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Farm Bill
Senate Passes ICBA-Advocated Farm Bill
The Senate passed the ICBA-advocated farm bill, sending the legislation to the White House to be signed into law. The Agricultural Act of 2014 (H.R. 2642) passed on a 68-32 Senate vote following last week’s passage in the House.

In a national news release, ICBA thanked the Senate for passing the five-year farm bill to provide a long-term framework for the nation’s agricultural and rural policies. The act includes several provisions that advance ICBA objectives to spur rural economic growth, including provisions of the act to strengthen crop and revenue insurance programs and to remove term limits on USDA guaranteed farm operating loans.

In separate statements, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) said Congress worked across party lines to support sound agricultural policy while delivering taxpayers billions of dollars in savings.

ICBA has worked closely with Congress in recent years to ensure a strong farm bill safety net while providing a robust crop insurance program and enhancing USDA guaranteed farm loan programs. As the farm bill developed, ICBA advocated removing term limits on guaranteed farm operating loans and strongly opposed expanding Farm Credit System lending powers.

ICBA encouraged President Barack Obama to quickly sign H.R. 2642 into law. Read ICBA Release. View the Farm Bill Conference Report.



Security
ICBA Continues Advocating Reforms to Strengthen Payments System
ICBA continued its efforts to ensure Congress understands the impact of recent retailer data breaches on community banks and the need for a stronger payments system.

In a statement for today’s House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing and in a coalition letter to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, ICBA noted that community banks are actively responding to the breaches and absorbing the costs of making their customers whole. The messages follow similar communications this week with the Senate Banking Committee.

In its meetings and communications with Congress, ICBA is advocating that:
  • the costs of data breaches should ultimately be borne by the party at fault for the breach,
  • all participants in the payments system—including merchants—should be subject to Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act–like standards,
  • a national data-security breach and notification standard should be enacted to replace the current patchwork of state laws, and
  • unnecessary barriers to effective threat-information sharing between law enforcement and the financial and retail sectors should be removed.
Additionally, ICBA continues to clarify that while community banks and other financial institutions are migrating to chip-and-PIN technology for debit and credit cards, this technology may not have prevented the recent retailer breaches and does not protect against fraud in “card-not-present” transactions, such as online purchases.

In addition to meeting with congressional offices and reporters on the impact of the data breaches, ICBA also continues offering data-security resources for community banks and their customers on the association’s online security breach toolkit.

Read ICBA Statement. Read Joint Letter. Access ICBA Data Breach Toolkit.



Advocacy
ICBA Urging Community Bankers to Send Letters Against Costly Accounting Proposal
ICBA is calling on the nation’s community bankers to send in custom comment letters opposing proposed accounting standards that would require all community banks to revise how they account for their loan-loss reserves (ALLL), loans and securities.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board proposal would implement a single approach for recognizing credit losses on loans, securities and trade receivables. The proposal would use an “expected loss” model, which would require banks to estimate expected credit losses and recognize the net present value of those losses at origination. It would replace the “incurred loss” model.

FASB’s proposal would require complex modeling and compel banks to recognize losses much earlier than necessary in the credit-loss cycle, penalizing community banks for investing in loans and securities. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency estimates that loan-loss reserves on average will increase by 30 percent to 50 percent with adoption of the proposal.

ICBA’s customizable letter urges FASB to re-propose a simpler and more straightforward proposal that would not harm the nation’s community banks. Community bankers can go online to sign the petition, send in a customizable comment letter to FASB, and access a summary and frequently asked questions on the proposal.

In December, ICBA delivered to FASB its petition signed by 4,650 community bankers and allies urging FASB to withdraw the plan. Send in Your Letter Today!



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In the News
Editorial: Feds' Double Standard Enables Bad Bankers
Plenty of bankers are in jail for bubble-era crimes, just not those who work at the largest banks, American Banker Editor-in-Chief Neil Weinberg writes in a new editorial.

Weinberg writes that U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff has concluded that the lack of prosecutions at the largest banks is due to the Justice Department’s focus on terrorism and insider trading investigations and the government's reluctance to shine a light on a crisis that it played a leading role in creating.

Weinberg concludes that the message to Wall Street—that it's open season to continue unethical and illegal behavior as long as it pays—has been manifested in sizable CEO pay packages. Read the Editorial.



Convention
Registration Deadline for Convention Tours Ends Next Week
Tour registration for ICBA Community Banking Live 2014 in Honolulu ends on Monday, Feb. 10. This is the last opportunity to pre-register for optional tours during the convention. On-site registration will be accommodated subject to space availability.

Additionally, the ICBA Live 2014 Mobile App is now available. Designed for smartphones and tablets, the interactive mobile app will connect community bankers with the latest convention news, exhibitor information, social media discussions and more. To download the mobile app, search “ICBA” in your App Store or Market. Pre-register for Tours. Register for the Convention.



Poll
Take This Week’s Quick Poll
Take this week’s Quick Poll on financial literacy, and view results from the previous poll on ICBA’s mobile apps. View the Archive.


Magazine
Is Your Community Bank Up to the IB Digital Challenge?
Find the singing executive in the special section of ICBA Independent Banker’s January issue, Industry Partners Get Personal, and IB will profile your bank for Community Banking Month. In the special section, executives from five prominent community bank service providers offer their perspectives on industry trends and developments in 2014. View the section in the digital edition, click on the tagged hyperlinks and get your community bank profiled. Learn More on How to Enter.


Education
ICBA Audio Call Tomorrow on Moving Ahead in 2014
With 2014 poised to be a defining year for many community banks, an upcoming ICBA presentation will focus on how to move forward by looking back to understand the important events of 2013. “Moving Forward in 2014 By Looking Back at 2013,” slated for 11 a.m. (Eastern time) tomorrow, will help community bank directors and officers identify how various regulatory actions affects their institutions and operating environment. Learn More and Register.












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