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Supporting credit access for farmers and ranchers

Supporting credit access for farmers and ranchers

Congress is asking the National Credit Union Administration to change its future plans

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Members of Congress are asking a federal agency to change its language to better support the U.S. ag industry.

Republican Senators and House Representatives signed a Feb. 7 letter to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Chair Todd Harper about the 2022-2026 Strategic Draft Plan.

The signatories include Sens. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). And Representatives Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.)

The NCUA document lays out the agency’s proposed goals and objectives for the next five years.

The current plan includes a section on climate-related financial risks.

“Credit unions need to consider climate-related financial risks and how they could affect their membership and institutional performance,” the document reads. “Efforts to combat climate change will likely give rise to new regulations, potentially increasing costs for credit unions as they adapt and respond.”

Farmers rely on access to credit to produce food and support the U.S. economy.

Any language hinting at red tape for producers is counterproductive, the Congresspeople wrote.

“Placing increased regulations on those that serve the agricultural industry will threaten to restrict access to credit in rural communities, which could have serious consequences for an industry that is already facing high inflation and increased input costs,” the letter says.

In North Dakota, for example, the state’s 34 credit unions hold nearly $1 billion in agricultural loans.

Farmers are part of the answer to climate change and should be treated as such, said Jeff Olson, president and CEO of Dakota Credit Union Association.

“North Dakota’s farmers are the answer to climate change, not a problem to be overcome,” he said in a statement. “Our farmers and ranchers are the original conservationists and implement practices every day that enhance climate resiliency; this is something that our federal regulatory agency does not fully understand or simply refuses to acknowledge.”

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