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Agricultural Bankers Conference: Industry leaders gather to support and promote agricultural banking 

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The Wyoming Bankers Association (WBA) serves as the professional and trade organization supporting commercial and savings banks in Wyoming.

On May 16-17, WBA hosted its 2024 Agriculture Bankers Conference held at the Bomber Mountain Civic Center in Buffalo.

Each year during the conference, WBA provides first-class educational opportunities, while promoting Wyoming agriculture and its rural communities. 

From federal farm policy updates and crop and livestock market reports to best management practices for ag industry leaders, this conference provides information and knowledge sought by the modern agricultural lender.

During the convention, attendees had the opportunity to visit with multiple vendors, tour the Mountain Meadow Wool Mill or the Historic Occidental Hotel and hear from various presenters including DayWeather, Inc. President and Meteorologist Don Day, Jr. and Congresswoman Harriet Hageman (R-WY). 

“WBA appreciates the support of our vendors and sponsors to our annual ag conference,” stated WBA President and Chief Executive Officer Scott Meier. “By all accounts, this year’s conference was an enormous success, both from an attendance standpoint as well as from a speaker lineup. It definitely raises the bar for next year.”

Closing out the two-day event, DV Auction Commercial Cattle Manager and Livestock Market Analyst Corbitt Wall provided convention guests with a market analysis of fed cattle.

Issues facing ag lenders

Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) Senior Vice President of Agriculture and Rural Policy Mark Scanlan provided an overview of agriculture policy issues facing ag lenders.

Scanlan has more than 30 years of agricultural policy experience and serves as the secretary for ICBA’s Agriculture-Rural America Committee, which includes agricultural bankers from virtually every geographic region in the U.S.

“In the last six or seven months, there’s been about 5,000 pages of new regulations,” Scanlan stated. “Key ag policy issues impacting bankers for years to come include the farm bill, farm credit systems, AgPay Xpress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Express Loan Act.”

The USDA Express Loan Act would enable the Farm Service Agency to issue ownership and operating loan guarantees up to $1 million within 36 hours of the lender signing off on the loan, eliminating lengthy wait times for their farmer and rancher customers. 

In exchange for the expedited approval, lenders would receive a reduced guarantee on these loans of 50 to 75 percent once they make a credit determination.

He added, “ICBA testified before Congress on the proposal earlier this year, testifying before the Senate Agriculture Committee’s subcommittee on commodities. Verlin “Gus” Barker of First Community Bank in Newell, Iowa testified the ICBA-proposed USDA express program would improve access to timely credit for family farmers and ranchers.”

Educational opportunities

Abrigo Senior Advisor Rob Newberry discussed stress testing ag loan portfolios and how to recognize margin of error in credit risk.

“Understanding different stress testing methods and how those results impact a financial institution’s capital ratios is key,” Newberry stated, “How much can one lose in a loan portfolio before capital becomes an issue?”

In this session, he reviewed recent ag loan performance trends and the definition of concentrations and discussed some common practices used to effectively assign risk to ag loans.

Returning presenter Bell Bank Senior Vice President and Director of Agribusiness Development Lynn Paulson recapped factors influencing the future outlook of agriculture, including margin compression, commodity prices, interest rates and crop insurance.

Following Paulson, MountainWest Valuations, LLC Certified General Appraiser Steve Hickstein conducted an open question and answer session in which the audience asked questions focused on agricultural properties. 

Hickstein also discussed several topics related to agricultural appraisal practices, including state and federal grazing leases, surface compensation from energy production, recreational properties and agricultural land transitioning to other use.

RanchRight, LLC Owner John Haskell offered livestock asset management strategies to improve ranch profitability. 

“Many ranches’ livestock assets represent a large and volatile store of value, and learning how to manage the value of the asset and convert volatility into cash flow presents many opportunities for ranchers,” Haskell said. “Understanding these strategies is important for bankers to significantly increase cash and profitability for their customer.”

Conservation easements

Agricultural producers face continued challenges, from weather to economic pressures to succession planning, impacting their ability to stay in production.

Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust Executive Director Jessica Crowder offered a tool to assist producers meet their operation, conservation and financial goals – an agricultural conservation easement.

Conservation easements help to maintain working lands, important wildlife habitats and wide-open spaces.

Crowder stated, “We became a 501(c)(3) in 2001 and placed our first conservation easement in Carbon County the same year. Since then, the organization has conserved over 300,000 acres of agricultural land and worked with 92 families.”

State agency

Wyoming Department of Agriculture Director Doug Miyamoto helped close out the 2024 Ag Bankers Conference with an update on producer and consumer protection.

Miyamoto highlighted state programs to protect consumers and talked about the state’s role in agriculture. For instance, Wyoming’s meat processing and the growth the meat industry has placed on the state.

“There’s been a lot of attention in our state meat program since the pandemic,” he said. 

“At the time, under the Federal Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act, we allocated funds to increase the state’s food supply chain security and approved applications to develop their meat processing operations.”

He then explained the different types of meat processing facilities, including federal and state inspected, custom exempt and wild game plants.

“There’s a lot of regulations and compliance involved in operating a meat processing facility, and it can be very expensive as well,” he continued. “We have to make sure our state stays safe and the wholesomeness of the product is equal to federally-inspected quality.”

Recently, Miyamoto called a meeting with Wyoming meat processors to address concerns about the state’s inspection program.

Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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