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We are excited to offer a variety of educational workshops to aid attendees in their professional development & agricultural operations. This year, workshops fall under six tracks:

  • Business & Rural Development
  • Consumer Engagement
  • Leadership Development
  • Member Engagement
  • Niche Agriculture & Marketing Opportunities
  • Public Policy & Advocacy

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Session 1
1:15-2:00 p.m.

With the invention of the land grant university system in every state in 1796, accessing the science and resources of agricultural research became as easy to learn as going to your local Extension office. However, with the role of Extension changing and the invent of the internet, do you know how best to capitalize on the resources your state land grant university can provide when it comes to knowledge, outreach and research? Let us walk you through the many things available to you that can help you as you prepare for planting season or your next county Farm Bureau event.


Track: Business & Rural Development
Speakers: Emily Buck, Associate Professor, Ohio State University
Julie White, Extension Associate, Mississippi State University Extension

Last year, we shared how animal rights extremist organizations are targeting faith-based organizations and using religion to spread myths and misinformation about animal agriculture. In a follow-up to that popular session, we’ll provide an update on this issue and explain what steps the animal agriculture industry has taken to respond. In this workshop, we will share new resources that farmers and ranchers can use to engage in your own community. You’ll leave with talking points, key messages, letter templates and other tools.


Speakers: Hannah Thompson-Weeman, Vice President of Communications, Animal Agriculture Alliance
Kay Johnson Smith, President and CEO, Animal Agriculture Alliance
Track: Consumer Engagement

Running a farm or ranch can seem like a recipe for conflict - and managing that conflict effectively can be the difference between success and failure. Learn the proven approach to conflict management taught to future Air Force officers at the USAF Officer Training School. Participants in this session will take part in an experiential conflict exercise and learn:

  • The 13 sources and antecedents of conflict
  • The five primary conflict management styles and which one to use when
  • Key situational considerations to managing conflict
  • The four crucial steps to conflict management


Speaker: Major Peter Shinn, Executive Officer, 101st Air and Space Operations Group
Track: Leadership

The Purple Plow Challenge encourages students to research scenarios related to food, hunger and sustainability and build their own prototypes to solve the defined problem. Resources provided for facilitators, students and volunteers are written by teachers, aligned to national learning standards and reviewed by industry experts. You’ll leave with great, free resources to engage middle school classrooms and afterschool programs in your area. Jump in as we build, create and solve together with www.PurplePlowChallenge.org. Are you a 4-H or FFA member, or do you have one at home? Come find out how you can benefit from this program!


Speaker: Angela Mayfield, Education Director, American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture
Track: Member Engagement

Bloggers, dietitians and farmers get on a bus for a three-day tour...No, it's not the start of a joke, it's the start of an attitude-changing influencer farm tour. In this workshop, you'll learn what we've gleaned from hosting three years of influencer farm tours--a three-day bus tour, no less. You'll come away with tips for planning the logistics, getting the right people on the bus, developing a budget, evaluating the program, and finding that partner who can help you pull it all off.


Speakers: Meagan Cramer, Director of Communications & Marketing, Kansas Farm Bureau
Sheridan Wimmer, Communications & Social Media Manager, Kansas Farm Bureau
Track: Niche Agriculture & Marketing Opportunities

An overview of the 2017 Census of Agriculture – capturing a complete picture of American farms, ranches, and those who operate them. Conducted just once every five years and just mailed to millions of U.S. farmers and ranchers in December, the Census of Agriculture provides invaluable data to those who serve farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. The results help shape farm programs and boost services for communities and the industry. This overview will cover additional information about the Census of Agriculture – from its history to what’s new this census. Also discussed will be the outreach and data release timeline, promotion opportunities, partner tools and more.


Speaker: Hubert Hamer, NASS Administrator, USDA
Track: Policy/Advocacy

James Robb, Director of the Livestock Marketing Information Center, will provide an overview of Cattle and Hog markets in the U.S. along with a brief look at competitive meats. Mr. Robb has over 25 years’ experience forecasting prices and production for livestock markets and will offer his unique perspective on the next 1-3 years in these ever-changing markets.


