Simmons Bank hosted its third annual Simmons Agri Summit on Feb. 1 with nearly 300 farmers, producers, and farm-related business owners gathering at the White Hall Community Center in Jefferson County to network and participate in sessions focused on the current economic landscape, what to expect from the 2018 Farm Bill, and scientific developments impacting the agriculture industry.

“The agriculture summit is a way to grow our business and help our farmers to do better. The conference was created as an additional resource. We try to bring in guest speakers on topics that are timely and important to farmers. Agriculture is a big part of our business and we finance farmers all over the state,” said Freddie Black, Arkansas Regional Chairman for Simmons Bank.

The free conference included featured speakers David Kohl, president of AgriVisions and Professor Emeritus in Agriculture Economics at Virginia Tech, Jay Mahaffey, manager of Monsanto’s Scott Learning Center in Mississippi, and attorney David Bridgforth of Ramsay, Bridgforth, Harrelson, and Starling.

Kohl spoke on the economics of agriculture, management, and financial techniques that are important in navigating the industry. He discussed how international trade will be very critical to the agriculture community.

“One in five dollars come from exports, so when you start looking at cotton and soybeans, you see they are very, very critical to the economic development,” said Kohl.

Kohl then discussed how farmers should expect for the interest rates to increase.

“In the agriculture industry, we have been accustomed to low interest rates or no interest rate changes, but now producers are going to have to start looking at interest rates if they have a variable interest with banks or farm credits since that will impact businesses,” he said.

Kohl also stated that now is a great time for young people to enter into the field of agriculture.

“World economic growth is taking off, the U.S. economy is doing pretty well right now and costs are low, which provides an opportunity for young people to get involved in agriculture,” he said. Kohl went on to discuss killers of economic expansion, land value resilience, proactive producers, bottom producers, top management views from farmers and ranchers, and practices of successful farmers and ranchers.

When asked the most important thing he wanted guests to leave with Kohl answered, “I want them to walk away from here today asking themselves: what are three ways we can become five percent better, whether it’s in production, farming, or cost management, that will give us the competitive edge?”

Jay Mahaffey focused on advanced biotechnology, good argonomic techniques and products to use on crops. “When you’re getting ready to plant a crop, there are certain things you have to do in preparation,” said Mahaffey. He explored those decisions and shared that information with the guests.

David R. Bridgforth educated guests about provisions, costs, and new programs that will be implemented with the 2018 Farm Bill.

“It is encouraging to have seen familiar faces again this year,” said Black, according to a press release. “We are here for our clients every day and enjoy spending this time together at the Agri Summit each year.”

According to the press release, Simmons Bank is an Arkansas state-chartered bank that began as a community bank in 1903. Through the decades, Simmons has developed a full suite of financial products and services designed to meet the needs of individual consumers and business customers alike. Simmons has grown steadily to approximately $9.1 billion in assets with 150 branch locations throughout Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Tennessee. Simmons is the subsidiary bank for Simmons First National Corporation (NASDAQ: SFNC), a publicly traded bank holding company headquartered in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. For more information, visit