FCA Governors, 1933–1986
Henry Morgenthau Jr. was the first Governor of FCA. He was appointed Chairman of the Federal Farm Board by his long-time friend and neighbor, Franklin D. Roosevelt, soon after Mr. Roosevelt’s inauguration to the presidency on March 4, 1933. Mr. Morgenthau became Governor of the Farm Credit Administration upon the effective date of the Executive order establishing FCA.
Before beginning his career with FCA, Mr. Morgenthau had served under Mr. Roosevelt when Mr. Roosevelt had been Governor of New York—first as chairman of the New York State Agricultural Advisory Commission in 1929 and then as State commissioner of conservation in 1930. In his role as a key advisor to the new president on the farm crisis, he was tasked with abolishing the Federal Farm Board and establishing an independent farm credit agency that would consolidate the various agricultural credit agencies.
He also was charged with ameliorating the financial problems of farmers, who were losing their farms during the Depression at an alarming rate. To accomplish those objectives, he brought William I. Myers of Cornell University to Washington to advise him and to write the Executive order establishing the Farm Credit Administration, as well as the legislation authorizing it—the Farm Credit Act.
Mr. Morgenthau served at FCA until later in 1933, when the President appointed him Acting and Under Secretary of the Treasury. In 1934, he was named Secretary of the Treasury after Secretary William Woodin’s ill health forced him to resign. Mr. Morgenthau remained in that role for 11 years.
He is credited with stabilizing the U.S. currency during the pre-World War II years, financing the war effort with his successful program to sell $200 billion of war bonds, and financing the new Social Security program with a separate tax rather than with general revenues. He also played a leading role at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944 to establish the international banking system after World War II. The conference set up the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (now the World Bank).
Born in 1891, Mr. Morgenthau studied agriculture and architecture at Cornell University. When he was quite young, he bought a large farm in Dutchess County, New York, and specialized in dairy farming and apple growing. During World War I, he worked with Herbert Hoover in the U.S. Farm Administration to send tractors to France. From 1922 to 1933, he was publisher of what became the leading national weekly on agriculture, The American Agriculturalist.
After leaving the Treasury Department, Mr. Morgenthau served as chairman of the United Jewish Appeal (1947–50), helping to raise $465 million, and as chairman of the board of governors of the American Financial and Development Corporation for Israel (1951–54), handling a $500 million bond issue for the new country.
Mr. Morgenthau died on February 6, 1967.
William (Bill) Myers was the first Deputy Governor of FCA and succeeded Henry Morgenthau Jr. to become the Agency’s second Governor. Mr. Myers came to Washington with Mr. Morgenthau in 1932 as his technical advisor on reorganizing the farm credit system established in 1916, which was undercapitalized and struggling to pay the interest on the capital it had borrowed.
Mr. Myers’s task was to write the executive and legislative documents to revitalize the system. Together with Rep. Marvin Jones, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, he wrote the Executive order consolidating all agricultural credit agencies and named the new agency the Farm Credit Administration.
The two men also wrote two pieces of legislation—the Farm Credit Act of 1933, which implemented FCA and established the Farm Credit System (FCS), and the Emergency Farm Mortgage Act of 1933, which provided emergency financing to farmers at risk of losing their farms. For those accomplishments as well as those in his nearly five years as Governor, Mr. Myers is credited with being the principal architect of the FCS.
Mr. Myers was exceptionally well qualified to address the agricultural credit crisis of the Depression years. He had earned bachelor’s and doctoral degrees from the agriculture college at Cornell University, where he taught farm management and finance. His vision was for a separate, reliable source of credit to meet the needs of farmers, not one geared toward business and industry.
Mr. Myers also wanted the FCS to eventually be free of the Government subsidies that were capitalizing the new system and reducing interest rates, and to be owned by the farmer-borrowers themselves. In his address to the 1936 annual meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Mr. Myers asked the federation to not request Congress to continue the subsidized interest rate on land bank loans, noting that the FCS was a cooperative organization that should stand on its own as quickly as possible.
Mr. Myers’s personal and professional abilities earned him the respect of those in Government, as well as those who worked in the district banks and associations across the country and the leaders of the national farm organizations. Mr. Myers was determined to build a strong, efficient system by choosing and training the most qualified people regardless of their political persuasion as officers of the Federal Land Banks, Production Credit Associations (PCAs), and Banks for Cooperatives.
The FCS grew rapidly to fill the void as other agricultural lenders left the market, processing 500,000 loans valued at $1.25 billion in 1934. At a time when most new organizations in Government were highly affected by political considerations, Mr. Myers kept FCA focused on the job of helping farmers help themselves.
