Written By: Leah Chester-Davis & Bruce Arrington
Customer members of Carolina Farm Credit share in the cooperative’s earnings and have a voice in helping decide the leadership by voting on board members. In part 1, Loan Officer Bruce Arrington shared details on each. Here, he adds two more benefits that help make the Carolina Farm Credit experience both beneficial and unique.
Networking and Learning Opportunities
To share in the success of the stockholder or cash dividend program, each Carolina Farm Credit branch hosts a customer appreciation event every April. As Arrington shared in part 1 of this series, that while Carolina Farm Credit cannot guarantee future dividends, it can point to a long history of paying a strong patronage dividend where customer members have their effective rates of interest lowered by as much as 1%.
April celebrations bring together customer members, Carolina Farm Credit personnel and board members, and special guests to enjoy a meal together. The celebration includes time when dividend checks and door prizes are distributed.
Having a check handed to you is hard to beat, but the customer appreciation events offer yet another worthy benefit. In addition to the fun fellowship over a meal, they often turn into helpful networking and learning opportunities for the rural and agricultural community.
“It’s neat to see people of all different levels of farming at these events, from large, full-time farmers to young, beginning, small farmers. We really get a good representation of all levels of farmers. That’s really cool to see.” Arrington says it’s not unusual for farmers to share both successes and failures as a way others can learn from their experiences.
Knowledge and Products Tailored to Agriculture
Another benefit for customer members is the access to loan officers and other personnel who either are personally involved in agriculture with their own farm operations or who have worked extensively with agriculture. That leads to products and services that can be tailored to what works best for you and your farm operation.
An example, shares Arrington, is structuring payments either monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually to mirror your cash flow. “We can do that if farm operation income is flowing in at different times of the year.
“A one-size-fits-all approach does not work anymore. We take the time to get to know your operation, so, ultimately, our financial products and services are matched to your farm’s goals, objectives, and needs. Be sure to talk with your loan officer about questions or if needs change.”