June 22, 2024 11:23 pm
Close this search box.

National News

Report calls for more accountability, sustainability in Farm Credit System


by Shanteya Hudson

A new report calls for greater accountability in the system that provides funding to farmers in underserved communities. The research takes a dive into the Farm Credit System, examining the risks and suggesting improvements to make the system more fair and sustainable.

Report lead author Dr. Joshua Humphreys is a farmer and president of the Croatan Institute. He asserted that, despite the Farm Credit System making around 45% of all agricultural loans, there is no transparency in how much of the funding goes to small, midsized or socially disadvantaged farmers.

“Minority home buyers were deeply underserved,” Humphreys pointed out, “yet no data demographically related to race, ethnicity or gender along the lines of other equal lending opportunity sectors are provided.”

According to the report, most Farm Credit System loans go to very large operations, and fewer than 20% to small or beginning farmers. Humphreys said the findings can be an opportunity for the system to address the disparities.

The report also examines the system’s lack of climate-related reporting, and suggests ways to make sustainability a bigger priority in lending. For the last several decades, farmers have dealt with increased risks — from rising temperatures and more frequent severe storms to wildfires.

Report contributor David Beck, director of policy at Self-Help Credit Union, said as agriculture’s Government-Sponsored Enterprise, more can be done to help farmers to transition to more eco-friendly practices.

“For instance, helping small farmers or even larger farmers switch to more regenerative ag practices that can require a lot of upfront cost,” Beck explained. “So, maybe helping subsidize that switch to more sustainable ag systems.”

The research touches on governance issues as well, such as board members serving expired terms. Humphreys added these challenges must be addressed, as taxpayers ultimately would bail the system out in the event of a crisis.

“Agriculture is not immune from a wide array of environmental, social and governance risks and opportunities,” he insisted. “I think that’s the key takeaway, is that we really want to encourage the Farm Credit System to end its laggard position among Government-Sponsored Enterprises.”

The report recommends conducting more climate research, implementing Green and Impact Bonds, and establishing a grant set-aside program through a congressional mandate.

This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Georgia Supreme Court justices appear skeptical of Athens DA’s claim of open records exemption

In an upcoming ruling, Georgia’s Supreme Court will weigh in on a claim brought by Athens-Clarke District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez, arguing that top prosecutors are exempt from the state’s open records laws. The case involves assertions that the trial court overlooked a constitutional provision in denying Gonzalez’s motion to dismiss an open records complaint, mirroring similar immunity arguments made by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in a separate case related to the 2020 presidential election interference.

Georgia public colleges to expand admissions testing requirements for fall 2026

Georgia colleges are reverting to requiring standardized test scores for all new applicants, signaling a shift from pandemic-era policies. Beginning in fall 2026, institutions including Augusta University, The University of Georgia, and Georgia Tech will mandate SAT or ACT scores, a decision unanimously approved by the Georgia Board of Regents.

Water-hogging data centers flagged in latest ‘Dirty Dozen’ environmental watchdog report

In its annual report released on Thursday, the Georgia Water Coalition spotlighted the detrimental effects of record economic growth on the state’s waterways, particularly in the coastal region, where a surge in state-of-the-art data centers poses a significant threat to Georgia’s rivers. The report urges urgent action from public officials and residents to advocate for policies that safeguard natural resources crucial for clean drinking water and outdoor recreation, emphasizing the need for coordinated water planning to address mounting environmental pressures.