Speaker: James Robb, Director and Senior Agricultural Economist, Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC)
Track: Policy/Advocacy

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Session 2
2:30-3:15 p.m.

Those in agriculture understand that changes in the law can impact businesses the same way changes in market prices can. A change in a state or federal tax law may greatly impact a family’s farm succession plan or estate plan. A court decision may bring new requirements on an operation. This session will provide a fun and educational review of the top 2017 legal decisions that impact agriculture. At the same time, the presenters will give participants an idea of what to be prepared for in 2018. Participants will learn about resources available to aid operators in keeping up with legal changes.


Speakers: Paul Goeringer, Extension Legal Specialist, Department of Agricultural and Resource, University of Maryland
Tiffany Lashmet, Agricultural Law Specialist, Texas Agrilife Extension, Texas A&M
Track: Business & Rural Development

Political ideologies have the power to shift policies around the globe and if unchecked can destabilize even the most robust economies. One of the most highly sought after public speakers on socio-political movements Dr. Jordan Peterson will discuss in plain language the political ideologies being propagated in universities and among tax supported environmental NGOs. This candid discussion will focus on how agriculture historically has been the target of these movements and how farmers can respond to the looming challenges building on the horizon.


Speaker: Jordan Peterson, Professor, The University of Toronto
Moderator: Vance Crowe, Director of Millennial Engagement, Monsanto
Track: Consumer Engagement

Change is (blank). Maybe you said, “Change is hard.” However, not all change is hard. In fact, sometimes we welcome change. Consider marriage or having a child—talk about change! Yet, people sign up for those changes every day. What determines whether a change is resisted and hard or welcomed and easy? In this session, consider change from different perspectives, explore a road map for navigating change, and learn how to help others manage change.


Speaker: Elise Stoddard, Director of Organization Development, American Farm Bureau Federation
Track: Leadership

Behind every successful event, campaign or organization is a team of volunteers that not only had buy-in to the project, but felt included and part of the team. How do you foster those relationships? What do volunteers expect from their experience? And what pitfalls should you avoid along the way? Learn how to keep an ENGAGED group of volunteer leaders, and have them coming back for more.


Speaker: Val Wagner, Vice Chair, Promotion & Education Committee, American Farm Bureau Federation
Track: Member Engagement

Have a retail store or want one? Retail stores can be a fantastic way to tell your story and engage customers in a personal way. Listen as these producers tell their secrets and recommendations on what items to consider when you are setting up your store, schematics, measures of success and more!


Speakers: Sharla Mortimer, Owner, Mortimer Farms
Brandon Whitt, Batey Farms
Carolyn Olson, Organic Farmer, Board Member, Minnesota Farm Bureau
Track: Niche Agriculture & Marketing Opportunities

With another bumper crop in 2017 and increasing production of livestock products, farm income was once again tested in 2017. In response to the prolonged period of low commodity prices, crafting of the 2018 Farm Bill began in earnest in 2017. Dr. Keith Coble, the Giles Distinguished Professor and the Department Head of the Agricultural Economic Department at Mississippi State University and former Chief Economist for Senate Agriculture Committee Republicans, will review the supply and demand fundamentals for major field crops for both U.S. and foreign markets and then discuss how the farm safety net in the 2018 farm bill will help farmers manage price and income risk in these more competitive global markets.


Speaker: Dr. Keith Coble, Giles Distinguished Professor and Department Head, Agricultural Economic Department, Mississippi State University
Track: Policy/Advocacy

This workshop will cover the many trade issues affecting farmers and ranchers for 2018. The direction of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations, the future of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), the pace of market opening talks with China, the opportunities for a trade agreement with Japan and the future of U.S. agricultural trade with the European Union and Great Britain are all critical for the future of agricultural exports and growth of American agriculture.


Track: Policy/Advocacy

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Session 3
3:30-4:15 p.m.

The session examines practical estate and business planning steps that can be utilized to facilitate keeping the farming/ranching business in the family for future generations. Attendees will gain a better understanding of how to identify and address key issues and implement a plan for successful transition, and how to identify common problems and avoid them. Specific topics will include: optimal entity structures; gifting; income tax planning; maintaining step-up basis; asset control and creditor protection; protecting against the impact of divorce; the role of insurance; valuation issues and how tax reform might impact the transition process.


