Fresno Madera Farm Credit says it is making a record return to members of the cooperative.
The return of $19.4 million to member borrowers comes in a year beset with challenges for growers in the San Joaquin Valley, according to a news release from the association.
High production costs, lower prices for many commodities, and harvesting challenges made farming difficult.
“The decision to increase this year’s patronage distribution is a testament to our board’s understanding of the challenges our farmers and ranchers face,” said Keith Hesterberg, president and CEO of Madera Fresno Farm Credit. “It’s a reflection of our unwavering commitment to stand with our members — especially when times are a bit more challenging.”
Obstacles Include High Fertilizer Costs, Water Pumping Restrictions
As a cooperative, Fresno Madera Farm Credit returns excess earnings to members each year. The $19.4 million represents 1% of each member’s average daily borrowing for 2023 and comes from the board’s understanding of the economic landscape.
“It’s not just about providing financial relief; it’s a decision that demonstrates our understanding of the many challenges that came with higher interest costs, and other pressures that reduced the profitability of many of our members,” said Jeff Yribarren, board chair of Fresno Madera Farm Credit.
While water costs were low in a year of record rainfall, higher production costs associated with interest rates made borrowing difficult for farmers.
Farmers also found themselves paying two to three times more for inputs such as fertilizer, according to KCRA3 in Sacramento.
And, as 2014’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act continues to roll out, farmers mandated to pump less water are faced with needing to fallow land.
Looking ahead, the California Department of Water Resources in December 2023 announced an initial 10% allocation to water agencies.