Nebraska Banker, Purdue Professor Receive Top Ag Banking Awards


Source: American Bankers Association news release

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. ABA will honor Fred Bruning, CEO of Bruning State Bank, Bruning, Neb., with the Bruning Award, and Purdue University ag economics Professor Emeritus Freddie Barnard with the Blanchfield Award at the ABA National Agricultural Bankers Conference, Nov. 11-14 in Omaha, Neb.

Bruning Award: Fred Bruning
Named after Nebraska banker Frank Bruning-Fred Bruning’s father and the first recipient 21 years ago-the Bruning Award recognizes the lifetime achievement of individuals for their leadership and outstanding dedication to providing credit and financial guidance to farmers, ranchers and businesses in rural America.

“When Frank, my dad, received this award years ago, it was very special for him, our family and the bank, especially because it was named after him,” said Bruning. “I am humbled that I get to follow in his footsteps and honored to be part of the group of bankers who have received the Bruning Award.”

Bruning is a fourth-generation banker serving at his family-owned, ag-focused bank for the past 27 years, but his contributions to agricultural banking reach far beyond serving the communities around Bruning, Neb. One of his most notable accomplishments, the creation of the ag banking and finance major at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, has resulted in more young people getting into ag banking. In addition to the major, Bruning worked with his staff, the university and the Nebraska Bankers Association to create a scholarship fund and internship program.

“Sixty-five percent of the kids who have gone through that program have returned to work at a rural bank in Nebraska,” said Bruning. “There is an enormous opportunity for young people to get into banking right now, and we’re finding ways to make that happen.”

Bruning’s career is filled with noteworthy accomplishments at both the local and national level. He was a founding member of the Farmers & Ranchers College, an annual education program supported by the University of Nebraska Lincoln Cooperative Extension. He has been a Nebraska LEAD fellow, a member of the USDA Task Force on Ag Policy and Rural Development, and a board member of the Nebraska Community Foundation. Currently, he is president of the Bruning Community Foundation, which fostered the development of a new library, fitness center, fire hall and several main street businesses.

Bruning earned a bachelor’s degree in ag economics and animal science from the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Before becoming a banker, he worked on the family farm near Bruning, Neb. He and his wife, Penni, have three children and two grandchildren.

Blanchfield Award: Dr. Freddie Barnard
Now in its fourth year, the ABA Blanchfield Award recognizes the contributions of a non-banker who has made significant contributions to the advancement of agricultural lending. Dr. Freddie Barnard, this year’s recipient, is professor emeritus of agricultural economics at Purdue University.

“I am both honored and humbled to receive the Blanchfield Award because it represents qualities I hold dear; such as, dedication, commitment and member interaction,” said Barnard. “In addition, it is presented by an organization I have thoroughly enjoyed working with over the years and on behalf of people I call my friends. It is humbling to be included in a list of winners-John Blanchfield, Dave Kohl and Barry Flinchbaugh-who I consider the best of the best in our industry.”

Barnard joined the Purdue faculty in 1982 at the beginning of the farm crisis. That experience shaped his extension, teaching and research programs for the remainder of his career.

He taught agribusiness management to more than 4,000 students from Fall of 1995 until Spring of 2018, and was the lead author of the textbook Agribusiness Management, adopted by 34 educational institutions.

During his career, Barnard has spoken at more than 900 conferences, workshops and schools, attended by more than 46,000 agricultural lenders, producers and business managers. He served as director for the Midwest Agricultural Banking School for 36 years and coordinated the annual Indiana Bankers Agricultural Clinic and Advanced Agricultural Credit Workshop. He was one of the original members of the Farm Financial Standards Council, founded in 1989 to provide financial and managerial accounting recommendations for agricultural businesses. He also served as secretary/treasurer for the Indiana Chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers from 1999 until 2018.

He has received numerous honors and awards including the Hovde Award for outstanding service to the people of the state of Indiana, induction into Purdue’s Book of Great Teachers and the Gold Quill award three times for outstanding articles published in the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers Journal.

He retired from the Army National Guard and Reserves in 1998 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after 23 years of service. Barnard holds a B.S. and an M.S. in agricultural economics from the University of Kentucky and a Ph.D. in agricultural finance from the University of Illinois.
He and his wife, Shirley, have three children, Jared, Mathew and Veronica.

The American Bankers Association is the voice of the nation’s $17 trillion banking industry, which is composed of small, regional and large banks that together employ more than 2 million people, safeguard $13 trillion in deposits and extend nearly $10 trillion in loans. Learn more at


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