Farm Credit Services of America, Omaha, Neb., has agreed to be acquired by a $500 billion Dutch lending cooperative and to terminate its association with the Farm Credit System, a government-sponsored enterprise that provides lending services to its farmer and rancher shareholders.Rabobank is offering $600 million for FCSA, which serves 51,000 shareholders in Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and South Dakota, so that it can expand its agricultural lending business in the United States. "Our customers want a lender with deep agricultural expertise, but they also want someone who can move with them into new territories and deliver innovative, competitive products to support their growth," FCSA chief executive Jack Webster said. FCSA's regulator, the Farm Credit Administration, must approve the acquisition, and some expect that the transaction will come under congressional scrutiny. The Independent Community Bankers of America complained that the Farm Credit System has benefited from GSE status and tax breaks and that FCSA managers and members stand to make "huge profits" from the Rabobank deal. "To those who want modernization and even more competition in rural farm markets, not stopping the Rabobank purchase is one approach; allowing community banks real access to the [Farm Credit System] funding window would also accomplish this goal," ICBA president Camden Fine said.

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