Top ag banking award goes to Wisconsin banker

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The American Bankers Association Center for Agricultural and Rural Banking will present Wisconsin banker Samuel J. Miller with its annual Bruning Award for his leadership and outstanding dedication to providing credit and financial guidance to farmers, ranchers and businesses in rural America. 

The award will be presented at the ABA National Agricultural Bankers Conference in Minneapolis on Nov. 12. Miller has been an agricultural banker for 30 years and is currently the managing director and head, Agriculture, BMO Harris Bank, which is a top ten agriculture bank in the United States. Miller manages a team of bankers and is responsible for the oversight of BMO’s U.S. agriculture portfolio.

“The most rewarding part of my career has been serving customers who are providing food and fiber for consumers both domestic and international,” said Miller. “Agricultural banking combines the best of art and science. There are the spreadsheets, programs and tools to measure and assess, but there’s still a great amount of art left in the business. Recognizing and understanding the cycles of agriculture and helping farmers navigate through the good times and more challenging periods, remain fundamental to the business.”

Miller’s career is marked by many years of service to the industry having served as chairman of the ABA Agricultural and Rural Bankers Committee, a board member of the Wisconsin Dairy 2020 Council, treasurer and board member of the Dairy Business Innovation Center, and monthly columnist for Wisconsin Agriculturalist magazine.

He has also been actively involved in agricultural education as school director for the Wisconsin Bankers Advanced Agricultural Banking School, a faculty instructor at the National School for Experienced Ag Lenders, president and board member of the Wisconsin Agricultural and Life Sciences Alumni Association at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a member of the University of Wisconsin College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Board of Visitors.

Miller sees a bright future in agricultural finance while recognizing potential challenges. “Worldwide the population is growing and the standard of living is improving,” he said. “There is a bright future for agricultural business, but navigating this upward trend during periods of international volatility and uncertain trade flows remains a challenge.”

Miller grew up on a farm in Wisconsin north of Madison. He earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Miller was interested in the financial side of agriculture and liked the idea of providing financing to farmers, which led to a career in agricultural banking.

Miller lives in Appleton, Wis. with his wife, Nadine. The couple has two adult daughters. In his free time, Miller is a sports fan and likes to play golf. Most of all, he enjoys traveling and spending time with his family.

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