Mr. Myers left FCA in 1938 to return to Cornell to lead its Department of Agricultural Economics. From 1943 to 1959 he was dean of the New York State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell. During those years, he served on numerous committees and commissions, including the following:
- President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Committee on Farm Tenancy
- The American Institute of Cooperation
- The New York State Commission on Agriculture
- President Harry S Truman’s Famine Emergency Committee
- The Committee on Foreign Aid (which, under the leadership of Secretary of Commerce W. Averell Harriman, made recommendations that led to the Marshall Plan to rehabilitate Europe)
- The New York State Food Commission
- The National Agricultural Advisory Commission
- The President’s National Agricultural Advisory Council, to which he was appointed by President Dwight Eisenhower to serve as its first chairman
His broad interests in education resulted in Myers’s serving for many years as a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, the General Education Board, the Carnegie Institution of Washington, the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships, the Agricultural Development Council, Elmira College, and Vassar College.
He traveled as a consultant to the Philippines and India for Cornell University and the Ford Foundation. For five years, he served on the International Development Advisory Board of the International Cooperation Administration.
Mr. Myers served on the boards of directors of many large businesses, as well as of several farmers cooperatives. For 12 years, he served on the Board of Directors and was Deputy Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
He was honored with many awards by farmers groups, including induction in 1976 into the Cooperative Hall of Fame, which honors men and women who have made “genuinely heroic contributions to the enhancement of cooperative enterprise and to the advancement of the principles of cooperation.” After he died in January 1976, he was memorialized with an endowed faculty chair, the William I. Myers Professorship of Agricultural Finance, at Cornell’s agricultural college in 1979.
Forrest Hill was the third Governor of FCA. He came to Washington in 1934 from a teaching position at Cornell University at the request of his predecessor and Ph.D. advisor, William I. Myers. He was tasked with organizing the Production Credit Associations and later became Myers’s Deputy Governor in charge of finance and research. During a time when loan volume in the Farm Credit System was high and the FCS was integrating many new employees, the two men were credited with ensuring high standards in FCS institutions across the country.
When Mr. Myers returned to Cornell, he recommended to President Franklin D. Roosevelt that Mr. Hill replace him as Governor. Mr. Hill served for one-and-a-half years before resigning after a dispute with Secretary of Agriculture Henry A. Wallace over the autonomy of FCA. Mr. Hill, as had Mr. Myers before him, wanted to keep FCA independent, reporting only to Congress and the President.
Secretary Wallace wanted to bring it under the management of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In 1939, by Executive order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, FCA did become part of USDA, only regaining its independent status years later under the Farm Credit Act of 1953.
At the time Mr. Hill left FCA, the FCS had a portfolio of loans valued at more than $5 billion. After leaving FCA, Mr. Hill returned to Cornell in 1940, serving for 15 years as a professor of land economics, as chairman of the Department of Agricultural Economics, and as provost of the university. Frustrated with a lack of funding to improve the status of the faculty, he resigned in 1955 to become the vice president of overseas development for the Ford Foundation.
Working in developing countries and in partnership with J. George Harrar, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, he helped establish international research centers, such as the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico. He also worked to increase agricultural yields and cofounded the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. From 1963 to 1978 he was chairman of the board of IRRI; he also served as president of the American Agricultural Economics Association. Mr. Hill considered his work with international research groups to solve world food problems the most satisfying of his career.
Mr. Hill is memorialized at Cornell University through the “Frosty” Hill Agricultural Research Fellowship in honor of his significant contributions to the application of agricultural sciences in addressing critical world food problems.
Albert G. Black was the fourth Governor of FCA. Less than a year before his appointment, FCA had been put under the control of the U.S. Department of Agriculture by Executive order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Mr. Black came from USDA, where he had been the Director of Marketing and Regulation in the Agricultural Adjustment Administration and, before that, the Director of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics.
At the beginning of Mr. Black’s term, he, along with Agriculture Secretary Henry A. Wallace, sought to change the structure of the Federal Land Bank System from stock cooperatives to membership cooperatives, with no monetary contribution by the farmer-borrowers. The Government would guarantee the bonds the land banks sold to raise money for loan capital.
This plan, embodied in the Wheeler-Jones bill, would have made the Farm Credit System another Government lending program controlled by USDA, not by the farmers. Although the bill did not pass, these actions to change the FCS made many farm organizations and farmers determined to achieve an independent FCA led by a Board whose members came from the FCS (although appointed by the President).
Consequently, by the last year of Mr. Black’s service, the Federal Land Banks started to make a concerted effort to pay off their Government capital. Most achieved this by 1946, and by 1947, all capital had been repaid. At the same time, the Production Credit Associations mounted successful campaigns to encourage farmer-borrowers to buy Class A nonvoting stock in addition to the Class B stock they were required to buy when they took out loans. By 1944, the first PCA became completely farmer owned.
