kentucky University; then he held several administrative roles with Central Kentucky Ag Credit, while also earning his MBA from Eastern Kentucky University. Prior to becoming President of Ag Credit, Jim was the Association’s Vice President and Chief Credit Officer for 18 years.
Jim had the distinction of knowing 3 presidents who preceded his service, including Frank Congleton, Jr. (1957-1976); Cecil Ellis, Jr. (1977-1985), who hired Jim for the Richmond Office; and Larry K. Stone (1986-2008). Jim Caldwell has been the 5th president of Ag Credit since it was chartered in 1934.
Change and Challenge Punctuated Caldwell’s Career
When Jim’s career started in 1982, the nationwide Farm Credit System was in the early stages of financial challenge, which ultimately resulted in massive changes in the lending system. As the 1980’s progressed, farmers experienced growing demand for food and fiber production, thus more money to sustain farm enterprises; the Farm Credit System subsequently experienced escalating loan demand; at the same time, the nationwide Farm Credit System morphed into a new lending environment under the watchful eye of the United States Congress.
Essentially, Caldwell’s early career took place amid the most challenging and stressful time in the history of the nationwide Farm Credit System. While many Farm Credit institutions merged or disappeared, the Central Kentucky Association remained strong and viable due to wise board and management leadership, as well as critical alliances with other compatible financial institutions.
Throughout the System’s changes and challenges, Caldwell recalls he was pleased that Central Kentucky Ag Credit emerged as an independent financial cooperative that continued to offer reliable credit services, including long-term loans which were added in 1990.
Jim said, “While our name was changed from ‘Central Kentucky Production Credit Association’ to ‘Central Kentucky Ag Credit’, we were never acquired by another lender, nor did Ag Credit merge with other lenders … we remained independent and the Association’s focus was targeted to improving credit services to farmers and eligible rural sources who depended on Ag Credit.”
Caldwell says Central Kentucky Ag Credit has grown and maintained independence because “we have never forgotten the nature of our mission … our culture is rooted in service and sound financial practices … therein lies Ag Credit’s basic secret to success.” At this point in time, Central Kentucky Ag Credit ranks among the most significant farm/rural lenders in the 17-county Bluegrass Region; has maintained independence and guidance with a skilled Board of Directors; maintains a highly competent Ag Credit staff; and the Association has risen to achieve high standards for credit quality and management practices.
Jim’s accomplishments have transcended his Ag Credit achievements. He continues to be Treasurer of the Kentucky Council of Cooperatives; he serves on the Board of the Kentucky Center for Agriculture and Rural Development (KCARD) and Baptist Health Foundation Richmond; and he is the past Chairman of the Ag First Farm Credit President’s Council, which is comprised of executives from 15 southern and eastern states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico.
Jim and his wife, Jeanne, will continue to reside in Madison County, and Jeanne is also scheduled to retire from her position with the Madison County School System. Their grown twin sons, Jake and Kirt, are both employed by banks in Lexington, KY.