Nearly 300 local farmers to share $447,323 refund

Published 10:36 am Wednesday, June 8, 2011

MECHANICSVILLE—Some 298 farmers who are Colonial Farm Credit customers in Southampton and Isle of Wight counties will share $447,323 refunded by the agriculture cooperative.

That’s $102,000 more than last year’s refund, when 285 farmers from both counties shared $345,000.

“We had some extra income through some accounting stuff and a pretty decent year for us, so we threw it back to the folks,” said Jim Belfield, chief information officer for Colonial Farm Credit in Mechanicsville.

The agricultural lending cooperative returned more than one-third of its income to its customers in the form of a patronage refund. The cooperative announced Tuesday customers in eastern Virginia and southern Maryland will share a total of $6 million in patronage refund checks.

Of that, $1.7 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.

“Farm Credit continues to serve the farmer as a reliable source of funding,” Forbes said. “I am pleased to say they are continuing the mission that Congress intended for them way back in 1916.”

Belfield noted that during a typical year, customers see a 14 to 16 percent return on interest paid; this year it was 18 percent.

“If you paid $1,000 in interest, we would return $180,” he said. “So it was really nice that we were able to do it this year because the economy’s a little sour. We’re a cooperative, so everybody that borrows from us is a customer and member.”

The 106 customers in Isle of Wight County received a total of $142,200, while the 192 in Southampton County will share $305,123.

“During the run-up to this recession, we focused on providing reasonable credit to good quality borrowers,” said Greg Farmer, president and chief executive officer of Colonial Farm Credit. “Our customers are to be complimented on how they handled their finances and their businesses, and this patronage refund is a way we can reward them for that.”

Colonial Farm Credit provides more than $630 million in financing to over 5,200 customer-owners in eastern Virginia and southern Maryland. The cooperative employs 81 people and operates 14 offices throughout the region. The organization loans funds and provides financing expertise to farmers, agribusinesses and rural homeowners for land and home purchases and farm operating purposes.