Kansas Ag Banker: Expanding FCS Won’t Help Rural America

Responding to a recent American Banker op-ed calling for the expansion of the Farm Credit System, Leonard Wolfe, president and chairman at United Bank and Trust in Marysville, Kan., said that any effort to do so would “fundamentally ignore the reality on the ground in agricultural lending today” and ultimately do little to help rural America.

“Expanding and empowering a massive, centralized government-sponsored enterprise — and in the process undercutting rural community banks — is simply a bad idea, one which minimizes the important work rural community banks do to maintain and strengthen their communities,” he said in an op-ed also published in American Banker.

Wolfe highlighted several ways the FCS has failed to live up to its statutory mission to serve the nation’s young, beginning and small farmers. For example, new lending to these groups decreased across all categories in 2017, while FCS institutions continued to cherry-pick loans and use its tax-exempt status to offer favored terms to large agricultural operations, he noted. He added that Congress sent a clear signal by not including any expansion of FCS lending authority in the 2018 Farm Bill that it “wants to keep a close eye on those Farm Credit activities.”