Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Congressional Visits

On June 17th Yankee visited Congressional offices in Washington, DC. Participating were: Chairperson Paul Gingue, Vice Chairperson Rocky Giroux, Bob Smith and me. Bob Smith is a senior vice president of Farm Credit East who assists several associations with government relations.

We visited people in eight Congressional offices:

  • Sen. Patrick Leahy and Adrienne Wojciechowski
  • Rep. Bill Owens and Nell Maceda
  • Kathryn Tanner in Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's office
  • Thomas Maloney in Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's office
  • Lauren Tribble in Sen. Bernie Sanders' office
  • Andrew Lattanner in Rep. Scott Murphy's office
  • Sarah Levin in Rep. Paul Hodes' office
  • Jake Oster in Rep. Peter Welch's office
Our main message again this year was that we are meeting the needs of our customers and doing business as usual, notwithstanding the continuing downturn affecting many of our customers, especially in the dairy and timber industries. We are lending money; our financial results are good; we continue to pay patronage refunds; and the Farm Credit System has not needed any government assistance. This message was well received.

Both the House and Senate have passed legislation for financial services regulatory reform, and a conference committee is currently negotiating the differences between the two bills. For the most part the Farm Credit System is not affected by this reform. However, we voiced our concern that one provision in the Senate version, the so-called Volcker Rule, could potentially have an adverse effect on the cost of Farm Credit System debt as compared to other GSEs.

Other issues that we mentioned were estate taxes, farm labor and issues relating to how we can work better with the Farm Service Agency. We provided each office with a copy of the Northeast Dairy Farm Summary published last month.

We happened to be in Washington for the 28th Annual Capitol Hill Ice Cream Party, sponsored by the International Dairy Foods Association. It was very popular!

UPDATE 6/25/10: Added the photo with Senator Leahy. Senator Leahy was one of the 12 senators on the conference committee mentioned above regarding financial services regulatory reform. That conference committee has been meeting over the past several days, and it concluded its work with a marathon 20-hour session ending around 5:30 AM today. New York Times article here. We are pleased that the bill approved by the conference committee satisfactorily addressed our concerns with the Volcker Rule. This morning's agreement by the conference committee means that the final bill will go back to the House and Senate next week for an up-or-down vote. President Obama is expected to sign the bill if it passes the House and Senate.