Future is Bright for Farm Credit and Local Food Movement

Farm Credit System institutions and the local food movement have a bright future together, Dr. Jill Long Thompson, Board Chair and CEO of the Farm Credit Administration, said last month.

“I believe that the Farm Credit System and members of the local food movement have an exciting future,” Dr. Long Thompson said. “Working together, you can help protect our nation’s food security, create job opportunities in rural America, and ensure that small and mid-sized producers have a bright future.”

Speaking before the National Good Food Network, Dr. Long Thompson commended Farm Credit East and MidAtlantic Farm Credit for their support for local food systems and their willingness to reach out to local food producers, and said that she hoped that her participation in the Network’s Food Hub Conference will lead to more collaboration between local food producers and the Farm Credit System.

“In 2012, we issued guidance to encourage System institutions to serve farmers and ranchers who market products through local and regional food systems,” she said. “We encouraged them to develop new loan products and to find alternative ways to measure the creditworthiness of loan applicants.”

“I am pleased to report that many institutions are reaching out to local food producers,” she said.

She praised the work of Farm Credit East, which collaborated with the Wallace Center and The Farm Credit Council to complete the National Good Food Network Food Hub Benchmarking Study. (The study can be found on The Farm Credit Council’s “The Agrophile” blog.)

Dr. Long Thompson also recognized the efforts of MidAtlantic Farm Credit, which created a new program called New Generation and Local Food Systems, and calls the loans offered through this program “farm-fresh financing.” MidAtlantic partnered with Temple University to conduct a study of local food systems, including food hubs, and is sharing its learnings with other Farm Credit System institutions.

“I commend Farm Credit East and MidAtlantic Farm Credit for their support of local food systems and their willingness to reach out to local food producers. I encourage more Farm Credit System institutions to follow their example,” she said.

In addition, Dr. Long Thompson said that FCA is currently reviewing its regulations governing eligibility for System financing to identify opportunities for financing local food businesses. In addition, she said, local food producers should be encouraged to take advantage of the training and development programs offered by Farm Credit System institutions nationwide as part of their efforts to serve young, beginning and small producers.

Source: The Farm Credit Council, “The Insider”

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