Farm Credit’s Knack for Neglect

The Farm Credit System (FCS) is seemingly unconcerned with Congress’s decades old directive to serve young, beginning and small farmers and ranchers.

Here’s what the numbers show:

  • According to annual filings, the percentage of its total loans to this community dipped from 2012 to 2013
  • At the same time, the System’s profits increased from $4.34 to $4.64 billion while its asset size grew from $247 to $261 billion
  • Also worrying is the fact that despite its growth, which increases the risk to American taxpayers, its own effective tax rate dipped from 5.12 to 4.8 percent

These numbers tell a troubling story about an FCS that is increasingly vested in growing its size and scope at the expense of those it was intended to serve.

Let’s put an end to the Farm Credit System’s insatiable appetite for growth: tell Congress to administer oversight now.

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FCS is Supposed to Lend to Young, Small Farmers — So Why are they Lending to Huge Corporations?

When the Farm Credit System began about a hundred years ago, it started with noble intentions.

At a time when many farmers did not have readily available access to banks, and to credit, Farm Credit System banks offered a solution. They served areas, and a clientele, that more conventional and mainstream banks did not.

Over the years, as America’s infrastructure expanded, do did the availability of banking services.

As with many tools and ideas that were created for the circumstances of a less advanced time in history, the mission of the Farm Credit System changed in 1971, when Congress directed the System to lend to “young, small, and beginning farmers.”

Unfortunately, it seems like nobody told the people in charge at the Farm Credit System – or else, that FCS is thumbing their nose directly at the government and taxpayers that are directly responsible for their success.

In 2012, only 17% of Farm Credit System loans went to small farmers.

That same year, only 16% of FCS loans were given to beginning farmers.

Where did the rest go? To large entities, big businesses, and high net-worth individuals, of course.

You know – exactly the sort of people and organizations that aren’t in dire need of affordable and easily available lines of credit.

While all of the above participants aren’t technically in violation of the law, it’s hard not to question a large bank that is using the advantages it has been given to line its own pockets – instead of help the emerging business owners and small food producers that our country’s economy relies upon.

The Farm Credit System was set up to help farmers, and later directed to help the farmers that need it most. Instead, they’re participating in large corporate mergers and building vacation homes.

Something seems off about that, and it’s costing us all dearly.

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