Also during Mr. Black’s tenure, which coincided with the years of World War II, farm prices and the value of farmland rose along with the demand for food for the troops. The Governor, concerned that the wartime boom in land prices would lead to a devastating decline as it had after World War I, mounted a publicity campaign urging farmers not to get overextended by paying too much for farmland. The feared bust in land prices did not occur, however, and farmers’ increased income allowed them to substantially reduce their farm mortgage debts, as FCA had urged. Total mortgage debt fell from $12 billion in 1940 to $8 billion in 1945. The trend toward more prosperous times for farmers and the FCS continued through the 1970s.
Ivy W. Duggan was Governor of FCA when it was an agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He had served as Deputy Governor for a year before his appointment. During his term, the 12 Federal Land Banks and 281 of the 499 Production Credit Associations became completely farmer owned, having paid back the last of the Government capital that established them.
He resigned from FCA in 1953 to become vice president of the Trust Company of Georgia.
Mr. Duggan started his Government career as an economist with the Agricultural Adjustment Administration in 1934, becoming director of its southern division in 1937. Before that position, he was a professor of agricultural economics at Clemson College and at Mississippi State College. In Georgia, he had taught vocational agriculture and then became a county agricultural agent.
Mr. Duggan earned a bachelor’s degree from Clemson College and a master’s degree in rural economics from The Ohio State University. In 1937, Clemson College conferred an honorary doctorate upon Mr. Duggan in recognition of his outstanding work in agriculture. Other honors were the Honorary State Farmers degree from the State Farmers of Mississippi, and the Honorary Farmers degree from the Future Farmers of America. He died in January 1986.
Carl R. Arnold succeeded Ivy W. Duggan as Governor after having served FCA as its second Production Credit Commissioner from 1938 to 1951. A fervent believer in democratic control for the Production Credit Associations and all levels of the Farm Credit System, he put much effort into training farmers to operate their local PCAs and other cooperatives.
Mr. Arnold especially pushed the PCAs to pay back their Government capital in order to become wholly owned by their farmer-borrowers. At the time he took office as Governor, all the Federal Land Banks and more than half of the PCAs had paid back their Government capital.
The Farm Credit Act of 1953 removed FCA from its home in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and restored it as an independent Federal agency, effective December 1953. As Governor, Mr. Arnold was integral to setting up the procedure for nominations for, and appointments to, the new Federal Farm Credit Board, which would lead the Agency until its governance structure changed in 1986. Mr. Arnold was the Board’s choice for its first appointed Governor, but he declined for health reasons. He did serve as Acting Governor, however, until Robert B. Tootell was appointed.
Mr. Arnold was an Extension economist with The Ohio State University before he began his service with FCA.
Robert B. Tootell was the first Governor appointed by the new Federal Farm Credit Board, a post he held for 15 years and through four presidential administrations.
During Mr. Tootell’s tenure and as a result of policies adopted by the Board, the FCS grew rapidly, quadrupling in net worth. By 1968, it was serving about 725,000 members, up from 517,000 members 15 years before.
The crowning achievement of Mr. Tootell’s career was when the Farm Credit System paid back all Government capital by the end of 1968 and became completely owned by its farmer-borrowers. This milestone enabled the Federal Farm Credit Board to appoint future Governors without presidential approval, thus helping to separate the FCS from political considerations.
Before his service as Governor, Mr. Tootell had been chief reviewing appraiser at the Federal Land Bank of Spokane and on the appraisal staff of FCA. He then became head of the Department of Agricultural Economics and, later, director of the Agricultural Extension Service at Montana State College, from which he had graduated. Later, he became director of the Washington State College Agricultural Extension Service.
Internationally recognized as an agricultural expert, Mr. Tootell served as a consultant overseas on several short-term assignments. Shortly before he left FCA, he received a Distinguished Service Award by the Nation’s farm magazine editors. Mr. Tootell died on August 20, 1971.
Mr. Jaenke, at age 38 when he assumed the Governor’s position, was the youngest person to hold this office. His focus and major accomplishment as Governor was to recognize the need to broaden the authority of the Farm Credit System to meet the demands and challenges of modern agriculture and rural residents. The Commission on Agricultural Credit, formed in 1969 by the Federal Farm Credit Board at Mr. Jaenke’s recommendation, came up with 12 objectives for the System. Some of these objectives were to ensure credit for young farmers; for certain farm-related businesses necessary for agricultural production, processing, and marketing; and for the development of rural America, including nonfarm rural homes, rural utility systems, and other community needs.
