While Farm Credit Services is acknowledging 2012 as International Year of the Cooperative, like other cooperatives, it considers every year to be something to celebrate.
Farm Credit Services of Illinois is a farmer-owned and farmer-directed cooperative that serves more than 8,200 farm families, rural landowners and agribusinesses with competitive flexible financing and crop insurance risk management expertise. Created by the U.S. Congress in 1916 to insure farmers and rural America have access to a dependable source of financial capital, Farm Credit is still committed to the mission today. Although the Farm Credit System is a Government Sponsored Enterprise (G.S.E.), Farm Credit Services is completely self-sustaining and operates without any financial support from the federal government.
In Illinois alone, the support and use of FCS shows phenomenal numbers. In 2011, FCS granted 18,800 loans for a total of $3.045 billion. Of that, $700 million went to operating and machinery loans while $2.344 billion was allocated for real estate loans. There are 19 office locations throughout the state to serve the needs of participating farmers.
While it’s easy for Farm Credit to take for granted how distinctly unique it is, David Owens, President and Chief Executive Officer for FCS in Illinois, says the Wall Street crowd, which typically works with corporations, might find it peculiar.
Corporate America, he says, often looks at the financial interests of “owners” and “customers” as being in conflict. In cooperatives, the owners and the customers are one in the same. Some investors are especially puzzled to learn that the boards of directors throughout Farm Credit are mostly comprised of farmers who are active Farm Credit borrowers. It is almost inconceivable to them, he says, that Farm Credit’s priority is to maximize the customer’s value – not maximize profit.
He succinctly explained one of the largest benefits inherent in the cooperative model.
“Since co-ops are formed for a specific purpose, they are focused on the group of goods and services they provide. This focus leads to the “best in industry” specialization and specific expertise. No other business is as focused and no other business will possess the same level of operational knowledge and business intelligence for their industry as a cooperative,” Owens says.
To learn more about Farm Credit Services of Illinois, check out its website: www.fcsillinois.com
In celebrating the International Year of the Cooperative, we want to show our support for the cooperative model. Please join us each month as we continue to feature a different cooperative that you may recognize or might also be a member.