The Illinois Local Food Farms Jobs Council is developing plans for a comprehensive financial infrastructure to grow local food economies. The Council—a community-led coordinating body authorized by state law—finds that solving the food-system-funding challenge may mean reinventing the century-old Farm Credit System (FCS).
FCS is a nationwide network of 85 customer-owned cooperatives. Created by Congress to serve all of agriculture, FCS is America’s largest agricultural lender, booking nearly $192 billion in loans and earning more than $4 billion in profits in 2012.
Its lenders take pride in being able to close loans in a matter of minutes for relatively low risk borrowers who are beneficiaries of federal subsidy programs. No wonder Farm Credit affiliates are well-known within agribusiness circles and an enigma in the local food marketplace. Read more