Speakers: Roger McEowen, Kansas Farm Bureau Professor of Agricultural Law and Taxation, Washburn University School of Law
Track: Business & Rural Development

Standard genetic engineering practices have been widely lauded by scientists and agricultural producers, yet despite a phenomenal safety record the public remains concerned. The central reason was poor communications strategies by academics, agricultural industries and ag producers that left a void that backfilled with misinformation. Gene Editing (also “genome editing”) is a revolutionary and relatively new method of genetic engineering of plants and animals. It allows scientists to engineer precise changes in genes that are indiscernible from natural genetics changes. This ability allows scientists to target specific genes for slight alterations, with no collateral effects or additional genetic information from the engineering process itself. These techniques allow scientists to create changes that could be obtained by traditional breeding, only in months rather than years/decades, leading to faster production of new varieties to meet our abundant agricultural challenges. This presentation will discuss the details of the technology as well as methods to effectively communicate it with the public. An understanding of risk and benefit, communicated correctly, will hopefully allow this technology to be deployed faster on the farm, without the tremendous regulatory hurdles and expense experienced by the current genetic engineering methods.


Speakers: Dr. Kevin Folta, Professor and Chairman, Horticultural Sciences Department & Graduate Program in Plant Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Florida
Track: Consumer Engagement

Everybody wants to talk about Millennials. What comes next? It’s time to start talking about Generation Z. Born starting in the mid-90s to early 2000s, this generation is just about ready to start voting and finding jobs. By 2020, this generation will make up 10% of the workforce and will need their own Farm Bureau membership. Learn what research has to say about the characteristics, values and attitudes of a generation and what you can do to attract them to your county Farm Bureau.


Speakers: Elise Stoddard, Director of Organization Development, American Farm Bureau Federation
Lindsay Calvert, Director, Learning & Development, American Farm Bureau Federation
Track: Leadership

This session will include a visual presentation of topics, ideas and solutions to common challenges in hosting safety meetings. There will be audience engagement and a paper take away of 12 safety meeting topics that can be implemented immediately. Topics to be discussed include the frequency and duration of safety meetings, who should be involved, when meetings should occur, what should be discussed at safety meetings and what documentation needs to be kept (and for how long).


Speakers: Jeff Lutz, Safety Coordinator, Washington Farm Bureau
Mollie Lutz, Safety & Risk Manager, JML Services
Track: Member Engagement

Regardless of the agricultural sector you are in, you have all experienced extreme price volatility and perhaps what that price risk exposure could do to your bottom line .... if not managed properly. This workshop will alert you to the types of market risk you face as well as, the markets, products and strategies that can help alleviate your risk. This session will give you an overview of the key concepts that you need to further educate yourself on to be successful in your agricultural business going forward.


Speakers: Richard Jelinek, Vice President Global Education, INTL FCStone Financial
Dave Kurzawski, Senior Broker, INTL FCStone Financial
Track: Policy/Advocacy

The new farm bill likely will cost just shy of $1 trillion over the next 10 years. Included in that amount is about $200 billion worth of funding for programs affecting agriculture – crop insurance, commodity programs, conservation, rural development, livestock programs, research – and the list continues. Come hear “the latest” about the progress in moving forward on the bill.


Track: Policy/Advocacy

Agriculture has been established to help tell the sustainability story of U.S. agriculture and to identify opportunities for continued innovation and improvement. Rod Snyder, president of Field to Market, will provide an overview of positive environmental trends in U.S. crop production over the past thirty-five years, as well as discuss new partnerships between farmers, agribusiness, food and retail companies, conservation groups, and the public sector to address sustainability challenges into the future.


Speaker: Rod Snyder, President, Field to Market:The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture
Track: Public Policy

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Session 4
4:30-5:30 p.m.

Farmers and ranchers love the land they work. Many of us do more for the environment in a week than most people will do in their lifetimes. Author and environmentalist Miriam Horn set out to document exactly how in her book and film “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman.” Both works prove that concern for the world around us knows neither party nor political philosophy. Horn and Farm Bureau members Justin Knopf and Dusty Crary explain how they do well on their properties while doing good for the earth.


