Tillis supports access to credit for farmers and ranchers

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., speaks to federal judicial nominees during a Senate Judiciary Hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, July 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) recently pressedthe National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to continue supporting agriculture producers’ access to credit. In a letter to NCUA Chairman Todd Harper, Tillis and his colleagues questioned language included in the NCUA’s Draft Strategic Plan that could lead to regulatory discrimination against credit unions that lend to farmers, ranchers, and agricultural businesses in the name of addressing “climate-related financial risks.” 

The NCUA strategic plan, released last month, lays out the agency’s proposed goals and objectives for the next five years. 

“Credit unions need to consider climate-related financial risks and how they could affect their membership and institutional performance,” the document reads. “Efforts to combat climate change will likely give rise to new regulations, potentially increasing costs for credit unions as they adapt and respond.” 

Farmers rely on access to credit to produce food and support the U.S. and global economy. In North Dakota, for example, the state’s 34 credit unions hold nearly $1 billion in agricultural loans. 

Farmers are part of the answer to climate change and should be treated as such, said Jeff Olson, president and CEO of Dakota Credit Union Association. 

“North Dakota’s farmers are the answer to climate change, not a problem to be overcome,” he said in a statement. “Our farmers and ranchers are the original conservationists and implement practices every day that enhance climate resiliency; this is something that our federal regulatory agency does not fully understand or simply refuses to acknowledge.” 

Members of Congress urged Harper to remove this language from the strategic plan and not impose burdensome new regulations on credit unions that are supporting farmers, ranchers, agri-businesses and rural communities.  

“American farmers, ranchers and producers across the country work tirelessly to grow the highest quality, lowest cost food supply in the world,” the members of Congress wrote. “We are concerned that recent actions and statements by the NCUA could lead to the establishment of a regulatory environment that threatens the ability of farmers, ranchers, agri-businesses and rural communities to access credit… Placing increased regulations on those that serve the agricultural industry will threaten to restrict access to credit in rural communities, which could have serious consequences for an industry that is already facing high inflation and increased input costs.” 

The signatories represent agriculture-producing states and include Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) John Thune (R-N.D.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), and John Inhofe (R-Okl.) and Representatives Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.).