CoBank and the Farm Credit System celebrate a century of service to rural communities and businesses

A Century of Service to Rural America

On July 17, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation creating 12 Federal Land Banks, a nationwide network of lending institutions specifically chartered to provide dependable credit to farmers, ranchers, and other rural borrowers. Over the past century, the descendants of those Land Banks, including CoBank, have continued to support these agricultural borrowers, although the mission has since grown to include electric co-ops, communications companies, and other vital supporters of America’s rural infrastructure.


Strength in Tough Times

The Farm Credit System was critical to the well-being of rural America through the Great Depression. In 1933 and 1934 alone, the System loaned more than $2 billion to help farmers and ranchers refinance their debts and keep producing during those difficult times. By 1947, the Federal Land Banks were strong enough to pay off the seed money they had received from the federal government, and under a cooperative structure, they became completely farmer-owned.


An Evolving Structure

The System has evolved over the years in order to better serve its customer-owners. The Farm Credit Act of 1933 created 13 Banks for Cooperatives, and in 1989, eleven of those banks merged to become CoBank, which is now the largest single entity of the Farm Credit System. The System is now the largest provider of debt capital to rural America, with more than $300 billion in total assets.

Click here to learn more about the Farm Credit System.