I would like to begin this article by saying thank you to my fellow Ag Section Board members and to Lori, Nick and Jody from the WBA Office for another well-organized and informative WBA Agricultural Bankers Conference.

The conference opened with Steve Apodaca, American Bankers Association. Steve detailed the banking industry and issues on a national level. He covered topics that included: regulations, the Farm Bill, farm banks performance, farm credit and credit unions, ABA advocacy and new initiatives. 

Leah H. Ziemba – Attorney and Chair of the Agribusiness, Food & Beverage Industry Team at the Law Office of Michel Best, had a very good presentation on environmental regulatory issues. Her topics included: agriculture and environmental regulation in the Trump administration and 115th Congress, state and federal citizen enforcement issues, state regulatory issues and insurance consideration. 

Dairy and dairy-related topics are always a must at the conference, and we were fortunate enough to be able to have Dr. Marin Bozic – Dairy Expert from the University of Minnesota, speak to the group. Dr. Bozic brought up-to-date statistics and gave a very insightful presentation on the dairy industry at a state, national and global level.

Doug Lund from FSA was back this year and shared his thoughts on what's happening at FSA. He feels that ag economy and ag finance industry are in a very familiar place, as his presentation was titled: "Good old days are here again." He went on to say that FSA remains committed to working with farmers and ag bankers.

Mike Semmann and Jon Turke from WBA addressed the group and gave an update on what they are seeing and hearing about banking, ag and economic issues at a state level. 

The afternoon session continued with Michael Irgang from Global Risk Management Corporation. Mr. Irgang discussed: Commodity Market Volatility, Futures & Options, Commodity Volatility & Loan Quality and Benefits of a Disciplined Commodity Risk Management Program to Ag Lender & Borrowers. 

The final session for day one was presented by Marieke Penterman. Marieke delivered a wonderful story about her families travels from Holland to the U.S. and her Gouda cheese business, for which she has won several recent awards. I have to say, the cheese was as good as her story!

Day two of the conference was headlined by the ever popular Dr. David Kohl – Virginia Tech. Dr. Kohl moderated a Panel Discussion: Alpha Pup Farmers. These successful young farmers discussed their operations and how they use technology, market their production, business/farm objectives and what they think about their banker. Following the panel discussion, Dr. Kohl delivered his current thoughts and experiences on the ag finance industry and what he is seeing for all of us in the future.

Overall, a very good conference and I am glad that I was able to attend.

Brueggen is loan officer at the Bank of Cashton and a member of the 2016-2017 WBA Agricultural Bankers Section Board.