Moderator: Miriam Horn, Author; Special Projects, Environmental Defense Fund
Speakers: Dusty Crary, Rancher
Justin Knopf, Farmer
Track: Consumer Engagement

Monday, January 8, 2018

Session 1
8:15-9:00 a.m.

The agricultural industry has made strides when it comes to developing robust human resources programs, policies and protocol. However, we continue to struggle with developing quality supervisors. We empower these men and women to run our farms but spend little time equipping them with the managerial skills to be successful. The reality is, there is much that can be done to empower these individuals but it requires willingness to invest in making deliberate change. Attendees will learn key principles in selecting and training supervisors including soft skill development, team building, planning, time management, conflict resolution, and general leadership.


Speaker: Amy Wolfe, President and CEO, AgSafe
Natalie Gupton, Director of Development, AgSafe
Track: Business & Rural Development

Explore how you could advocate through video marketing. The use of short videos to share messages and stories continues to grow. If you have not already embraced video technologies, then come explore how you could advocate through video marketing. If a picture shares a thousand words – imagine the story you could share through the use of a video. Learn more tips and methods to develop video messaging to incorporate into your social media toolset.


Speaker: Renee McCauley, Member, AFBF P&E Committee
Tom Nugent Director of the Field Operations Division, Michigan Farm Bureau Track: Consumer Engagement

Ninety-two percent of respondents in the 2015 American Farm Women in Ag Survey agree that “there should be more women in leadership roles in the agriculture industry.” However, only 66% agree that they “have the opportunity to lead” those organizations. Outside of the agriculture world, there are more Fortune 500 Company CEOs named John than there are women CEOs. Research shows having women leaders makes business sense. This session will explore what the research says about why there aren’t more women leaders and offer specific applications. All are welcomed and encouraged to join the conversation.


Speaker: Lindsay Calvert, Director, Learning & Development, American Farm Bureau Federation
Madison Taylor, Student, Agricultural Communication and Marketing and International Agricultural Education, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Track: Leadership

Get your hands on the latest edition of “Food and Farm Facts” and discover how you can use this tool to connect with students! We’ll explore the new “Food and Farm Facts” activity cards which provide fun activities to help reinforce educational standards while teaching key information about the agriculture industry. Come ready to play, and you’ll leave with strategies and resources to help tell the story of agriculture.


Speaker: Angela Mayfield, Education Director, American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture
Track: Member Engagement

Roundtable panel discussion on direct marketing tips and tricks that have worked for individual producers. Areas of discussion include CSAs, field trips, labeling issues, and retail stores. Producers will compare and contrast pros and cons of these activities and what challenges or opportunities have worked or not found success.

Stop by early at 7:00 a.m. and meet the members of the AFBF Organic & Direct Marketing Issue Advisory Committee! This event is open to anyone interested in networking with other farmers who are either established or interested in organic farming and direct marketing. BYOC (bring your own coffee).


Speaker: Sharla Mortimer, Owner, Mortimer Farms
Adam Moody, Farmer & Entrepreneur
Amelia Kent, Owner, Kent Farms
Track: Niche Agriculture & Marketing Opportunities

Gene-editing, genomics, genetic engineering, are all the buzz around science, technology, and DNA. Dr. Van Eenennaam is a globally recognized voice on animal genomics and biotechnology. In this workshop she will discuss the current status of gene editing in the livestock sector and the impact of genetics on animal agricultural production. Participants will hear about her cutting edge research in the field of genetics, and have the opportunity to pick her brain about the future of these new animal breeding tools.


Speaker: Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, Cooperative Extension Specialist on Animal Genomics and Biotechnology, Department of Animal Science, University of California, Davis
Track: Policy/Advocacy

James Robb, Director of the Livestock Marketing Information Center, will provide an overview of Cattle and Hog markets in the U.S. along with a brief look at competitive meats. Mr. Robb has over 25 years’ experience forecasting prices and production for livestock markets and will offer his unique perspective on the next 1-3 years in these ever-changing markets.


