The Farm Credit System (FCS) has been having some serious trouble with the law.
In December 2015 there was a House Agriculture Committee to review some of the FCS’s more egregious missteps, followed by a February 2016 ruling issued by a judge in Connecticut who suggested that “the IRS, other relevant federal agencies and state officials may want to look at them,” which in turn was followed by an oversight hearing before the Senate Committee on Agriculture.
It doesn’t end there though: the FCS is also facing fraud charges.
AgSouth Farm Credit, based in Florida, is being sued for fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress. According to the Florida Record, a farm in Florida is suing AgSouth Farm Credit after it allegedly issued the farm owners “a demand letter to apply for refinancing for the remainder of [their] loan at $400,000 or face foreclosure.”
That would be ok if the farm owners owed AgSouth Farm Credit the sum, but the plaintiffs allege that they don’t: “the loan was satisfied on March 20, 2010.”
“Upon examination of the incomplete documents provided by the defendant, including a fixed rate note, the plaintiffs noticed that it affixed their forged signature and was signed from a branch they have never been to. Furthermore, some important documents pertaining to the Houghs’ farm plan were noticeably missing.”
Fraud is a serious allegation, and it’s important to keep in mind that, even in civil trials, we should give the benefit of the doubt to the accused. But outside of a court of law, it’s also important for policymakers and taxpayers to notice a pattern of accusations of certain behavior. And straying outside of its mission and engaging in questionable business practices is something that the FCS as a whole is no stranger to.
This accusation is disturbing, and if it’s proved then it will be a formidable link in the chain of the FCS’s malfeasance. The Farm Credit Administration (FCA) exists to rein in the FCS so that individual associations don’t abandon their mission or commit crimes or civil wrongdoing. If the FCA won’t step in, then Congress needs to. Congress – whether it’s the House or Senate Committees on Agriculture of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform or the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs – needs to act before it’s too late.