Senior Democrat on House Committee on Agriculture Calls Out CoBank

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Last month the House Committee on Agriculture grilled the Farm Credit Administration (FCA) on its inability to keep the Farm Credit System (FCS) in check.

And word has been getting out.

Agri-Pulse interviewed Ranking Member Collin Peterson on its program Open Mic, and his appraisal of the FCA’s and the FCS’ activities was less than congratulatory:

Interviewer: “You also held a hearing recently in the House Ag. Committee with regard to Farm Credit. What were your impressions of that particular meeting?”

Rep. Peterson: “Well, you know, I don’t think folks did as good a job explaining the mission of Farm Credit as they should’ve, there was a lot of concern, most of the focus on what they were doing in terms of the situation with Verizon, and also Cracker Barrel.”

Rep. Peterson’s assessment was gracious, considering FCA CEO Kenneth Spearman’s answers, some of which left us scratching our heads. Rep. Peterson next spoke to CoBank’s spurious claim that it needs more diversity in its lending portfolio:

“I’m not sure that you could make the argument that CoBank, which was the one that was involved in this, really is in need of diversity because their loans are made to big co-ops, CHS, you know, sugar, dairy and so forth. So, I think CoBank has plenty of diversity to start with.”

Without a doubt, CoBank’s loan portfolio is diverse enough, and it should definitely not include any more loans for huge telecoms, failing foreign companies, luxury housing or vacation getaways.

Rep. Peterson’s comments are just the thing the FCA and the FCS need to hear. Without continued pressure from Congress, how can we ensure that the FCA will start enforcing the law and keep the FCS under control? Rep. Peterson’s comments are a step in the right direction, but more members of Congress need to start calling for the FCA to adhere to its mission and regulate the FCS – before taxpayers are left footing the bill.