WBA Members testify at recent field hearing.
Pictured (left to right): John Smith, Town Bank, Milwaukee, and Sam Miller, BMO Harris Bank, Milwaukee

On Thursday, April 25, 2019, Congressman Bryan Steil held a field hearing in Burlington with the United States Department of Agriculture, the Small Business Administration, and select invited guests from the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Wisconsin Dairy Alliance, and local ag producers. 

Steil, who represents Racine County in Congress, brought representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Small Business Administration, a federal agency charged with providing support to small businesses, with him to hear testimony about Wisconsin’s ag economy.

Rep. Steil invited two bankers to make remarks at the hearing, Sam Miller, Managing Director for Agriculture Banking at BMO and John Smith, Senior Ag Lending Officer with Town Bank. According to Miller, the dynamics of the ag industry in the US have changed from a domestic-based market to an internationally supported market and exports are the way out the current ag situation for Wisconsin farmers. Smith added that some farmers are running out of options for capital and cash flow and are left to rely upon real estate equity.

“I wanted to make sure the invited agencies got the benefit of information we received today,” Steil said. “That they’re able to use that information to make better policy in Washington.”

In addition to the state of Wisconsin’s ag industry, the panel also talked about the United States, Mexico, Canada Free Trade Agreement (USMCA), which was recently evaluated by the International Trade Commission and is currently making its way through the halls of Congress.

“Wisconsin dairy products are sought after, not only throughout the nation as the highest quality available, they’re sought after worldwide,” according to local farmer John Scott said. “We are invested in exports and we need Congress to invest in us.”

Congressman Steil serves on the House Financial Services Committee and sits on the Subcommittees on Housing, Community Development, and Insurance, Oversight and Investigations, and Diversity and Inclusion.