FCA Chairman and CEO Dallas Tonsager Dies at 64

Dallas Tonsager, board chairman and CEO of the Farm Credit Administration died of lymphoma on May 21; he was 64. Tonsager was appointed to the FCA board by President Barack Obama on March 13, 2015, and designated by President Obama as chairman and CEO on November 22, 2016. He previously served on the FCA board from 2004 to 2009. Tonsager grew up on a dairy farm near Oldham, S.D., and later graduated from South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture. Apart from serving on the FCA board, Tonsager’s public service included serving as the USDA’s undersecretary for rural development, a director of the Commodity Credit Corporation and USDA’s state director for rural development in South Dakota.

By virtue of being the longest serving director, Jeffrey Hall has been designated as the FCA’s acting CEO. Hall’s term on the FCA board expired last October, and he will serve on the board only until his successor is confirmed by the Senate. President Trump has nominated former California banker Rod Brown to succeed Hall, but the Senate has yet to act on that nomination. Tonsager’s passing creates another opening on the three-member board; it is too soon to tell when the president will nominate Tonsager’s successor. The third FCA board member is Glen Smith, who was appointed to the board in December 2017.

Particularly notable during Tonsager’s time as chairman were the multiple occasions when he urged the FCS to study its present structure of banks and associations and to offer suggestions as to how the FCS should be restructured. So far, no proposed changes in the structure of the FCS have been offered, by FCS institutions themselves or by others.

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Bert Ely

Bert Ely is a consultant specializing in banking issues. He writes ABA's monthly Farm Credit Watch email bulletin.