The theme of the 2022 USPOULTRY Financial Management seminar can be summed up in two words: “Be smart.” Speakers and panelists shared their experiences, highlighting the dangers of normal interactions being portrayed in a disreputable light, the importance of implementing and maintaining robust information technology protections and identifying and preventing fraud through internal controls. An economic update was also offered, along with many other topics.

Jim Herbison, attorney-at-law with Winston & Strawn LPP, presented on recent activity in the corporate governance and antitrust fields. He noted the increase in activity in these fields, enabled by a two- or three-fold increase in prosecutorial funding, along with the current administration’s focus on antitrust cases. His presentation centered on the fact that people typically do not set out to engage in criminal conduct, instead accidentally or unknowingly breaking the law or creating an opportunity for criminal conduct to be inferred. Key takeaways from Herbison’s presentation were the need to fully disclose potential conflicts of interest, abide by policies on entertainment and gifts and be aware of the information coming into a company, not just what is going out.

Trey Stokes, associate director of the Alliant Group, spoke on cyber security threats and mitigation. He emphasized that, “IT is not just, ‘what my IT guy does.’” Stokes stressed that cyber security is a topic that needs to be managed in the board room, not the server room, to ensure that company objectives are aligned and that appropriate measures are in place to ensure data security. He also addressed the importance of cyber security in the transition of remote workers back to the office after being on potentially unsecure networks for two years. 

An update on the overall state of the economy was provided by Dr. Michael Swanson, lead economist of Wells Fargo. By examining various economic indicators, he said it was difficult to make an argument that there is a recession. On the subject of food inflation, Swanson noted that over the past 50 years, food has gotten substantially cheaper, with year-over-year inflation for many animal products running at less than 2%. The current meat and poultry inflation rate around 10% is a shock to consumers, but food is still comparatively cheap. Swanson concluded with the reassuring forecast that if there is a recession, it likely will not mean a recession for agriculture.

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TJ Boyle, audit partner of Frost PLLC, discussed lease accounting where he focused on the importance of robust internal controls to prevent fraud. He highlighted several areas that are most susceptible to fraud, including management override of controls and operations accounting. He also cautioned that the process during which new vendors or customers are established could be an avenue for fraud if adequate controls are not in place. Given enough time, Boyle said, a fraud will take place. However, the key is limiting the damage done through quick detection. 

USPOULTRY is registered with the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy (NASBA) as a sponsor of continuing professional education on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. Up to 12.5 CPE credits may be awarded to seminar attendees. State boards of accountancy have final authority on the acceptance of individual courses for CPE credit.