Family farm ravaged by Mississippi tornado getting some creative help

Published 9:40 pm Friday, September 1, 2023

A family farm in the Mississippi Delta received a Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) $20,000 Small Business Recovery Grant. The funds were awarded through FHLB Dallas member, BankPlus, to help the farm recover from a March tornado that substantially destroyed the business.

Merrie Butler, a retired paralegal and co-owner of Martin Farms, has lived in Silver City, Mississippi, her whole life. When her father died last year, he left Martin Farms to Ms. Butler and her two sisters. Martin Farms owns 2,400 acres that produces corn, soybeans and cotton. The property includes a horse arena for barrel racing and roping and a shop to repair farming equipment.

On March 24, a tornado hit Silver City and other Southeast cities, killing 26 people. Ms. Butler remained safely hidden in her guest bathroom. But, once the tornado passed, she discovered that her home, the farm shop and farm equipment sustained heavy damage. The barn and horse arena were essentially destroyed.

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“With so much destruction you don’t know where to turn. As the weeks go by you wonder where to start,” Ms. Butler said. “I am so blessed that BankPlus was sent my way. Them reaching out was a tremendous help.”

BankPlus, which reached out to small businesses and farmers in the disaster area that were known to have sustained damage, said the Small Business Recovery Grant is helping businesses regain a sense of normalcy.

“The Small Business Recovery grant is an important tool in helping businesses and communities recover and rebuild,” said Mark Ouellette, BankPlus senior vice president and director of Affordable Housing Program. “That includes area farms which took a hard hit in the storms.”

FHLB Dallas made $2.5 million available in April through its member institutions for eligible businesses to support at least 125 small businesses in Arkansas and Mississippi with grants up to $20,000 each. To date, 101 businesses have received nearly $2 million in assistance. More than $500,000 remains available.

“The support provided through our members such as BankPlus ensures that small businesses like Martin Farms can successfully recover after a disaster,” said Greg Hettrick, senior vice president and director of Community Investment at FHLB Dallas.

For more information about disaster programs, visit