WASHINGTON - Bank trade groups last week blasted a plan to remove geographical restrictions on Farm Credit System lenders, saying the proposal threatens locally based lenders and should be the subject of congressional hearings.

In letters to the Farm Credit Administration, the American Bankers Association and the Independent Community Bankers of America accused the agency of trying to sidestep the public comment process and warned that its plan could create unfair competition and destabilize the very system it is supposed to protect.

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