Feeling the pinch from weakening rural economies, the Farm Credit System reported that its net income declined 27% during the fourth quarter and its bad loans were up 69% for the year.

James A. Brickley, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Farm Credit Banks Funding Corp., blamed Farm Credit's weaker financial results on "continued stress within the softening agricultural economy." Farm communities were hurt in 1998 by low commodity prices, reduced export demand, and weather disasters, he said.

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