High Plains Farm Credit’s momentum continues with a strong financial performance in 2019 and net earnings of $26.7 million. Following suit with the cooperative business model, the board of directors approved the return of 47% of those earnings in the form of patronage payments totaling $12.5 million to its member-owners. This surpasses the previous record and is now the largest patronage ever equating to just over a 1% return on business volume. This patronage effectively reduces the already competitive interest rates paid by our stockholders by 1%.
We continue to see investments in the HPFC Preferred Stock program, which increased from $5M to $5.7M in 2019. Cash dividends are paid semi-annually on all Preferred Investment Accounts. The average dividend rate for 2019 was 3.3%, which varied from 2.75-3.5% throughout the year. This is a great investment program for the stockholders right here at High Plains Farm Credit!
HPFC team members will be distributing patronage checks to the stockholders during the upcoming stockholder appreciation dinners in March and April. We are excited to be able to share this success and return these funds to the hands of our stockholders in their local communities.
2019 was a challenging year with low commodity prices and unusual weather patterns. We know there will be obstacles as we begin 2020, but we remain committed to our vision and are proud to be your preferred source of agriculture financing. As always, be sure to visit our website at www.HighPlainsFarmCredit.com for more information on any of our programs.
Chief Financial Officer