This week the Farm Credit System (FCS) celebrates its 100 year anniversary by descending on Washington, DC to schmooze policy-makers at a congressional reception and to hold a luncheon honoring its Farm Credit 100 Fresh Perspectives Honorees. With so many of the FCS’s members in close proximity, it would make sense for them to hold an event so that they could share ideas on how to improve their services, right?
Though the FCS had planned on hosting an Idea Share event, as it did in years past, the Farm Credit Council (FCC), the FCS’s lobbying arm, recently issued a memorandum quashing the event. According to the FCC’s president, Todd Van Hoose, the FCC “elected to discontinue Idea Share” because of “the recently announced strategic shift in direction for reputation management at the Farm Credit Council.”
The answer is simple: the FCS needs a strategy for reputation management because its own activities have sullied its reputation and it can’t withstand outside scrutiny. Year after year, the FCS lends to huge telecoms, short changes small farmers and finances luxury properties while benefitting from tax exemption. When presented with the overwhelming evidence of the FCS’s mission creep, any reasonable person’s opinion of the FCS would fall drastically.
But instead of stopping questionable practices, the FCS and the FCC have decided that it’s easier to treat the symptom rather than cure the disease – that it’s easier to hide mentions of their questionable practices and say goodbye to the transparency that all taxpayers should demand from a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE).
Both the House and the Senate have started to unravel just how far the FCS has strayed from its mission, and now they have seen how complicit the Farm Credit Administration (FCA), the FCS’s regulator, has been in facilitating and rationalizing the FCS’s mission creep. Sooner rather than later, Congress needs to act to stop the FCS from hiding in the shadows and abusing taxpayers’ trust.