Farms =/= Golf Courses

Are farms and golf courses one in the same?

We don’t think so, either.

But don’t tell that to Carolina Farm Credit, whose idea of “serving the credit needs of rural America” evidently includes underwriting publicly-backed loans for manicured putting greens, challenging bunkers and pristine fairways.

Bert Ely first reported in 2002 that Carolina Farm Credit had lent $4.5 million earlier that year to Fox Den Development Company for 400 acres of developable land that would include “an exciting 18-hole championship golf course” to be complemented by “luxurious” homes.

As it turns out, the loan, which for starters should raise questions over interpretations of the Farm Credit Act, went belly up.

The Charlotte Observer reported last year that “a limited liability company called Fox Den Acquisitions acquired the golf course and other property…after Carolina Farm Credit initiated foreclosure when Fox Den Development Co. defaulted on other loans.”

It’s not surprising, but no less alarming, that this is hardly an isolated incident.

Whether lending to – and later foreclosing on – a millionaire’s winery or seeking the “recreational property” business of Garden & Gun’s readership, the Farm Credit System is unafraid and unashamed to expend resources on non-agricultural loans at the expense of those it was intended to serve in rural America. This is reflected in the 15 percent decrease of Farm Credit’s total volume of loans to small farmers over the past 10 years.

This pattern of behavior would almost be comical if it weren’t gravely true. For today’s FCS, a loss of focus leading to luxury pursuits including golf courses is, unfortunately, par for the course.

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Does the USDA’s $4bn farm assistance work? No one knows for sure.

As reported by the Washington Free Beacon, a USDA Office of the Inspector General (OIG) audit recently concluded that the department does not know – and has no way of determining – if its annual beginning farmers initiative totaling nearly $4 billion has had any positive impact whatsoever.

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Farm Credit Wants to Finance Your Next Non-Ag Venture

The most recent edition of Garden & Gun magazine features a full-page advertisement sponsored by Farm Credit that encourages you to look to the GSE to finance your next country home or recreational property.

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Happy Birthday, FCA! Now, Time for a New Regulator…

This week marks the 82nd birthday of the Farm Credit Administration.

If you haven’t heard of the FCA, you’re not alone. Since being charged by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1933 to begin regulating the Farm Credit System, the little-known federal agency has eluded scrutiny. This is disconcerting because the FCA has, at least in recent times, become Farm Credit’s chief enabler.

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