Farm Credit participated in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry’s full committee hearing titled, “The Farm Credit System: Oversight and Outlook of the Current Economic Climate” on May 19.
“It’s vital that we stay in front of our legislators to make sure they know we remain true to our mission, which hasn’t changed since being established a century ago,” says Tom Truitt, CEO of MidAtlantic Farm Credit. “I’m proud of our System for making sure the voices of our customers are heard in Washington.”
Farm Credit Services of America CEO Doug Stark testified about the importance of Farm Credit’s broad mission to serve rural communities and agriculture and how Farm Credit is working with customers during the current downturn in the agricultural economy. The Committee also heard from Michigan farmer and U.S. Army veteran Jed Welder, Farm Credit Administration board members Kenneth Spearman, Dallas Tonsager and Jeffery Hall, along with representatives of the commercial banking industry.
In addition to those who testified in-person, nearly 80 groups representing farmers, ranchers, farmer-owned cooperatives and other agribusinesses, rural infrastructure providers, and rural communities submitted statements for consideration by the committee.
“Farm Credit exists to serve agricultural and rural communities in good times and bad. Unfortunately, there are challenging economic indicators ahead,” said Stark. “It’s times like these that highlight the importance of Farm Credit—to remain that financial partner to producers and rural communities when the times get tough. We’ve been in our rural communities preparing our borrowers to weather the storm, and we’ll be here to see them through to the other side.”
Similar to the producers Farm Credit serves, the System has built financial strength in anticipation of the economic cycle through diversification in loan geography, industry, and size.
“Farm Credit’s mission is to support rural communities and agriculture, irrespective of the economic climate,” said Stark. “We saw this downturn in commodity prices coming and have been building financial strength to make sure we can continue to fulfill our mission and support our customers.”
Low commodity prices coupled with high input costs are putting pressure on farmers and ranchers. Farm Credit has been working to make sure its customers have accurate information about the situation and are able to make good business decisions.
“Farm Credit’s philosophy on credit today is this: we know our customers well, understand and respond to their needs and work cooperatively with them to analyze and structure our transactions to give them the best chance to succeed,” said Stark.
Michigan farmer and U.S. Army veteran Jed Welder also weighed in on the current economic conditions in agriculture and the value of Farm Credit. “This is a challenging time for farmers like me across the country. Right now, we are planting corn and soybeans with prices very near breakeven,” said Welder. “Having a lender that works with me, that knows my farm and the challenges I face, is more important than ever.”
Farm Credit is well known for its mission providing financing to a variety of farmers and ranchers. In addition, Farm Credit’s agricultural mission includes financing aquatic producers, many farmer-owned cooperatives and other agribusinesses, and U.S. agricultural exports. A constant supply of credit to these areas has helped make agriculture one of the driving engines for the U.S. economy and allows U.S. agricultural producers to feed the world.