Looking for an opportunity to help rebuild the local and regional food system? The Farm Credit Administration (FCA) -- the federally chartered agency that oversees the nationwide network of banks that make up the Farm Credit System (FCS) -- is asking the public to comment on a proposed rule that, if adopted, would direct FCS banks to be more responsive to the credit needs of small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers producing for local and regional food markets.
FCS supplies nearly 40% of all U.S. farm financing and has the capacity to bring badly needed capital to local food producers, and to leverage other sources of capital for the task of rebuilding our local and regional food system infrastructure.
In fact, FCS, is legally bound to provide a dependable source of credit and credit services to all creditworthy farm borrowers but most FCS borrowers are conventional commodity market operations and on average larger than most family farms.
This is an important opportunity to help shape future FCS services to small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers producing for the local and regional market.
Thank you for this opportunity to provide comment on ways the FCS can better serve small and midsized, local and regional food producers. We support your efforts to diversify the FCS loan portfolio and would ask that in defining what needs to be included in FCS marketing plans that you include:
1. A requirement that FCS institutions create a baseline analysis of producers who meet the farm bill definition of local and regional food producers by number of borrowers, by loan volume, and other key characteristics.
2. A minimum investment goal for local and regional food producers of 10% of the institution’s capital within 5 years.
3. A plan for conducting outreach to local and regional food producers and a commitment to adding local and regional food producers to the FCS board.
4. A requirement that the marketing plan and periodic progress reports be made public.
5. A plan for providing staff development training to FCS personnel across the full spectrum of lending, accounting, farm transfer and business planning services appropriate for serving local and regional food producers.
6. A plan for developing lending and business support products with terms and benefits appropriate for local and regional food producers.
7. An inventory of strengths and weaknesses of the local and regional food infrastructure within the bank’s territory and a plan for leveraging the public and private capital necessary to address those weaknesses.
Submit comments and letters to: