Our Position

Rural America and Farm Bill Programs

Position

  • The 2023 Farm Bill should continue to provide essential assistance to the farm sector and to rural America. Robust price support programs provide a financial safety net for many producers during times of low commodity prices.
  • The new Farm Bill should maintain a strong crop insurance program, a successful public-private partnership critical to the ability of farmers and ranchers to survive weather-related disasters and repay farm loans.
  • USDA farm loan guarantee programs benefit family farmers and ranchers and allow community banks to better manage the lending risks of producers who would otherwise be unable to obtain commercial credit. These programs should remain primarily financially geared to establishing successful farm and ranch operations. Program fee levels should not discourage participation by community bank borrowers and should not be set at levels that overfund government collections.
  • Farmer Mac should continue to focus on its primary mission of improving secondary market access for community banks. ICBA opposes allowing the Farm Credit System to operate their own secondary market independent from or in competition with Farmer Mac.
  • Climate risk policies should not increase regulatory or economic burdens, particularly for small businesses, agricultural producers, or the community banks that serve them.

Background

The USDA reports net farm income should increase by almost $20 billion from 2021 to $160.5 billion in 2022. Rural America and farm and ranch families have benefitted from low interest rates, ample energy supplies, and a de-regulatory environment. These positive factors have changed quickly, threatening the outlook for American agriculture. Congress should adjust farm programs to allow producers to manage a changed economic environment.

Congress is expected to draft and possibly finalize a new Farm Bill in 2023. The new Farm Bill should build upon the success of the 2018 Farm Bill, which expires September 30, 2023. The next Farm Bill should continue to strongly support Farm Bill provisions which are intended, in part, to provide lenders and customers a long-term policy framework for business and planning purposes and bolster the farm economy.

The Federal Crop Insurance Program (FCIP) plays a prominent role in helping producers manage financial risk, cope with weather related disasters and repay bank loans. In 2022, more than 490 million acres of farmland (90% of insurable farmland) were protected. ICBA opposes reducing spending on crop insurance.

USDA's guaranteed loan programs allow community banks to lend to higher-risk borrowers by guaranteeing 90 percent of loan repayment. Congress should increase loan limits to at least $1.75 million to allow banks to work with more family farmers. Funding set-asides should not interfere with expanding the program’s borrower base.

The 2018 Farm Bill increased population limits for rural development loans and requires most programs to be self-funding. These program changes should be evaluated.

Farmer Mac. Farmer Mac, the secondary market program for ag real estate loans, should continue to focus on improving secondary market access for community banks.

Climate Risk. Policies should not increase regulatory or economic burdens on the agricultural or community banking sectors, should be voluntary, based on scientifically sound data, and offer incentives to establish healthy soil and water resources.

Staff Contact

Mark K. Scanlan

SVP, Agriculture and Rural Policy

ICBA

[email protected]

Agriculture News

ICBA Strongly Supports Bipartisan ACRE Act Offering Tax Relief for Rural Lending

May 10, 2023

ICBA Press Release Banner 2020

Washington, D.C. (May 10, 2023) — The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) today expressed its strong support for the House introduction of the Access to Credit for our Rural Economy (ACRE) Act (H.R. 3139) to support farmers, ranchers, and rural homeowners.

Authored in a bipartisan fashion by Reps. Randy Feenstra (R-Iowa) and Wiley Nickel (D-N.C.), the bill would exempt from taxation interest income on farm real estate and rural mortgage loans, allowing community banks to lower loan rates and more efficiently serve these borrowers.

“With community banks making 80 percent of banking industry agricultural loans, ICBA strongly supports the ACRE Act to help community banks offer lower rates to certain rural borrowers and homeowners," ICBA President and CEO Rebeca Romero Rainey said. "This important legislation will help revive and sustain rural economies struggling to overcome the impact of higher interest rates while providing community bank lenders with benefits they can pass on to customers, similar to other rural credit providers. ICBA and the nation’s community banks thank Reps. Nickel and Feenstra for coming together to provide a common-sense solution that benefits rural Americans, especially young, beginning, and small farmers and ranchers.”

With rural America and the agricultural sector facing continued challenges, the ACRE Act would:

  • Give lenders a strong incentive to remain in the rural farming and housing markets, thereby boosting local economic activity.

  • Offer community banks greater flexibility to work with farmers who may have trouble servicing their debt.

  • Exempt from taxation loans secured by agricultural and aquaculture real estate.

  • Provide similar relief to interest on loans secured by rural single-family homes that are the borrower's principal residence in towns with populations under 2,500 and below the value of $750,000.

  • Assist those seeking to remain on the farm or acquire a home loan in rural communities by providing borrowers with more competitive rates and loan terms.

ICBA looks forward to advocating for the ACRE Act’s passage on behalf of rural community bankers and the customers and communities they serve.

About ICBA

The Independent Community Bankers of America® creates and promotes an environment where community banks flourish. ICBA is dedicated exclusively to representing the interests of the community banking industry and its membership through effective advocacy, best-in-class education, and high-quality products and services.

With nearly 50,000 locations nationwide, community banks employ nearly 700,000 Americans and are the only physical banking presence in one in three U.S. counties. Holding $5.8 trillion in assets, $4.8 trillion in deposits, and $3.8 trillion in loans to consumers, small businesses and the agricultural community, community banks channel local deposits into the Main Streets and neighborhoods they serve, spurring job creation, fostering innovation and fueling their customers' dreams in communities throughout America. For more information, visit ICBA's website at www.icba.org.

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