Speaker: James Robb, Director and Senior Agricultural Economist, Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC)
Track: Policy/Advocacy

Monday, January 8, 2018

Session 2
9:15-10:00 a.m.

Supply chains are demanding more transparency and sustainability from their suppliers, but how does that impact profitability on the farm? In this session, panelists will look at the latest technologies that can serve both masters – improve the sustainability footprint of an operation while also contributing to the bottom line. This session focuses on tips and tools to help you:

  • Track, analyze and improve your resource efficiency
  • Create the sustainability footprint the market is demanding
  • Position your operation to profit from the sustainability trend
  • Preserve these sustainability benefits for your heirs


Speakers: Tommy Jackson, Sustainable Solutions Account Manager, Syngenta
Matt Carstens, Senior Vice President, Land O'Lakes SUSTAIN
Track: Business & Rural Development

Planning for retirement involves a variety of tasks, both financial and non-financial. Assessing one’s readiness to retire is an important first step for farm and ranch families. This session will cover important considerations in the retirement planning process. Participants will be able to determine their personal retirement goals and develop a timeline and action plan for achieving financial security in retirement.


Speaker: Nancy Granovsky, Professor & Extension Family Economics Specialist-Retired, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Track: Business & Rural Development

In 1799, the Rosetta Stone was discovered and it changed our understanding of written language. For the first time in history we were able to translate texts that had been lost in time and it opened windows into our understanding of the past and present. Today we find ourselves in the same position. We have the tools to translate the story of agriculture into consumer friendly language—we just need to take the time to write it down. We will explore the language that we use to communicate with the public. Together we will learn to tell the story of farm families in a way that will engage the public.


Speaker: Jesse Martin, Founder & CEO, MACRA Business Insights
Track: Consumer Engagement

At Farm Bureau, we work to serve members - from advocacy to education to discounts on products and services. For many members, the products provided through Farm Bureau insurance are valuable tools to manage their risks. Together we are 'Ensuring' a strong future. Learn: 1) Successful examples of how state and county Farm Bureaus partner with agents to recruit and retain members; 2) Hear firsthand from the agents who recruited the most new members in Nebraska how they do what they do; and 3) See the support they get from their partners in at the state and county levels.


Speakers: Phil Erdman, Vice President of Membership, Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation
David Duff, Agent, Farm Bureau Financial Services
Armando Vargas, Agent, Farm Bureau Financial Services
Brandon Doke, Agent, Farm Bureau Financial Services
Track: Member Engagement

This roundtable will discuss the challenges and rewards of organic production from a producer perspective. Producers will explain why they transitioned to organic and their journey through the process. This workshop is designed as an interactive session with audience participation.


Speakers: Kristina Watson, Director, Federal Government Affairs, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau
Tom Schwarz, Organic Farmer, Schwarz Family Farm
Carolyn Olson, Organic Farmer, Board Member Minnesota Farm Bureau
Blake Alexandre, Owner & Operator, Alexandre Family Farm
Track: Niche Agriculture & Marketing Opportunities

With another bumper crop in 2017 and increasing production of livestock products, farm income was once again tested in 2017. In response to the prolonged period of low commodity prices, crafting of the 2018 Farm Bill began in earnest in 2017. Dr. Keith Coble, the Giles Distinguished Professor and the Department Head of the Agricultural Economic Department at Mississippi State University and former Chief Economist for Senate Agriculture Committee Republicans, will review the supply and demand fundamentals for major field crops for both U.S. and foreign markets and then discuss how the farm safety net in the 2018 farm bill will help farmers manage price and income risk in these more competitive global markets.


Speaker: Dr. Keith Coble, Giles Distinguished Professor and Department Head, Agricultural Economic Department, Mississippi State University
Track: Policy/Advocacy

Learn what is being done to combat the ever increasing number of burdensome government regulations and their control over nearly every aspect of our daily lives. Come learn from leading Pacific Legal Foundation attorneys about current and important legal challenges to protect your private property and constitutional rights and ensure a balanced approach to environmental regulation.


