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Borrowers earn return from AgSouth
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STATESBORO — AgSouth Farm Credit, a rural lending cooperative, announced earnings of $33 million during 2008, down slightly from the association’s 2007 year-end figures.

CEO William P. Spigener Jr. explained that the strength of the association held up even with “the unprecedented instability of the financial market and the slow down in the economy” that has affected other financial institutions.

He attributes the strength of the cooperative to “precautions taken over the past few years to help protect AgSouth’s customers from the adverse affects of a downward sliding economy and the commitment of the association’s customers, directors, management and staff.”

Unlike other lenders, AgSouth provides patronage refunds, a form of profit sharing, to its borrowers. AgSouth expects to distribute 2008 patronage of about $28 million — 25 percent of interest earned — among borrowers this month, CFO Alisa D. Gunter said.

Since 1991, the association has returned more than $234 million in cash to its borrowers. As of Dec. 31, 2008, AgSouth had more than 6,800 members; $1.5 billion in assets; and $228 million in capital and allocated accounts.

AgSouth provides loans for agriculture and agriculture-related businesses, equipment, vehicles and facilities. The association also makes secondary home loans for rural home purchases, construction and refinancing.