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American Banker: Expanding the Farm Credit System Won’t Help Rural America

As a veteran banker with a large agricultural portfolio in Kansas, I worked diligently with my colleagues from across rural America to convince Congress to stay the course and prevent granting the Farm Credit System additional lending authority in the recently enacted five-year farm bill. The ideas presented in the recent BankThink column by Lee Reiners to pursue the opposite path fundamentally ignore the reality on the ground in agricultural lending today. While rural America needs investment and support to thrive, any plan for long-term success should have commonsense proposals informed by full consideration of the facts. Simply put, the U.S. needs to let ag banks be ag banks, subject to the stringent regulations that protect consumers and taxpayers and ensure that the FCS adheres to its statutory mission. Continue Reading

Farm Credit Administration Ignores Farmers’ Concerns During Government Shutdown

On Friday, January 25, an agreement was reached to reopen the federal government after it had been shut down for the longest stretch in history. Federal workers went without pay, and even though many still worked during this time, essential services lapsed. Farmers across the country struggled, and many are still struggling, as crop insurance checks and operating loans normally issued by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) were not available. Farmers need certainty, and barring that, they need reassurance.

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Congressional Black Caucus Celebrates Holding Farm Credit Accountable

The 2018 Farm Bill is now law, and with it come assurances for farmers, ranchers and producers across the country.

One assurance has been a long time coming.

The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), the voice for the policy priorities of black members of Congress, touted one of its Farm Bill successes, now enacted into law: requiring the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a report on the loans the Farm Credit System (FCS) extends to socially disadvantaged farmers, including black farmers.

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Federal Charges Filed in CoBank Co-Op Blunder

Ashby Farmers Cooperative Elevator (AFCE) is a cooperative in Minnesota with a financial relationship with CoBank, one of the Farm Credit System’s (FCS) banks, and the only FCS institution permitted to lend to cooperatives. But AFCE has fallen on hard times because its former general manager, Jerry Hennessey, allegedly embezzled money from the co-op “to bankroll big-game hunting trips and other personal expenses.”

Things just got much worse for Mr. Hennessey.

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Farm Credit System Continues to Reject YBS Farmers Who Need Its Help Most

The Farm Credit System (FCS) is supposed to stand by young, beginning and small (YBS) farmers, ranchers and producers, making sure that they have reliable access to credit. And Farm Credit talks a big talk about the work it does to help YBS farmers.

Does it actually help? Last week, the Berkshire Eagle of western Massachusetts published a letter to the editor – a neighbor wrote in to call attention to the troubles of one of the last dairy farms in that part of the state. After working on the farm every day for forty years, the owners of Hav’s Farm are down but not out. They’re struggling with low milk prices, high feed costs and the fallout of a fire that could have engulfed the whole farm. Hav’s Farm has turned to a Go Fund Me campaign to stay afloat Continue Reading

Thank You Congress for Passing Farm Bill 2018

Every five years Congress revisits agricultural policy and passes a Farm Bill to make sure that the federal government does right by America’s farmers, ranchers and producers.

It’s been a long year, and the road to passage was bumpy, but today Congress completed passage of the Farm Bill for 2018! A big thanks to Congress for coming together to pass this gargantuan, monumental piece of legislation.

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Farm Credit Profits While Farmers Flounder

Farmers, ranchers and producers have tough jobs. Agriculture as a profession is naturally unpredictable – weather events affect crop yields, and crop yields directly affect what farmers earn on the market for what they produce.

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New Congress could mean more Farm Credit Oversight

The 2018 midterm elections yielded big gains for Democrats in the House of Representatives. Fortunately, reforming the Farm Credit System (FCS) isn’t a partisan issue, it’s a common sense one. And incoming chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), is set to take a close look at Farm Credit’s regulator, the Farm Credit Administration (FCA), in the 116th Congress. In a recent interview with The Fence Post, ranking member Peterson“said he would lead the committee to turn to oversight of the agencies over which the committee has jurisdiction. Those are USDA, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Food and Drug Administration and the Farm Credit Administration.”

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With Lack of Help from FCS, Farmers Creating Their Own Solutions

Farming’s a tough job, and few people would deny that. And because it’s tough, fewer younger people are becoming farmers and producers. That’s why the Farm Credit System (FCS) has a mandate to lend to young, beginning and small farmers. Short of automating most farms, American agriculture needs young people to become farmers to continue its proud tradition of feeding the country and the world.

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