A western Iowa businessman and farmer has been nominated to serve on the three-member federal board that oversees the Farm Credit Administration. Glen Smith of Atlantic testified before the U.S. Senate Ag Committee Thursday.
“I’m truly humbled by the honor of this nomination, but also quite sobered by the huge responsibility, if confirmed, of having a role of ensuring that American agriculture continues to have a source for reliable, secure credit,” Smith said, “which happens to the be mission of Farm Credit.”
Smith founded Smith Land Service Company in 1982. The firm manages farms and is a farm brokerage. He and his family also raise corn and soybeans on about 2000 acres.
“As an active farmer, ag businessman and even dating back to my ag finance days at Iowa State University, I’ve understood the important role of the Farm Credit Administration in setting policy, examining and regulating our nation’s largest long-term agricultural lender, the Farm Credit System,” Smith said.
“…The health of American agriculture is critically dependent upon a healthy, viable Farm Credit System. Credit is truly the lifeblood of agriculture.”
Smith told senators he has a “keen sense” of “boom and bust” cycles since he lived through the soaring ag economy of the 1970s, followed by the Farm Crisis of the 1980s.
“We can’t afford to lose a generation of agriculturalists like we did in the ’80s,” Smith said. “…I’ve always considered myself to be an optimist. As a farmer you take on the weather, you take on pests, you take on the markets and you have to be an optimist to survive. However, I do have to confess that I am very concerned about the current agricultural outlook.”
Smith said the Farm Credit System can play a key role in supporting young farmers who are most vulnerable to financial fluctuations.
“Land is typically the dominant asset on a farmer’s balance sheet,” Smith said. “In the Midwest alone, we’ve seen a 15-20 percent erosion in land values over the last several years…I believe we’re a long ways away from crisis management as experienced in the ’80s, however, out of love for this wonderful industry, I would be a strong advocate for caution in the Farm Credit System.”
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, as expected, Smith will move to Washington because the position is a full-time job. The Farm Credit System currently is managing more than a quarter of a trillion dollars in loans. Fewer than one percent of those loans are 90 days past due or in default.