Federal lawmakers in Iowa sound the alarm on Farm Credit

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Iowa – a state with a longstanding agricultural tradition. If someone says something about agriculture there, people across the country should be sure to listen.

Well alarm bells are ringing.

Just over two weeks ago, Radio Iowa reported a story that wouldn’t surprise Reform Farm Credit’s regular readers: Federal candidates in Iowa air concerns about Farm Credit System. In what amounts to a striking condemnation of the Farm Credit System’s (FCS) current course, eight current federal candidates, some being current officeholders, expressed the grave concerns they have with the FCS.

Some had already expressed their concerns at hearings before the House and Senate committees on agriculture, including Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Rep. Steve King (R-IA). Sen. Grassley had roundly criticized the FCS’s inability to answer to charges that it operates outside of its charter. Of course, this came only after Rep. King had to confirm that the Farm Credit Administration’s chairman actually knew what the FCS’s charter is.

And now even more voices have joined the call for reform. Former Iowa Agriculture Secretary Patty Judge, a Democrat, noted that “there are probably reforms that need to be made.” And in an even more critical vein, congressional candidates on both sides of the aisle criticized the FCS’s loans to Cracker Barrel and Verizon, calling for more monitoring and oversight.

But of all of the Iowa congressional candidates, Rep. Rod Blum (R-IA) made the best point: “They’ve made some very big loans to some very large and profitable customers that whether they’re ag related is very, very questionable.”

And that’s putting it lightly: The FCS has made loans for vacation houses, a loan to a foreign lumber company and loans for automobiles, college tuition, investments and vacation homes.

Congress has started to notice – good. But now’s the time to clamp down on the FCS’s neglect, risk and waste. The FCS desperately needs reform, and candidates, voters and officeholders in Iowa are clamoring for it.