Author Bert Ely

Bert Ely

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

ABA Banking Journal

In the latest Farm Credit Watch, Bert Ely highlights the notable lack of transparency around Farm Credit Administration board meetings. While government agencies are required to be open and accessible to the public except under certain circumstances, Ely raised concerns that FCA has been requiring attendees to its public virtual meetings to pre-register, which he said “represents a deliberate attempt by the regulatory body to discourage the monitoring of its actions.”

Ag Banking

The FCS, America’s least known government-sponsored-enterprise, has an excessively complex and increasingly obsolete organizational structure. … Simplifying the structure of the FCS would improve its operating efficiency, which presumably would benefit its member/borrowers, while strengthening the FCA’s safety-and-soundness regulation of the FCS.

Ag Banking

As bankers know all too well, farmers and ranchers are suffering from a sustained period of low commodity prices, rising input costs, heavy rains and flooding, and more recently, trade issues that are harming agricultural exports. Not surprising, those factors have hurt farm income, which peaked in 2013. As in past cycles, sustained declines in farm income lead to increased cash-flow problems for farmers and ranchers, which in turn lead to rising credit-quality problems for ag lenders. Even though the FCS focuses on lending to financially stronger farmers, a key question is how well the FCS is acknowledging growing credit-quality problems in its loan portfolio and/or shedding weaker credits by calling loans and not renewing lines of credit.

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