FDR’s Alphabet Soup: Records from the Great Depression

Cath Madden Trindle

FCA

(Farm Credit Administration)  1933

NARA RG103

fca

Paul Erickson, owner of forty acres of land in Yuba County, California. He is working on his tractor. He has diversified fruit farm with a federal land bank loan and production credit loan. He does as much of his own pruning, thinning and picking as possible and works out in order to supplement his income. He has paid income tax in past years but blames low prices of farm products for his decreased income

The Farm Credit Administration was created in 1933 to make long-term and short-term credit available to farmers and to farmers’ cooperative marketing and purchasing organizations. It assumed duties of Federal Farm Board which had been established in 1929

The origins of the FCA date to 1916, when the Federal Farm Loan Bureau, the Federal Farm Loan Board, and Federal Land Banks were established to meet the needs of farmers in for liberal credit and low interest rates. Congress and Presidents Taft and Wilson took up the cause of farmers, farm editors and bankers who sought a system that would facilitate the expansion of credit to the farmers that needid it most. A series of commissions were sent to study cooperatives that had been set up in France and Germany. The proposals of the commissions resulted in the passage of the Hollis-Bulkley Bill (Federal Farm Loan Act) of 17 Jul 1916. Twelve regional farm land banks were set up, and a system for extending credit established. Most of the original capital was supplied by the government. The intention was that the borrowing farmers would ultimately own the banks.

In 1923 the system was extended with 12 intermediate credit banks set up with government money, one in each region.

Just six years later the Depression hit hard. With prices of farm products falling and the value of farms declining delinquencies increased. In 1932 the government invested $125 million to bolster the land banks through bonds, again bcoming the majority stockholder. All of the existing federal agricultural-credit organizations were unified into one agency, the Federal Credit Administration, by executive order in 1933. Congress subsequentally authorized the FCA to extend the system of farm-mortgage credit. Funds were made available for loans on easy terms for first or second mortgages to debtors whose collateral was so low in value or so encumbered by debt as to make refinancing by the land banks unfeasible. The FCA was also authorized to establish 12 production credit corporations and banks for cooperatives. The result was a centralized source of farm credit.

In 1939 the FCA was absorbed into the Dept. of Agriculture. In 1953 the FCA once again became an independent agency. Its authority was later realigned by the Farm Credit Act of 1971.

If your ancestors owned a farm in the early 20th century or during the Depression there is a chance that they had a mortgage with the Federal Land Banks or thorugh the Farm Credit Administration. Even if you can not find individual records for them, understanding the economics of the times can add a sense of reality to your genealogical records.

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About Catht

Cath Madden Trindle - CSGA Special Projects Chair
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