The three Florida Farm Credit associations' Board of Directors recently declared $15.5 million in patronage dividends to qualified borrowers of the agricultural lending cooperatives throughout the state. This announcement comes as the associations celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Farm Credit system.
"Our unique cooperative model allows Farm Credit to return profits to its members - something no other financial institution in our area does," Rick Bitner, Farm Credit of Northwest Florida President and Chief Executive Officer said. "Patronage helps reward members for their loyalty to the associations and returns money directly into the communities we serve."
Every year, the associations' Board of Directors' review the cooperatives' financial positions and determine the amount of patronage that can be distributed to its members. Since 1988, Farm Credit associations in Florida have declared patronage refunds exceeding $540 million.
"Our associations' board of directors, which are made of local farmers, growers and business professionals, are proud to be able send this money back into our local economies to support those growers and ranchers who are in return supporting agriculture," said Greg Cunningham, Farm Credit of Florida President and Chief Executive Officer.
The declared patronage can lower a member's rate by as much as 0.75%. Eligible member-borrowers received their checks in early April.
"Cash patronage not only benefits our members' wallets, it reduces their overall cost of borrowing and helps them understand the link between their investment in the associations and the benefits derived from membership in a cooperative," Reginald Holt Farm Credit of Central Florida President and Chief Executive Officer said.
Farm Credit associations in Florida are member-owned agricultural lending cooperatives serving the entire state of Florida. The Florida associations include Farm Credit of Northwest Florida, Farm Credit of Central Florida and Farm Credit of Florida. Part of the nationwide Farm Credit System established in 1916, Farm Credit associations in Florida provide loans, leases and crop insurance to over 4,500 farmers, ranchers, growers and rural homeowners across the state.