WASHINGTON - The Farm Credit Administration's controversial plan to grant national charters to Farm Credit System lenders beginning Jan. 1 is likely to be delayed until it can be reviewed by Congress.

In a report released Tuesday, the General Accounting Office concluded that the plan - which would allow lenders to make loans outside their designated territories - is subject to a formal review under two federal procedural oversight laws. House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach, a vocal critic of the national charter initiative, immediately called on Farm Credit Chairman Michael M. Reyna to suspend all action on pending applications.

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