THE FARM CREDIT Council, the trade group for the nation's Farm Credit System, has become the latest organization to endorse the House-Senate farm bill conference report and urge the Senate to pass it quickly.

“As you know, Farm Credit's mission is to maintain and improve the quality of life in rural America and on the farm,” Kenneth Auer, the FCC's president and CEO, said in a letter to Sen. Tom Harkin, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“This legislation will help Farm Credit continue our mission. We especially want to commend you for your leadership in building a strong rural development component of the bill. Specifically, the Rural Business Investment Company program, we believe, will spur needed equity investment in rural businesses, particularly value-added agricultural businesses.

“For too long, our rural communities have suffered from a shortage of equity capital,” said Auer. “The RBIC program will help alleviate some of this shortage.”

Auer also noted the soundness of the credit title in the conference report on the farm bill, saying, “The changes made will help Farm Credit maintain its commitment to provide reliable and competitive credit to agricultural producers, rural businesses and rural communities.”

He said the FCS also applauds the leadership provided by Reps. Larry Combest, chairman of the conference committee, and Charlie Stenholm, ranking member on the House Agriculture Committee, during the farm bill process.

The House passed the conference report, 280-141, on May 2. The Senate was scheduled to vote on the report on May 8.