ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA, U.S. — CHS, Inc. announced on Feb. 18 that it is returning a record $518 million to its owners.

"The ability of our owners, who are also our customers, to directly share in the financial success of CHS is a distinct advantage of being part of a cooperative business," said David Bielenberg, CHS board chairman and a Silverton, Oregon, U.S., farmer. "And, this is cash that returns to local communities, enabling farmers, ranchers and cooperatives to invest in their own futures."

Bielenberg added that the CHS board, which consists of 17 producers, strives to "take the long view" in regard to the company's future balancing significant investments in the company's future, direct cash returns to owners and a commitment to maintaining a strong balance sheet.

"It's about making sure that we're not only serving our owners and other customers with the products, services and marketing opportunities they need today, we're investing in what they'll need years and even decades from now," he said. "And we do it with an unwavering commitment to keeping CHS strong."

The 2015 cash return to owners is based on CHS net income of $1.1 billion, the company's second highest on record, for the fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2014. Over the past six years, CHS has returned more than $2.6 billion in cash to its agricultural producer and member cooperative owners, an amount equal to that returned the over 33 fiscal years prior from 1977 through 2009.

The distribution beginning this month to about 1,100 member cooperatives and nearly 59,000 individual members and others includes cash patronage paid based on their fiscal 2014 business with CHS. CHS is also distributing cash to member cooperatives that redeems equity in the company they earned in prior years. In addition, CHS will redeem equities of eligible individual members throughout 2015 and also will pay quarterly dividends to owners of its five classes of CHS preferred stock.

Patronage is based on business done with CHS by member-owner cooperatives and individual farmers and ranchers during fiscal 2014, while equity redemptions and preferred stock distributions represent retirement of ownership in CHS earned in past years.