Date(s) - September 5, 2023
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm


The first in a series of five competitive event training Zooms will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 5 at 8 p.m. This training will take a deep dive into Discussion Meet questions 1 and 2 with subject matter experts Veronica Bruckhoff, Vice President of Ag Banking and Business Development at Profinium Financial; Lee Crawford, Minnesota Farm Loan Chief for USDA-FSA; Melissa Durrant, Idaho State Representative and Carley Esser, professional staff for the U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.

On the call, experts will share their knowledge on the following questions:
  • Production agriculture requires a lot of capital. Young farmers and ranchers face challenges gaining access to the capital they need to start or grow their operations. What tools are currently available, and what new programs could be introduced, to help young people access financial resources—and make sound financial decisions—to run their farms and ranches?
  • Working with elected officials, in all levels of government, is critical to advancing public policy that supports farmers and ranchers. How can Farm Bureau help elected leaders better understand the challenges of the agriculture sector and the importance of supporting the financial viability of America’s family farms and ranches?

Veronica Bruckhoff currently serves as the Vice President of Ag Banking and Business Development for Profinium Financial. Veronica grew up on a 5th generation hog and crop farm in Minnesota before attending South Dakota State University. Prior to starting at Profinium seven years ago, Veronica worked for the Minnesota Soybean Growers Association and the Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council where she worked with producers across the state on legislative concerns and led soybean research, promotion and education projects for the soybean checkoff.

Lee Crawford grew up on a diversified hog, beef and crop farm in northeast Iowa and has been working in lending with USDA-Farm Service Agency for 33 years, including four years as a Farm Loan Officer in various locations, then 15 years as a Farm Loan Manager, 12 years as a County Executive Director and is currently serving as the Minnesota Farm Service Agency Farm Loan Chief in St. Paul, MN since the Fall of 2021.

Melissa Durrant is currently serving her first term in the Idaho State House of Representatives. She serves on the House Revenue and Taxation Committee and the Resources and Conservation Committee. Melissa has been married to her husband, Neil, for 17 years, and they have four children. Melissa and Neil have been very active in Farm Bureau at many levels, including serving together for six years on Idaho’s Young Farmers & Ranchers committee, two of which Melissa served as the state chair. They also served on the AFBF Young Farmers & Ranchers Committee. Melissa is currently attending Yeshiva University where she is working on a Master’s in Speech Language Pathology.

Carley Esser currently serves as a professional staff member for the U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee under Ranking Member John Boozman of Arkansas. She leads the Title I commodity programs, disaster programs and crop insurance portfolios. Formerly, Esser was the senior legislative assistant for Missouri Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, where she handled the agriculture committee portfolio in addition to trade, energy, environment, education, foreign aid, transportation and infrastructure policy portfolios since 2018. Esser graduated with a degree in Agricultural Education from the University of Missouri where she was able to work with agriculturalists across her home state.