WASHINGTON The Farm Credit Administration on Thursday issued a national charter proposal that observers say is very similar to its controversial plan from last year.
Under the proposal, any of the 158 Farm Credit lenders that received such charters could make loans nationwide instead of being bound by geographic regions as they are now. The plan will be submitted to Congress for a 30-day review and then published in the Federal Register.
Though the agency refused to release a copy of the proposal, banking industry officials said they knew enough to blast it.
The national chartering scheme is fundamentally flawed because it is going to spur consolidation of farm credit system lenders and it will spur predatory pricing as some of these lenders try to get into new markets, said Mark Scanlan, director of agricultural finance for the Independent Community Bankers of America.
The trade groups executive vice president, Kenneth A. Guenther, urged new House Financial Services Committee Chairman Michael G. Oxley in a letter Tuesday to stop the agency from issuing the proposal. A spokeswoman for Rep. Oxley said his staff is reviewing the issue.
The agency was originally expected to begin issuing national charters Jan. 1 under its earlier proposal, but withdrew its plan after lawmakers, the Treasury Department, and the General Accounting Office criticized the government-sponsored enterprise for not following formal rulemaking procedures.
An agency spokesman said that the latest proposal would require applicants to submit detailed business plans, and commit to continue serving their local areas.