WASHINGTON - The Farm Credit Administration board gave the go-ahead Wednesday to a rule proposal relaxing eligibility standards for Farm Credit System loans.

The rule, if it enables farm credit banks and associations to increase their lending significantly, could strengthen their competitive position in relation to rural banks.

But for the moment, no one outside the Farm Credit Administration knows exactly which restrictions are to be relaxed. The near-100-page text of the proposed rule has not been released, and it won't be for at least a week.

In a statement issued Thursday afternoon, Farm Credit Administration board Chairman Marsha Pyle Martin said the new rule's objective "is to provide system institutions the business flexibility to meet the statutory objective of being responsive to the credit need of all types of agricultural producers having a basis for credit."

She added: "We were careful to assure that the proposed regulations would not allow lending authorities not authorized by the act," a reference to the Farm Credit Act of 1971.

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