Speaker: Tony Francois, Senior Attorney, Pacific Legal Foundation
Track: Policy/Advocacy

Monday, January 8, 2018

Session 3
10:15-11:00 a.m.

The health and economic vitality of farm enterprises and farm families is affected by access to health care. Farmers make decisions about health insurance as individuals and as employers. Hear what farmers have to say about the way health care and insurance costs affect risk management, enterprise growth, workforce vitality, succession planning and efforts to grow the next generation of young farmers. Take home tools to incorporate health insurance and health care into farm business and risk management decision-making. We'll present research results and tools from the national “Health Insurance Rural Economic Development and Agriculture” (HIREDnAg.net) project funded by USDA-AFRI.


Speakers: Shoshanah Inwood, Assistant Professor, The Ohio State University
Alana Knudson, Co-Director of the Walsh Center for Rural Health Analysis, NORC
Track: Business & Rural Development

Have you optimized your estate plan by incorporating the five necessary elements? Just missing one of these easy to remember elements in the planning process could be a very costly mistake. Learn what these key elements are and why they are essential for developing and executing a successful estate plan.


Speaker: Steve Hamilton, Technical Director, Advanced Consulting Group, Nationwide
Track: Business & Rural Development

Michelle Miller, the Farm Babe, is one of commercial Agriculture's biggest voices working to bridge the gap between farmers and consumers. With 60,000 social media followers, her messages have been shared with tens of millions of people all around the world. Michelle has made a name for herself as a social media expert and will share her tips on how to further spread the word of Agriculture to the general public by giving listeners the tools they need to become their own AGvocates. For more information and to hear Michelle's story, visit www.thefarmbabe.com.


Speaker: Michelle Miller, Founder, Farm Babe
Track: Consumer Engagement

Look, any team can be great once. But success in the farming and agribusiness industry isn’t built on fluke excellence or isolated great performances. The best teams, the best organizations, are those that are able to sustain high levels of performance year after year. To do that, it requires that farmer leaders and agribusiness professionals understand and implement three crucial keys: one, that cultivating organizational, team, and individual identity is often the biggest determinant in hiring, retention, and engagement success. Two, that low performance, decreasing morale, and poisonous cultures are usually created by and evident in areas often viewed as “inconsequential.” Three, that continued excellence requires an unwavering attack on complacency at every level. Not only does this presentation address all three keys in more detail, it provides the tangible takeaways to begin making a significant difference immediately at work. At the conclusion of this presentation, the attendees will:

  • Understand why creating and solidifying organization, team and individual identity is the first foundation in hiring, retention, productivity, and engagement 
  • Recognize and identify the unspoken reasons for declining morale and culture, and learn how to create a more positive and productive environment
  • Learn how to drive a sustainable, engaged workforce and elevate productivity across the organization by pursuing activities and results that lie outside current comfort zones


Speaker: Pete Smith, President, SmithImpact
Track: Leadership

As a board member of a county or state Farm Bureau, you’ve got an important job. Come learn what’s expected of you and how you can contribute your best to the organization. This session is designed for newer board members, but seasoned leaders looking for a refresher are welcome too.


Speakers: Lindsay Calvert, Director, Learning & Development, American Farm Bureau Federation
Elise Stoddard, Director of Organization Development, American Farm Bureau Federation
Track: Member Engagement

The new farm bill likely will cost just shy of $1 trillion over the next 10 years. Included in that amount is about $200 billion worth of funding for programs affecting agriculture – crop insurance, commodity programs, conservation, rural development, livestock programs, research – and the list continues. Come hear “the latest” about the progress in moving forward on the bill.


Track: Policy/Advocacy

In this session, participants will learn strategies to become stronger, more effective advocates and learn “success story” methods that influence the opinions and decisions of people, decision makers, and organizations. Objectives:

  • Learn Strategies to employ grassroots advocacy and expand your influence
  • Learn how to become a stronger more effective advocate
  • Learn techniques to prepare for that “5 minute” elevator speech that leads to telling your story
  • Learn why it is important to tell your story


Speaker: Teresa Lindberg, Agriscience Teacher, Greensville County Public Schools
Track: Policy/Advocacy

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