Jerry Nickel is the President and founder of Midwest Ag Finance, a financial services firm based in Rushville that services a loan portfolio of $170 million and insures 190,000 crop acres in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. A native of Hamilton County, Nickel graduated from Purdue University in 1975 with a B.S. in Animal Science.
Nickel grew up on the historic Lynwood Farm in Carmel where his grandfather worked for more than 50 years and his father managed the show herd of Polled Shorthorns. Nickel was active in 4-H and was an accomplished showman of Polled Shorthorn cattle and Berkshire hogs. At Purdue he was a member of Alpha Gamma Rho and competed on the meats and livestock judging teams. After graduating from Purdue, he took a position managing a farm in central Kentucky, but returned to Indiana in 1980. Nickel took a position as ag loan officer with Production Credit Association in Rushville, thinking it would be temporary until he could get back into production agriculture. But it turned out that he had found his calling. Nickel was hired by Rush County National Bank in 1985 where he developed the bank’s ag loan portfolio. He stayed with the bank through several mergers and acquisitions, eventually working for Norwest Bank. He became Norwest’s Regional Ag Credit Administrator for the Indiana region. In that role he worked with bank management to develop ag credit policy and mentored the region’s agricultural lenders. In 1998, amidst tremendous bank consolidation, Nickel saw a niche for a specialized agricultural finance company with local ties to its borrowers. He assembled investors and founded Midwest Ag Finance (MAF) with three employees. Today the company has 37 employees, including crop insurance agents. MAF has gained a reputation of integrity and commitment to working diligently with clients to achieve financial soundness and success in the volatile agriculture market. MAF’s impact on the Indiana ag credit community is impressive: just over 25% of the loans guaranteed by the Indiana Farm Service Agency (FSA) are originated by MAF. Cumulatively, the company has over $86 million in loans guaranteed by FSA, nearly twice as much as FSA’s second most active lender. FSA attributes this to Nickel and his commitment to producers and his business acumen in effective structuring of agricultural loans.
Nickel has been active with the Indiana Ag Bankers Society, serving from 1985-93 in the roles of President and Secretary/Treasurer. He has served on the Ag Committee of the Indiana Bankers Association (1989-95). In 2007 he was an invited lecturer for the Mid America Cooperative Council Credit Conference. He was a member of Sen. Dan Quayle’s ag advisory committee (1988) and the Indiana Agriculture Strategic Planning Committee (2002).
Nickel’s service to Central Christian Church in Connersville is extensive. He has served as Chair of the Church Board, Chair of the Financial Committee, Treasurer of the Church Board, Small Group Lay Minister and a host of other committees. He is currently the Chair of the Board of Elders. During his leadership of the Church Board, Nickel led the church through a difficult period of divisiveness, eventually restoring the congregation to spiritual and financial health. Since 2006 he has served on the board of directors of Paraclete Retreat Center, Inc. in Brown County, Indiana. Paraclete is a non-denominational center with the purpose of facilitating Christian spiritual growth for individuals and organizations.