–Sarah Worobey, Farm Credit loan officer
The most common question I am asked when talking with new members of Farm Credit is "How are you different from the other ag lenders?" This has always been an important discussion piece for me when working with new and existing members of our Association. Our cooperative structure is truly unique, and sets us apart from other financial institutions.
The main purpose of a cooperative is to recognize the economic, cultural and social needs of the organization's members and its surrounding community. Here at Farm Credit, we have a strong commitment to our local community and a focus on strengthening the areas we serve.
With October being National Cooperative Month, I would like to focus on three main benefits Farm Credit provides to its borrowers:
1. We are member-owned.
Every borrower of Farm Credit holds a share of ownership within our association. As a member, you receive a share of our profits at year-end based on the association’s performance throughout the year. This is called patronage. This program in turn lowers our members’ cost of borrowing over the life of their loans, serving as a win-win for our members and the association overall. If you look just at our numbers from 2020, we distributed $54.5 million in cash to our membership. This was not only a record for our association, but something we were very proud to be able to provide our communities, especially during the hardships that came along with the pandemic.
2. We are a part of your community.
Not only do we live and work in your neighborhood, we also participate in the same local events, charities, and community engagements as our members. From attending local fairs and supporting customers’ families with purchasing livestock from 4-H and FFA students, to volunteering at local food banks to make sure our communities have food to take home to their family. MidAtlantic Farm Credit donated $95,000 to local food banks in our footprint during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. We also awarded $100,000 in scholarships to youth across our footprint who are pursing degrees for careers in agriculture. Our employees volunteered over 2,000 hours of personal time to their local communities, and donated $6,700 of their own money back to various charities and organizations throughout 2020. It truly is in our core to give back, which is another aspect that makes Farm Credit so unique.
3. Our Board of Directors are your local farmers and neighbors.
Farm Credit’s board members are our biggest advocates when it comes to promoting agriculture throughout their communities. They are your neighbors, friends, 4-H youth leaders – individuals who also believe in the Farm Credit system and hold the same values as you and your family. Our directors are an important asset to the Association’s continued success by determining patronage distributions and programs that are available to our members.
Throughout my years at Farm Credit, I know I have asked my customers what they appreciate the most about the association, and many of them comment about the patronage checks, but most importantly, they value the relationships built here through our cooperative. To learn more about joining our association to further your dreams on the farm, visit mafc.com or call 888.339.3334.