Atlanta Fed Grassroots Transcript

Larkin Martin
Board of Directors
Birmingham Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

My name is Larkin Martin. I run a family farm in north Alabama. We grow all row crops: cotton, corn, soy beans, and wheat.

I have been involved with the Fed in a number of roles over the years on different boards. Right now, I'm serving on the Agriculture Advisory Committee, which meets twice a year in Birmingham. In the rural part of Alabama, where we are, we're a significant employer because the employment base is relatively small. But we're also pretty typical of lots of other commercial farms around the country in rural areas. The kinds of things that I've been able to mention to the Atlanta Fed—it's mostly anecdotal information, but it's anecdotes about the forces that are impacting our farming decisions at that time. So for instance, at one point, I was able to identify a rail software problem that was not allowing freight cars to be delivered to a point that we were also delivering our grains to. Turns out that that software problem had actually caused problems with rail transportation around the country, and I didn't realize that what I saw was anecdotal and local. I alerted the Fed to a national problem that became a point of discussion at major meetings in Washington.

Partnering with the Fed, I feel like I have the opportunity to express myself in a room where my thoughts on something might matter and might inform the debate about the economy. I also feel like I bring home after those meetings a lot more information than I otherwise would have had about what the Fed is thinking and about sectors of the economy I'm unaware of on a daily basis. I learn a great deal and hopefully am able to help bring information forward that's meaningful to the policymakers.