Farmers to get refund from credit union

Published 8:14 am Friday, July 9, 2010

MECHANICSVILLE—Some 285 farmers, who are Colonial Farm Credit customers in Southampton and Isle of Wight counties, will share $345,000 refunded by the agricultural cooperative.

“It’s a return of the money we made during the year at their investment,” said Jim Belfield, Chief Information Officer for Colonial Farm Credit in Mechanicsville.

The cooperative announced Wednesday that customers in eastern Virginia and southern Maryland will share a total of $5 million in patronage refund checks.

Of that, $1.39 million will go to farmers in the Fourth District represented by U.S. Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-Va., who joined Farm Credit directors and local farmers to announce the refund in his district.

“The Farm Credit System was envisioned by Congress in 1916 to provide financing to farmers and rural residents at a time when there were no other financing sources,” Forbes said. “I am glad that they are still here to provide a sound and secure source of funds for our agricultural community, especially in this period of economic uncertainty.”

Colonial Farm Credit is part of the nationwide Farm Credit system of lending cooperatives serving rural America. Because Farm Credit associations are structured as member-owned cooperatives, they are able to return a portion of their income to their customers in the form of a patronage refund.

“Our focus on serving the agriculture and rural marketplace and our conservative lending

practices have enabled us to weather the most recent financial storms and still return money to our customer-owners,” said Greg Farmer, president and chief executive officer of Colonial Farm Credit.

“It is important to me, not just as a director for Farm Credit, but also as a local farmer, that Farm Credit remains a strong source of funding in both good times and in bad times,” added Robert Spiers Jr., a farmer in Dinwiddie County and a member of the board of directors, which approved this refund amount.

Colonial Farm Credit provides more than $660 million in financing to over 5,100 customer-owners. The cooperatives employ 83 people and operate12 offices throughout the region. The organization loans funds and provides financing expertise to farmers, agribusinesses and rural homeowners for land, home, and farm purchases.