For the third year in a row, Farm Credit Mid-America is returning money to eligible customers as part of its Patronage program. This year, the financial services cooperative will distribute record Patronage – $146 million – to eligible customers.
“With this year’s Patronage, the total returned to our customer/owners since 2016 will be $262 million,” said Bill Johnson, Farm Credit Mid-America president and CEO. “This is an especially gratifying year because of the challenging economy and market uncertainties farmers have and continue to face.”
“This year, Patronage will provide real help during a time of real need.”
Last year, the association shared back $87.9 million, and in 2016, its first year for Patronage, distributed $27.8 million for a three-year average of $87 million. Patronage is not a guarantee – the association’s board annually has to approve the program, and not all customers will receive a check. Of the association’s $23-billion portfolio, $11.4 billion is Patronage eligible.
This third year of the program also shows the power and benefit of belonging to a cooperative, Johnson added.
“Our commitment to sharing profits with our farmers comes from our structure,” said Johnson. “Our farmers are borrowers, but they’re also investor/owners – they have a stake in the association and in our success.”
In addition to Patronage, customer/owners can participate in annual Board of Director and Nominating Committee Elections, and can vote on issues that might influence the operations of the association.
“Our farmers are like family,” Johnson said. “We work hard to do our best for them, to help them make their operations as successful as can be. Few lenders offer this type of advantage.”
Farm Credit Mid-America is a part of the national Farm Credit System, serving farmers and rural residents in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Nationally the system provides more than one-third of the credit needed by those who live and work in rural America. With more than $23 billion in loans to more than 100,000 borrowers, FCMA is a very strong provider of U.S. agricultural credit and thus able to offer customers Patronage.
Association leaders will personally deliver Patronage checks by hand – there are 36,000 total checks and leaders will hand-deliver all that exceed $20,000 – with the remaining arriving by mail the week of March 25-29. The average check amount is about $3,000, and there are 1,000 checks that are greater than $20,000.
The amount each eligible customer will receive is proportionate to the transaction level with FCMA during 2018. Patronage is not funded by rate increases and rates are not increased to pay Patronage. Interest rates change daily and are market driven.
Additionally, Patronage is considered taxable income. For the 2019 Patronage program, FCMA, in January 2020, will send an IRS Form to Patronage-eligible recipients, who are encouraged to speak with their financial advisor.
Patronage is an annual program, and the decision to pay Patronage will continue to be reviewed each year by Farm Credit Mid-America’s Board of Directors. The terms of the program are determined on an annual basis.