Curt Covington, senior vice president and credit risk manager of the Ag and Rural Banking Division of Bank of the West in Fresno, Calif., has been elected chairman of the American Bankers Association’s Agriculture and Rural Bankers Committee for the 2009-2010 association year.

Covington has 29 years of agricultural banking experience and is responsible for managing the risk of a $3.5 billion agriculture-agribusiness loan portfolio. He is also a member of the Agricultural Lenders Society of California and co-chairs its education and training program called The Agricultural Lending Institute.

“The undeniable truth is none of us will ever fully appreciate the privilege and opportunity of working with the American farmer until we are willing to assume the grand responsibility that comes with it,” said Covington, while speaking to more than 415 bankers attending ABA’s National Agricultural Bankers Conference in San Antonio this week.

“Now perhaps more than ever, we need to instill and build confidence with the farm community through our actions and efforts. That is our great challenge.”

Covington holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Southern California and a master’s degree in agribusiness from Santa Clara University. Since 1984, he has served as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Agricultural Economics at California State University in Fresno teaching managerial accounting and finance classes.