ABA: Top Ag Banking Awards Go to Indiana Banker and Kansas Ag Professor

WASHINGTON — The American Bankers Association today announced the recipients of both the Bruning and Blanchfield Awards, the association’s premier awards presented for contributions to agricultural banking. Gene Miles, president and CEO of First Farmers Bank and Trust Company, Converse, Ind., will receive the Bruning Award, and Kansas State University ag economics emeritus professor Barry Flinchbaugh will be given the Blanchfield Award. Both awards will be presented at the ABA National Agricultural Bankers Conference, Nov. 13-16 in Indianapolis.
“We are delighted to present these prestigious awards to Gene and Barry,” said Steve Apodaca, senior vice president, ABA’s Center for Agricultural and Rural Banking. “Gene’s dedication to ag banking as well as his community set a great example for bankers across the country. Barry’s depth of knowledge and unique style have made him a highly recognized expert in the ag community.”
Miles is receiving the Bruning Award for his leadership and outstanding dedication to providing credit and financial guidance to farmers and businesses in rural America. He has been an agricultural banker for more than 35 years, serving in nearly every capacity within the institution and leading through volunteer service.
Miles has nurtured and grown First Farmers Bank and Trust Company through vision, foresight and old-fashioned values. Several years ago, recognizing that agricultural banking opportunities extended beyond state borders, he led a strategic decision to grow the bank through acquisitions into neighboring Illinois. The result was abundant growth: First Farmers Bank and Trust now employs nearly 400 people in Indiana and Illinois, and serves more than 50,000 clients, all while remaining headquartered in an Indiana town of less than 1,250 residents.
He also is deeply engaged in the community, with outreach including volunteer leadership positions with St. Vincent Hospital, the Miami County Community Foundation, the Northern Indiana Community Foundation and the Miami County Economic Development Committee.
Miles was raised on an Indiana corn, soybean and livestock farm, working alongside his father and grandfather. He and his wife Cheryl have three grown children.
Now in its second year, the Blanchfield Award recognizes the contributions of a non-banker who has made significant contributions to the advancement of agricultural lending. Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh, recipient of the Blanchfield Award, is a professor of agricultural economics at Kansas State University and a leading national expert on agricultural policy and economics.
Flinchbaugh joined Kansas State University in 1971 where he has received the Outstanding Teacher Award on three different occasions. Over the course of his career, he has served on numerous national task forces, boards of directors, and advisory groups influencing food and agriculture policy in the U.S.
Due to his legendary ability to simultaneously inform and entertain, Flinchbaugh has been a popular speaker at ABA’s National Agricultural Bankers Conference for decades. He receives about 100 speaking invitations per year and is the author of more than 100 publications including an agricultural policy textbook.
A native of York, Pennsylvania, Flinchbaugh holds a B.S. in animal science and an M.S. in agricultural economics from Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from Purdue University. Flinchbaugh and his wife Catherine, a 1969 KSU graduate, are the parents of two sons and a daughter.