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Notice

Systematic Collection of Standardized Loan Data

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AGENCY:

Farm Credit Administration.

ACTION:

Notice with request for comment.

SUMMARY:

The Farm Credit Administration (FCA or agency) is seeking public input on the changes it should consider making to its systematic collection of standardized loan data. The agency currently collects basic descriptive information from Farm Credit System (FCS or System) banks and associations, in a standardized format, using the Loan Account Reporting System—Modified (LARS-M). The agency is planning to reengineer its collection of standardized loan data to meet its current and future information needs. In support of this reengineering project, FCA is seeking public comment on changes the agency should consider making to the loan data it collects; what processes and technological approaches to employ when collecting loan data; how to minimize the reporting burden on System institutions while meeting agency needs; and what types of standardized reports to make available to the general public and System institutions.

DATES:

Please send your comments to the FCA by May 3, 2004.

ADDRESSES:

We encourage you to send comments by electronic mail to reg-comm@fca.gov or through the Pending Regulations section of FCA's Web site, http://www.fca.gov. You may also send comments to Andrew Jacob, Assistant Director, Office of Policy and Analysis, Farm Credit Administration, 1501 Farm Credit Drive, McLean, VA 22102-5090 or by facsimile to (703) 734-5784. You may review copies of all comments we receive at our office in McLean, Virginia.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Gaylon J. Dykstra, Policy Analyst, Office of Policy and Analysis, Farm Credit Administration, McLean, VA 22102-5090, (703) 883-4073, TTY (703) 883-4434;

or

Howard Rubin, Senior Attorney, Office of the General Counsel, Farm Credit Administration, McLean, VA 22102-5090, (703) 883-4029, TTY (703) 883-2020.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

A. What Loan Data Does FCA Collect?

FCA currently collects certain standardized loan information from FCS banks and associations using the LARS-M. Examples of standardized variables collected include:

1. The date the loan was originated and the date on which it matures; Start Printed Page 12695

2. The primary agricultural commodity produced by the borrower;

3. Whether a loan is covered by a government guarantee;

4. If a loan is past due, the number of days the loan payment is delinquent;

5. The risk of the loan based on the uniform classification system as defined in the FCA Examination Manual (EM-320); and

6. Whether the borrower is in bankruptcy or the loan is in foreclosure status.

The agency also obtains direct institution-specific loan data as needed for examination purposes.

B. How Does FCA Use Loan Data?

FCA uses loan information to support its supervision and regulation of System institutions. For supervisory purposes, loan information is important for evaluating portfolio risk associated with agricultural lending and analyzing credit risks in individual agricultural loans. Loan data are also required for monitoring Systemwide trends and emerging vulnerabilities. For regulatory purposes, loan information is used for developing regulations and other public policy actions. FCA also uses loan data in fulfilling reporting requirements and informational requests.

C. Identifying Loan Portfolio Risk

Identification of risks in a loan portfolio is essential to FCA's evaluation of an institution's safety and soundness. Loan portfolio risk reflects individual loan exposures and the combined effects on a portfolio. Risk in individual loans is a function of characteristics associated with a borrower's agricultural operation and financial condition and performance. Examples of loan characteristics include the commodities produced, geographic location, payment history, financial strength, and off-farm income. These types of loan data are important determinants of the credit risk of a loan. Therefore, FCA access to loan data is critical for evaluating portfolio risks of System institutions and the credit risk of individual loans.

D. Monitoring Systemwide Trends

Analyzing Systemwide trends and emerging vulnerabilities is a critical agency activity for monitoring the overall mission accomplishment and ongoing safety and soundness of the FCS. Monitoring Systemwide trends helps FCA identify when risks are impacting the System's agricultural loans. For example, the System may show an overall increase in delinquent loans. Access to loan data allows the agency to analyze this trend and associated characteristics, such as geographic location, commodity linkage, or other commonalities among affected institutions. Similarly, the agency uses loan data to analyze the impact of emerging vulnerabilities, such as food safety concerns, trade disputes, changes in government support programs, shifts in consumer preferences, and climactic events. Using loan data, the agency can better identify vulnerable System loans. Access to loan data increases FCA's understanding of the systemic risks facing the FCS and helps the agency determine if any policy actions are needed.

