Tuesday, January 25, 2022 - 11:55am

BISMARCK, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum is urging the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to remove language from its proposed 2022-2026 strategic plan that discourages credit unions from lending to farmers and ranchers.

Citing “climate related financial risks,” the draft plan assumes that changing weather patterns “will disproportionately affect farming communities” and suggests that “to remain resilient credit unions may need to consider adjustments” to their membership.

In a letter submitted Monday as public comment on the draft plan, Burgum noted that North Dakota’s 34 credit unions have 214,000 members and currently hold $748 million in agricultural loans, accounting for roughly one-quarter of their loan portfolios on average. Agriculture “should be viewed as an industry uniquely positioned to capture and store carbon,” he stated, warning that discouraging ag lending would be counterproductive to carbon reduction goals.

“Given our administration’s goal of North Dakota becoming a carbon neutral state by 2030, we appreciate NCUA’s concern about climate change,” Burgum wrote to the NCUA Board. “However, carbon neutrality can be achieved only through innovation, not regulation – and certainly not by limiting access to credit for agricultural operations with natural carbon storage capacity.”

“The plan’s proposed draft language under ‘Climate-Related Financial Risks’ is ill-conceived, politically motivated, anti-agriculture rhetoric that threatens to cause serious harm to the farmers and ranchers who form the backbone of rural America,” Burgum continued. “We strongly urge that it be stricken from the proposed draft or significantly revised to encourage agricultural lending.”

Monday was the deadline to submit public comment on the proposed strategic plan before the NCUA Board considers it for final adoption.