FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ICBA: Community Banks Central to Agricultural Economy
ICBA Community Banking Month Recognized in April
Washington, D.C. (April 20, 2009)—As the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) recognizes April as ICBA Community Banking Month, our nation’s more than 8,000 community banks continue to have a vital positive impact on the agricultural and rural economy in cities and towns throughout America.
“Community banks are pivotal to the overall health of rural America as they are the largest provider of agricultural credit within the commercial banking sector, providing well over half of all commercial bank agricultural financing,” said R. Michael Menzies, ICBA chairman and president and CEO of Easton Bank and Trust Company, Easton, Md. “Even in this challenging economy, community bankers continue to serve and provide credit to their agricultural customers to ensure long-term economic viability and vitality.”
Community banks stimulate rural economies in a multitude of ways, including creating off-farm jobs, maintaining the local tax base, and facilitating development of the infrastructure and public services necessary to keep rural communities vibrant.
Community banks with under $1 billion in assets provide over 60 percent of the banking industry's agriculture-related loans, with those having under $500 million in assets providing over 50 percent of the loans. They are avid supporters of and participants in the USDA's guaranteed farm loan and rural development programs to help provide off-farm jobs and economic opportunities to farmers. Community banks often encourage their customers to have adequate risk management programs in place, including crop insurance, and are thoroughly familiar with their farm customers’ operating and credit needs. In January, ICBA announced a partnership with Farmer Mac to offer its member banks a special mix of loan products for their agricultural customers.
Each year, thousands of community banks serving urban, suburban and rural areas recognize ICBA Community Banking Month in a variety of ways. Whether they host special events with local charities, promote economic development initiatives or offer programs to boost financial literacy, community banks continue to enrich their communities and lives of the customers they serve.
For more information about ICBA and ICBA Community Banking Month, visit www.icba.org