E. Developing Regulations and Policy

FCA uses loan data to support its regulation of System institutions. For example, loan data provide information needed to evaluate the impact of capital adequacy standards, lending limits, and liquidity requirements. Moreover, access to loan data allows the agency to analyze the effectiveness and results achieved from regulations and policy actions.

F. Fulfilling Reporting Requirements and Responding to Information Requests

The agency is required to periodically provide reports to Congress. The agency also frequently responds to information requests from Congress and others. Ready access to loan data aids FCA in timely and accurately responding to reporting requirements and information requests.

G. Why Is FCA Considering Changing Its Standardized Collection of Loan Data?

LARS-M was first implemented in 1987 and last revised in 1993. While LARS-M provides FCA with a standardized and centralized collection of loan data, it has not kept pace with changes in financial reporting systems, is incomplete as to loan types, lacks detail, and only allows access to current quarter data. FCA, therefore, believes improvements are needed to fully meet the agency's current and future information needs.

FCA examiners also obtain loan information directly from System institutions on an as-needed basis for use in conducting examinations, but this information is not standardized or centralized. As a result, directly downloaded data are not useful or available for Systemwide analysis or reporting. More importantly, the downloaded data vary considerably by FCA field office since loan information systems vary across System institutions. Therefore, standardized and centralized collection of loan data would help overcome the variety in electronic loan information systems used by FCS institutions.

II. Objectives of This Project

The objectives of FCA's project to reengineer its standardized collection of loan data from System institutions are to:

1. Determine the appropriate set of loan data to collect on a systematic, centralized, and standardized basis that meets the agency's needs;

2. Streamline the collection process of loan data to enhance reliability, timeliness, and data accuracy;

3. Minimize the reporting burden on System institutions; and

4. Provide appropriate standardized reports to internal and, potentially, external parties.

The reengineering project will address the limitations of the current approach to a standardized collection of loan data. The agency is already considering the data elements it needs to collect on individual loans, including what specific financial information, loan performance data, and other essential information about loan characteristics that are necessary for adequately evaluating portfolio and loan risks. Moreover, the project will also address the agency's need to collect information for all loans made by System institutions. Along with these considerations, the agency is evaluating the data elements needed to model loan performance characteristics through time, such as probability of default, loss severity, and exposures at default. In the future, modeling loan performance may become a key aspect in the evaluation of a System institution's capital adequacy. FCA is also evaluating new technologies to streamline and improve the collection process. This evaluation includes reducing the reporting burden by relying on an efficient process that utilizes information readily available in the different FCS institutions' electronic loan information systems.

FCA is also evaluating the standardized reports the agency currently uses in conducting its supervisory and regulatory programs, including considering the type of reports to make available to the general public and System institutions in light of legal restrictions and other constraints regarding the release of private and sensitive business information used solely for examination purposes.

III. Questions

To augment the agency's experience and expertise with agricultural lending practices and credit analysis, FCA is seeking public input on the changes it Start Printed Page 12696should consider making as it reengineers the systematic collection of standardized loan data from System institutions. Specifically, the agency requests comments on:

1. What suggestions do you have regarding loan data elements?

2. What processes and technological approaches to employ to streamline the collection of loan data?

3. How to minimize the reporting burden on System institutions while meeting the agency's informational needs?

4. What standardized reports to make available to the general public and System institutions, considering the need to protect private and proprietary confidential information?

Along with these questions, we welcome any other comments or suggestions the agency should consider as it moves forward with this initiative.

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Dated: March 12, 2004.

Jeanette C. Brinkley,

Secretary, Farm Credit Administration Board.

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[FR Doc. 04-5988 Filed 3-16-04; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6705-01-P