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The cooperative way

All of the banks and direct-lending associations of the Farm Credit System are cooperatives.

Each institution is owned and controlled by the farmers who borrow from it. They control the institution by setting policies and helping make decisions. This keeps the institution committed to serving rural credit needs.

The System’s cooperative business model sets it apart from most other commercial lenders.

A cooperative since 1916

Congress set up the Farm Credit System in 1916 as a cooperative because it wanted to ensure that the System could fulfill its public mission of providing long-term and affordable credit services to agriculture and rural America.

The seven cooperative principles

Cooperatives around the world, including the Farm Credit System, follow the seven basic principles below. The roots of these principles can be traced back to Rochdale, England, where the first modern cooperative was founded in 1844.

The System’s core cooperative principles

In 2005, the Farm Credit Administration conducted a study to identify and better understand the range of cooperative practices employed by System institutions. The study found that, like most other cooperative organizations, FCS institutions generally adhere to three core cooperative principles: user-ownership, user-control, and user-benefits. These principles are the underlying foundation for the System’s cooperative practices.

FCA’s commitment to the system’s cooperative structure

On October 14, 2010, the FCA board adopted a resolution and a policy statement reaffirming its support for, and commitment to, these core principles as part of the cooperative business model of the Farm Credit System.

Page updated: April 05, 2021