ICBA urged a House Small Business subcommittee to adopt solutions that involve community banks to help diversify rural America and encourage greater value- added agricultural investments. "Rural bankers are keenly aware that the future of their own locally owned institutions are directly tied to the future of their rural communities. With thousands of small banks in rural areas there is already a vast network available to bring together people and leverage resources to attract new business opportunities to rural America," stated Terry Jorde, former chairman of ICBA's Agriculture-Rural America Committee.
Jorde, president and CEO of CountryBank USA, Cando, N.D., urged Congress to adopt a number of tax incentives and new program enhancements aimed at stimulating rural economies. Commenting on tax proposals to provide technical assistance and incentives for farmers to invest in value-added agricultural businesses, Jorde said that such proposals have "great merit" and "Congress should consider combinations of tax credits, grants and loan guarantees in ways that can ensure participation by community banks."
ICBA recommended Congress pass legislation prohibiting USDA and SBA from raising loan fees without prior congressional approval; that a new pilot program for rural areas be established that would eliminate USDA and SBA fees on small business loans in rural areas and that Congress increase funding for USDA's B&I and SBA guaranteed loan programs.
ICBA urges Congress to adopt four key principals to drive rural development and value-added agricultural policies: 1) target resources to rural communities defined as "rural" based on population; 2) provide tools to complement-not compete with-the private sector; 3) target resources to various sizes of businesses, including individuals; and 4) maintain the population base and infrastructure of rural communities.