Ag leaders on alert after suggestion to erase FCS

Senior Editor

WASHINGTON (June 30, 2015) — A call upon Congress by the American Bankers Association to eliminate the Farm Credit System is getting no traction in the legislative halls within the nation’s capital.
That assurance came from Kurt Fuchs, government affairs officer for MidAtantic Farm Credit, who characterized the effort as “outlandish.”
In a radio interview held in mid-April, the president of the American Bankers Association, Frank Keating, said it is his goal to eliminate the Farm Credit System.
“At this point,” said Fuchs, “we are aware of no legislative/regulatory effort seeking to carry out Mr. Keating’s outlandish call.”
In an alert sent to federal lawmakers, Fuchs said Keating’s characterization of Farm Credit as a “creature of the Great Depression,” conveniently forgets that the FCS was chartered more than a decade prior to the stock market crash of October 1929 that marked the beginning of the depression era.
In a strong rebuttal to Keating’s statements, Fuchs said 42 national farm, commodity, and rural organizations called out the ABA president and made clear their view that this goal is unacceptable and that they would actively oppose it.
The suggested undermining of the Farm Credit System was met immediately by strong opposition from a large group (42) of national farm, commodity and rural organizations including the American Farm Bureau expressing support for Farm Credit.
The New Jersey Farm Bureau joined the chorus. In its weekly newsletter, the NJFB noted that, “simply put, farmers are able to benefit from competition for agricultural loans.”
In fact, farmers and farm organizations tout the present conditions in agricultural lending wherein Farm Credit units and commercial banks work cooperatively in supporting producers with financial tools that are vital to their business.
Eliminating FCS would be “unwelcome and injurious to those who live and work in rural America,” said the NJFB.
In a letter to federal lawmakers, Donnie Tennyson, president of the Maryland Grain Producers Association, asserted that “credit availability is absolutely critical to MGPA members. The FCS as well as rural and other commercial banks play vital roles in ensuring that farmers and other rural Americans have access to constructive, competitive credit on an ongoing basis.”
The array of credit products offered by both Farm Credit and commercial banks – often in a collaborative, cooperative manner — ensures that agricultural producers and our industry sector partners have access to financial tools that are vital to our success and economic sustainability, Tennyson wrote.
Rather than calling for the elimination of the FCS, Tennyson told the bank president, “we believe it would make more sense to find improved ways to work collaboratively with Farm Credit and other credit providers for the benefit of farmers and rural communities.”
“The stakes are simply too high for Maryland farmers to have fewer financing options to meet the challenges of advancing rural economic growth.”