As part of its commitment to the island’s agriculture, Puerto Rico Farm Credit will pay $1.7 million in 2017 dividends to its client-shareholders this month, the agency announced.
These dividends will be paid in the form of an interest percentage on every PRFC client loan, it added.
This year, PRFC left $1.1 million in unpaid interests in the hands of the Puerto Rican agricultural industry after granting principal and interest moratoriums to farmer members and clients who have residential mortgages. The total cash amount in the hands of its shareholders exceeded $2.7 million.
In 2016, PRFC distributed dividends amounting to $1.6 million. In the past four years, they disbursed dividends in excess of $4.9 million, which meant they returned 26 percent of the interest their customers had paid.
Paying dividends is part of the benefits offered by PRFC’s co-op model. In addition, it points to the excellent financial health of the agricultural credit union, which has been serving the island for about 96 years. As an affiliate of the Farm Credit System it has the support of other 73 agricultural credit unions throughout the US mainland.
“Declaring and paying dividends represents our commitment to growing our island’s agribusiness [sector]. As always, it is a way of thanking our members for their support and their contributions to the Association, but this year — following [Hurricane] María’s impact — it is also money that stays in the hands of farmers when they need it most,” said PRFC President, Ricardo L. Fernández.
PRFC ’s board of directors will continue to monitor risk factors — including climate change, the government’s fiscal policy and the island’s general economic conditions, among others — to safeguard the institution’s financial health as well as that of the agribusinesses it serves.
The association has 36 percent of Tier 1 Capital — which allows it to withstand credit deterioration within their loan portfolio. Fernández said even after the passage of Hurricane Maria, they have not experienced much credit deterioration.
In 2017, the main agricultural assets were dairy products, fruits (including plantains and coffee,) and rural households; which amounted to approximately $101 million of all the issued loans.
PRFC’s 2018 plans will focus on helping the agricultural sector recover after Hurricane María and on promoting the development of the island’s different agricultural sectors.
The goal is to demonstrate the viability of agribusinesses’, as well as their ability to grow and remain competitive in a changing market and within an island that is getting back on its feet, agency officials said.