Texas Farm Credit, a borrower-owned lending cooperative, is distributing $4.55 million in cash to its customers this spring. The payment is part of $13 million in total patronage declared on the lender’s 2014 earnings.

As a co-op, Texas Farm Credit keeps only the earnings needed to support its ongoing operations, and returns the remainder to its borrowers, who are also stockholders and owners in the business. When borrowers receive their checks in April, it will mark the 17th consecutive year that the lender has distributed earnings through its patronage program.

Patronage payments effectively lower borrowing costs by returning a portion of the interest customers have paid on their loans. With this year’s total patronage declaration, Texas Farm Credit is returning 36 cents of every dollar borrowers paid in interest in 2014 — more than one-third in cash now, and the balance when the lender distributes the remaining allocated equities in the future.

The payment is possible because of Texas Farm Credit’s strong financial results. Early in 2014, it was formed by the merger of AgriLand Farm Credit and Texas AgFinance, two lending cooperatives with deep agricultural roots.

“Our merger was a great success, leading to a lending association with a diverse borrowing base and portfolio,” said Mark Miller, Texas Farm Credit chief executive officer. “We see the results in our strong earnings, loan volume and credit quality, and are excited to share our success with our borrowers through this year’s patronage payment.”

The lending co-op reported $18.1 million in net income for the year ended Dec. 31, 2014. Loan volume at year-end was $925.8 million, a 15.5 percent increase over the previous year, with 99.2 percent of loans rated acceptable and special mention. In 2014, Texas Farm Credit distributed over $10 million in cash patronage and previously allocated equities to its customers.