ABA Banking Journal - October 2012 - (Page 56)

ABA community banking AG BANKING ag banking continues from page 18 100 Years of Service to the Nation’s Farmers ABA’s banker agricultural committee marks anniversary s 2013 approaches, most Americans don’t have to worry about decent roads. Education for the youngest and even the oldest remains plentiful, and as close as the web. We take all this for granted. In 1913, especially in farm country, none of this could be assumed, or even expected. Roads often were awful. Modern methods of tilling and soil and water conservation represented new and sometimes controversial techniques. Even a basic such as decent seed was novel. Schooling could be woefully inadequate. And the image of the banker in farm country could be more “Mr. A Potter” than “George Bailey.” Galvanized by rumblings out of Washington seen as a threat to the business (some things don’t change) bankers began banding together to fight creation of a European-style cooperative ag-lending entity. ABA member bankers created in 1913 what was first called the ABA Agricultural Commission, and today is the Agricultural and Rural Bankers Committee. B.F. Harris, vice-president and later president of First National Bank, Champaign, Ill., became the group’s first chairman. “B.F. had smelled a rat,” says John Blanchfield, longtime staff head for the committee. “That rat LEFT: “The New Idea Of The Banker” aimed to show bankers that they needed to show farmers how much they wanted to work with them. The cartoon series above culminated with the framed reminder, “Take interest IN the farmer as well as FROM him.” RIGHT: Banker-Farmer talked up the nation’s ideal farmer. was revealed in 1916, when Woodrow Wilson signed the Farm Credit Act into law.” Under Harris, the commission became the forefront of a movement for the improvement of agricultural life and of relations among farmer, government, and banker. The ABA group launched its own monthly magazine, The BankerFarmer. It came to be the herald of a renewed effort to push for measures to be taken nationally, at the state level, and in every farm and bank, to improve things. Harris served not only as chairman but as the magazine’s first volunteer editor. An early issue’s editorial speaks of: “… the necessity and the splendid opportunity for ‘getting next’ to and ‘showing’ the man on the soil that we want to work with and believe in him.” Harris and the committee pushed for local experts to help farmers improve their methods—what now is the county agent, a fixture of rural America, but then a new concept. One of the commission’s first tasks on Capitol Hill was testifying in favor of the Smith-Leaver Act, which established the Cooperative Extension Service. Also new: The notion that bankers should get out from behind the desk to visit farms. How-to articles became a staple of Banker-Farmer, and an early one told of a banker who overcame farmer attitudes about “bankers snooping”: “Getting a gun and a bird dog, I began hunting information from 56 | ABA BANKING JOURNAL | october 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ABA Banking Journal - October 2012

ABA Banking Journal - October 2012
Contents
Chairman’s View
Editor’s Column
The Economy
Bank Notes
Picture This
Ag bank rebrands—literally
Pass the Aspirin
Tech Topics
Ready for the leadership ride
Community Bank Survival: Matter of attitude?
Card biz: Playing the hand you’re dealt
ABA At Your Service
100 years of service to farmers
Compliance Inbox
Legal Issues
First Person

ABA Banking Journal - October 2012

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