Spokane Journal of Business

Northwest Farm Credit Services hits new high with $54.8 million refund

Cooperative here allocates $54.8 million in patronage checks to its shareholders

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Northwest Farm Credit Services, the big Spokane-based ag-lending cooperative, says it's sending to its stockholders patronage refund checks totaling a record $54.8 million.

The total is $1.8 million higher than last year's $53 million in refunds paid to stockholders. It brings the total amount of refunds to stockholders since 2000 to $377 million, says Jennifer Rohrer, spokeswoman for the cooperative.

Northwest Farm Credit provides financing, crop insurance, and related services to farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses, commercial fishermen, timber producers, and rural homeowners in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Alaska.

FCS board Chairman Kevin Riel said that providing the refund annually to eligible customer-owners lowers their net cost of borrowing money.

The association has more than 13,000 voting stockholders, and a key cooperative principle is returning a portion of net earnings to stockholders. To ensure the refunds are equitable, it allocates such money, called patronage, based on their eligible annual average loan volume. It distributes most of the cash in January, based on the association's overall financial performance in the previous calendar year.

The association leases a 61,400-square-foot office building at 1700 S. Assembly on Sunset Hill, where its headquarters is located, and operates 45 branches in the five states it serves. It employs about 650 employees overall.

Treva Lind
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