These objectives assumed a broader view of the needs of farmers. They consequently were included in the Farm Credit Act of 1971 (or later amendments), which expanded the System’s ability to serve farmers, ranchers, their cooperatives, and rural Americans, including nonfarming families. Commercial fishermen also became eligible for System loans in the Act.
During Mr. Jaenke’s tenure, the System served more farmers and ranchers than ever before. Loan volume increased from $10 billion in 1969 to $26 billion in 1974. Total net worth of the System grew from $2 billion to more than $3 billion.
Mr. Jaenke came to Washington in 1957 from Missouri, where he had been an instructor and research assistant at the University of Missouri, to work as an agricultural economist for Senator Stuart Symington (D-Mo.). He then worked for the Department of Agriculture as Deputy Administrator of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service and as Vice President of the Commodity Credit Corporation. During this period, in 1966, he was given the Arthur S. Flemming Award, which honors outstanding Federal employees. He was an important figure in the creation and privatization of the National Cooperative Bank, which builds and finances consumer cooperatives. For this and his other accomplishments in the service of the cooperative movement, he was inducted in 1986 into the Cooperative Hall of Fame.
Mr. Jaenke earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture at the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in agricultural economics at the University of Missouri. He served in the U.S. Navy between his degree programs and has international experience as a delegate on various councils. After his tenure at FCA, Mr. Jaenke started E.A. Jaenke & Associates, an agricultural consulting firm.
W. Malcolm Harding was appointed Governor of FCA by the Federal Farm Credit Board.
Before becoming Governor, Mr. Harding served for nearly two years as Deputy Governor and Director of Credit Service for FCA. In this role, he coordinated the extension of credit by the banks and associations of the Farm Credit System and assisted them in developing loan, appraisal, and credit standards.
Mr. Harding spent nearly his entire adult life serving the credit needs of farmers, beginning in 1958 when he was named assistant manager of the Federal Land Bank Association of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. After three years, he moved to the Federal Land Bank of Columbia (South Carolina) as a credit analyst. He advanced to increasingly responsible positions in the bank and in 1967 became vice president for credit and appraisal. In 1972, he was named vice president for credit for the Federal Intermediate Credit Bank of Columbia.
He finished his service with FCA when he retired in 1993 as chief executive officer of the Central Bank for Cooperatives (CoBank). He had been a leader in consolidating 11 Banks for Cooperatives to form CoBank. Then, as CEO, he led the effort to create an international banking program to help U.S. farm cooperatives sell in world markets.
Mr. Harding was inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame in 1997, which honors men and women who have made “genuinely heroic contributions to the enhancement of cooperative enterprise and to the advancement of the principles of cooperation.” He joined previous FCA Governors William I. Myers and Edwin A. Jaenke in receiving that award. He was also honored with a scholarship in his name at Oklahoma State University, sponsored by the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives Education Foundation to encourage students to pursue education on cooperative topics.
A native of Yadkinville, North Carolina, Mr. Harding earned an A.B. from the University of North Carolina and taught in the Davidson County school system. Following two years’ service in the U.S. Army, Mr. Harding worked on his family’s farm until accepting his first assignment with the FCS.
Donald E. Wilkinson was the last Governor of FCA. The Agency’s governing structure was changed in the Farm Credit Amendments Act of 1985 to a three-person, presidentially appointed Board. When the Act became effective on January 23, 1986, he was named Acting Chairman.
Mr. Wilkinson served during the agricultural crisis of the 1980s, which saw high interest rates to stem rising inflation, lower prices for farm commodities, and therefore lower incomes for farmers, which prevented or hindered them from repaying their loans. The Farm Credit System itself suffered losses greater than those it had seen during the Depression.
Mr. Wilkinson brought to his position extensive experience and education in agriculture. Before becoming Governor, Mr. Wilkinson served one-and-a-half years as Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Before that position, he was secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture from 1969 to 1975. He began his career there in 1948 and held various positions, including chief of the marketing division and assistant secretary.
Mr. Wilkinson was an active member of various agricultural organizations and served as president of two associations: the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (1973–74) and the National Association of Marketing Officials (1964). He also served on USDA’s Marketing Advisory Committee (1969–75) and the Federal Energy Office’s Agricultural Advisory Committee (1974).
Among the honors Mr. Wilkinson received was
- a Joint Resolution for Distinguished Achievement by the Wisconsin legislature,
- a Commendation for Distinguished Service by the Governor of Wisconsin,
- an Honorary American Farmer degree from the Future Farmers of America, and
- the award for Executive of the Year by SME–Madison, a professional organization of sales and marketing executives, in 1974.
A native of Benton, Wisconsin, Mr. Wilkinson earned degrees in agricultural economics and agricultural education from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. During World War II, he served in the Army Air Corps as a B-29 Superfortress pilot, with combat duty in the Pacific Theater.