Republican Senator Chuck Grassley says he supports the FCS, but it has operated outside its charter. “They came to my office to talk to me and I brought up some of the loans that were very questionable loans,” Grassley says. “I got the feeling that they were very embarassed by the issues that I brought up with them.”
Former Iowa Ag Secretary Patty Judge is the Democrat who’s challenging Grassley this year. “There are probably reforms that need to be made and I would suggest to you that we are going to have a real opportunity to do that next year as we write the new Farm Bill,” Judge says.
Republican Congressman Steve King of Kiron says the FCS needs to refocus on helping farmers and agribusinesses stay afloat. “They write their own mission statement,” King says. “I asked the chair of the board that before an Ag Committee hearing some time back and, you know, my message to that was: ‘We may have to help you write that mission statement.'”
Kim Weaver, a social worker from Sheldon, is the Democrat who’s challenging King. Weaver says she’s troubled by the FCSs loan to Cracker Barrel. “Even though it has a rather rustic appeal, it isn’t exactly a farm-related business,” Weaver says. “I would look at actually having a little bit more monitoring of that because I really don’t think it’s fair.”
Jim Mowrer, a former National Guard soldier and Pentagon administrator, is Young’s Democratic opponent. “When you look at some of the recent activities, like the Verizon loan that they made, this is way outside of its intended scope of purpose,” Mowrer says.
Republican Congressman Rod Blum of Dubuque says there’s probably still a role for the FCS. “But we need to make sure that they’re not competing in the areas that they’re not supposed to be in,” Blum says. “…They’ve made some very big loans to some very large and profitable customers that whether they’re ag related is very, very questionable.”
Christopher Peters, an Iowa City doctor, is the Republican who’s running against Democratic Congressman David Loebsack of Iowa City. Peters says he has just started doing research on the FCS. “I will say just blanket, though, I’m suspicious of all government sponsored enterprises. I’m not sure why we need those at all,” Peters says. “If things can be delivered in a marketplace, they should be. If they are not able to be delivered in a marketplace, then government I think should provide those services if they can’t or won’t be provided otherwise.”
In May of this year, Iowa community banker and CBI Board Member Gus Barker, President of Community Bank of Oelwein testified before the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry on the Farm Credit System. The hearing was held to examine the overall climate of credit in rural America, the health of ag lending from both commercial banks and the FCS, and perspectives on the impact the current credit environment is having on the nation's farms. The hearing was also called to determine whether the Farm Credit Administration is exercising effective oversight on the FCS.
You can still view the hearing in its entirety on the Senate Committee website. The hearing is called to order at minute 17:10 in the video; testimony by Barker is in Part II of the hearing and begins at hour 01:49:30. You can also download transcripts of testimonies by all witnesses of the hearing; click here for Gus' testimony.