CoBank is part of the Farm Credit System, which Congress formed in 1916 to fill a need for long-term agricultural credit. Farm Credit is a national network of lending institutions that provides production agriculture with more than 30 percent of its credit and financial needs.
CoBank was created in 1989 through the merger of 11 Banks for Cooperatives. The bank began operations with $12 billion in assets, $9 billion in loans outstanding and $807 million in capital. On Jan. 1, 2012, CoBank merged with U.S. AgBank.
Here are some highlights of CoBank's history:
The first banks in the Farm Credit System are created by Congress to fill a need for long-term agricultural credit. Twelve Federal Land Banks are established and later Federal Land Bank Associations operate in small towns nationwide.
Congress creates 12 Federal Intermediate Credit Banks to provide short- and intermediate-term agricultural financing.
The Farm Credit Act of 1933 allows local Production Credit Associations to expand short- and intermediate-term agricultural credit availability. The act also creates 13 Banks for Cooperatives. While 12 BCs serve district territories, the 13th bank, called the Central Bank for Cooperatives, serves large accounts and those that cross district lines.
Federal Land Banks pay off the last of the government seed money provided to them in 1916.
The Central Bank for Cooperatives reorganizes as a bank of participation serving district BCs.
The BCs make their first utility loan to an electric distribution cooperative under farmer-owned cooperative eligibility rules.
The last of the government seed money used to capitalize the PCAs and BCs is repaid. All Farm Credit Banks are now completely owned by their borrowing stockholders.
The Farm Credit Act of 1971 broadens the scope of Farm Credit services to include rural home mortgages and leasing and BC financing of rural electric and telephone cooperatives.
The 1980 Farm Credit Act authorizes the Central Bank for Cooperatives to finance agricultural exports.
Noncooperative rural electric and telephone systems become eligible for BC financing.
The Farm Credit Act of 1987 gives the System greater flexibility to change its structure. Two results: long- and short-term loan services may be consolidated under one roof as Agricultural Credit Associations; and Farm Credit Banks and BCs may merge to form Agricultural Credit Banks. BCs begin financing subsidiaries of eligible borrowers and, on a limited basis, joint ventures and partnerships involving an eligible borrower.
Eleven of the 13 Banks for Cooperatives merge to form CoBank, which begins operations with $12 billion in assets, $9 billion in loans outstanding and $807 million in capital. The other two BCs, located in Springfield, Massachusetts, and St. Paul, Minnesota, continue operating as separate entities.
Through the 1990 Farm Bill, Congress authorizes the BCs to finance water and waste disposal systems serving rural areas and communities. Farm Credit associations are authorized to make marketing and processing loans.
The 1994 Farm Credit Agricultural Export and Risk Management Act expands CoBank's international banking authorities to serve agricultural cooperative customers involved in joint ventures and partnerships with noncooperatives in U.S. and international markets and to finance the export of any U.S. agricultural product, regardless of its source. The law also expands the bank's authority to buy and sell loan participations and syndications.
CoBank merges with Farm Credit Bank of Springfield (Massachusetts) and the Springfield Bank for Cooperatives to form CoBank ACB. The transaction marks the first-ever consolidation of a Farm Credit Bank and a Bank for Cooperatives. As a result, CoBank begins providing funding for Agricultural Credit Associations in New England, New York and New Jersey.
CoBank completes the merger with St. Paul Bank for Cooperatives and its acquisition of majority interest in Farm Credit Leasing Services Corp.
CoBank issues preferred stock for the first time. The $300 million sale of preferred stock to outside investors is approved by more than 97 percent of voting stockholders.
Stockholders of CoBank and AgAmerica FCB vote to authorize the reaffiliation of Northwest Farm Credit Services with CoBank. The addition of NWFCS, a Farm Credit association serving farmers, ranchers and other rural borrowers in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Alaska, significantly expands CoBank's wholesale lending portfolio.
CoBank stockholders approve the sale of $300 million in additional preferred stock, strengthening the bank's overall capital position.
CoBank increases its ownership stake in Farm Credit Leasing Services Corporation from 82% to 100%. In addition, CoBank stockholders approve a board-restructuring proposal to further strengthen the bank’s governance process. The bylaw changes include reducing the size of the board, combining existing board districts into three regions and extending director terms from three to four years. The new structure will be implemented over a three-year transition period.
CoBank adopts a new logo and a new corporate tagline: "Cooperative. Connected. Committed."
CoBank signs a letter of intent to merge with U.S. AgBank. Based in Wichita, Kansas, U.S. AgBank provides wholesale financing to 26 Farm Credit associations.
The proposed merger of CoBank and U.S. AgBank is approved by the banks' stockholders as well as the Farm Credit Administration, the regulator of the Farm Credit System.
CoBank and U.S. AgBank formally merge Jan. 1, 2012. The combined bank serves customers, including rural infrastructure providers and agribusiness cooperatives, all over the country along with 29 Farm Credit associations in 23 states.
Later that year, CoBank celebrates United Nations’ International Year of the Cooperative by launching its signature “Sharing Success” program, a $3 million annual fund that matches the contributions of the bank’s customers to the charities of their choice.
CoBank’s board of directors approve a plan to downsize the board of directors under a shareholder-approved governance restructuring process with 10 board seats to be eliminated over the next four years, bringing the number of elected directors on the board from 24 to 14 by the end of 2019.
The Farm Credit System celebrates its 100th year of providing financial services to U.S. agriculture and rural America. With $248 billion in loans to 500,000 customer-owners, the System is the largest and oldest U.S. financial cooperative dedicated exclusively to serving rural America.
Charitable contributions of CoBank and its customers through the Sharing Success program total more than $30 million.
CoBank launches its diversity inclusion initiative, adding eight associate resource groups. These groups help promote an inclusive workplace and support the bank’s ongoing DEI efforts.
This year’s election completed CoBank’s stockholder-approved downsizing of CoBank’s board of directors, resulting in an even balance between directors elected on a one-stockholder-one-vote basis and those elected on a modified equity basis. The board will also have up to four appointed directors and will continue to have two outside directors with no customer or Farm Credit System affiliations.
CoBank contributes $500,000 to the University of Colorado’s Center for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention to address the ongoing public health issue of opioid and prescription drug abuse through research and education.
CoBank announces a series of charitable contributions, totaling $1.4 million in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a specific focus on relief efforts in rural America.
CoBank opens its lending to small businesses under the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, which is a key part of the federal government’s economic relief response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the inception of its Sharing Success program, CoBank and its customers contribute more than $50 million to charitable organizations and causes.
CoBank re-opens its lending to small businesses under the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program.
CoBank makes $5 million investment to the National Western Stock Show to support the development of the National Western Center.
CoBank reduces the target equity levels contained in its capital plans for cooperatives and other patronage-eligible commercial borrowers, as well as for affiliated and nonaffiliated Farm Credit institutions.
CoBank commits $500,000 to Oklahoma’s Langston University, creating education and career development opportunities for students.
CoBank donates $2 million to DC Central Kitchen, helping the organization dramatically increase its local farm purchases through expanded, innovative hunger-fighting partnerships.
Charitable contributions through the Sharing Success program total more than $75 million from CoBank and its customers since 2012.