Undersecretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Mark Keenum appeared before the Senate Agriculture Committee Wednesday seeking confirmation as the President's nominee to the Farm Credit Administration's board of directors. He talked to the committee about the current financial crisis affecting lending institutions.
"Right now the farm credit system is very healthy," Keenum said. "Farmers are making money and paying their loans"
However, Keenum cautioned that farm lenders need to stay on top of the situation and make wise loans to prevent seeing the same situation in farm credit that has been seen in other parts of the economy. He also talked about how the general economy can quickly spill over into the farm economy because 80% of family farms depend on outside income.
"If someone in the family loses a job because of the downturn in our national economy, that can severely affect their ability to pay off their farm debts, so it is all inter-connected," Keenum said.
Ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., urged his colleagues to approve Keenum for the seat on the FCA board that would expire in May 2014.
"The Farm Credit Administration plays an important role in ensuring the delivery of safe, sound, and dependable credit and related services to rural America," said Chambliss. "The credit crisis affecting many financial institutions and national and international markets may challenge the Farm Credit Administration; however I believe the agency is up to any challenge the markets may throw its way today or in the future. Dr. Keenum has dedicated his life to agriculture and I am confident he will continue to focus the agency and the Farm Credit System on fulfilling its mission in a safe and sound manner.