For years now, the Farm Credit System’s (FCS) regulator, the Farm Credit Administration (FCA), hasn’t had a full executive board. If the board loses another member, then it cannot “transact business,” and Farm Credit’s regulator loses its ability to meaningfully regulate. Fortunately, President Biden has put forward a nominee.
This week, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry will hold a hearing to consider whether Vincent Logan should serve as one of the FCA’s board members. In doing so, all committee members will have the opportunity to ask questions about how Mr. Logan will oversee the System and ensure that it sticks to its mission in a way that’s amenable to Congress and the public. In short, this is an excellent opportunity to see whether Mr. Logan intends to hold Farm Credit accountable.
Though there’s no shortage of questions that senators on the committee could ask, Reform Farm Credit recommends at least some of the following.
As a board member of the FCA, how will you address:
- The spate of FCS mergers? Farm Credit institutions across the country are merging at an alarming rate. How can FCA ensure that the boards of new institutions represent local farmers?
- Farm Credit’s record of lending for young, beginning and small (YBS) farmers? How should the FCA approach Farm Credit’s current lending patterns for YBS farmers?
- Farm Credit’s out-of-bounds lending for purposes outside of FCS’s mission, such as for luxury vacation properties?
- Vetting of Farm Credit loans to “similar entities”? Will the FCA vet Farm Credit loans to “similar entities” so that large public companies, like Verizon, are not receiving loans from government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) like Farm Credit?
- Further capitalizing the Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation (FCSIC) to increase premiums so that the FCS doesn’t need a $10 billion line of credit from the Treasury?
These are just a few questions that committee members could ask, and if they asked them they’d be off to a great start. These questions cover pressing issues and deserve immediate answers from any well-qualified nominee. Congress ought to exercise its authority and make sure that the FCA can actually do its job under the right leadership. The Committee ought to entertain tough questions and determine whether the nominee wants to hold Farm Credit accountable.