Here are a few of the speakers and presentations we already have lined up for you:

What’s driving agriculture in the year ahead?

Mike PearsonMike Pearson, farmer, broadcaster, co-host, Ag News Daily

Mike Pearson was raised in south central Iowa and attended Simpson College, where he majored in History and continued to run the family farm south of Winterset, Iowa.  After graduation, he moved to Grinnell, Iowa, where he lives with his wife, Heidi. Farmer, broadcaster, and former banker, Mike keeps viewers informed on agricultural issues as co-host of the daily podcast Ag News Daily with over 6,000 listeners each month. He is the former host of Iowa Public Television’s Market to Market weekly television show.

Up close and personal: the expert shares his own farm transition story

Dick Wittman, rancher, farm management consultant

Financial consultant and Idaho rancher Dick Wittman will make a special presentation at the 2018 summit. For years Wittman has been helping farmers solve problems associated with passing the farm to the next generation. Now, in a never-before-seen presentation, he will share with summit-goers the challenges of implementing his own advice working through transition on his own farm. You’ll hear the pluses and the negatives in intimate detail as his daughter and other family members transition into lead manager roles. It’s a session that is sure to be both moving and informative.

Developing an effective farm board 

As farms transition through multiple generations, the distinction between operations management and ownership involvement becomes more important.  In these transitions, it can be helpful to put clarity into the role of an owner board, and how senior members transition to board chair/mentor roles.  This transition raises many questions like how should the farm’s board be structured and who is on the board? Who sets policies and strategic plans? How often do you meet and what should be on a board agenda?  How do reporting and accountability relationships change?  Get help on this important farm function from rancher and consultant Dick Wittman, who will share tips from his own as well as client experiences.


Our Washington insider shares the latest on trade, policy, farm bill

Roger BernardRoger Bernard, ag policy analyst, Informa

Want to find out how Capitol Hill will impact your business this year? Get the inside scoop from Roger Bernard, ag policy analyst with Informa (Farm Futures’ parent company). In his first appearance at the Farm Futures Business Summit, Bernard will share insights on ag trade, energy, farm policy, and the 2018 Farm Bill.

Bernard joined Informa in April 2011 with nearly 30 years of experience in print and broadcast journalism. Prior to joining Informa, Bernard spent over 24 years with Pro Farmer Newsletter, including 11 years in Washington, D.C. This is one session you don’t want to miss.


Money matters: Inside the Fed, inflation and interest rates

Nate KauffmanNate Kauffman, Assistant Vice President and Omaha Branch Executive

Economist Nate Kauffman will share advice from his viewpoint as an ag specialist and vice president at the Kansas City Federal Reserve. Kauffman is an expert at explaining money policy, interest rates, inflation and ag lending. He will share what he has learned in his role overseeing several Bank and Federal Reserve System efforts to track agricultural and rural economies.

Kauffman joined the Federal Reserve in 2012. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Iowa State University.


Global grain markets: turning a corner, or duck and cover?

Bryce KnorrBryce Knorr, Senior market analyst, Farm Futures

Bryce Knorr, Farm Futures’ senior market analyst and one of the world’s leading authorities on grain markets, will offer his insights on where markets are headed. Are they turning a corner, or just rolling over? He will discuss key areas to watch for potential game-changing developments. In a separate session Knorr will discuss pricing strategies for both new and old crops.

Knorr has been associated with the magazine for 20 years.  He was the senior market analyst for CyberCrop.com, where he helped build the first online grain marketing Internet sites for farmers.  In his current role, Knorr writes daily and monthly market analysis for readers and web browsers at  FarmFutures.com.  He also conducts survey research into a variety of management topics, including secrets of success.


Can we all get along? Farmers, consumers, activists and the food industry

Joe KossJoe Koss, President & CEO, Culvers

Joe Koss took over the reins of Culvers in 2016 and continued the company’s staunch support of U.S. agriculture in its marketing activities. Not every food retailer has been so supportive of U.S. agriculture or modern farming methods. For the first time at any Farm Futures event you will hear the inside story of Culver’s commitment to agriculture and the American farmer from one of the food industry’s leading players.

Koss joined Culvers in 1997 as controller. Since 2000 he held the role of chief financial officer and was named president and CEO in December 2016. During Mr. Koss’s tenure the Culver’s system has grown from 53 restaurants with system-wide sales increasing from $58 million to over $1.2 billion.


Seeing red: How China influences your grain, livestock prices

Wendong ZhangWendong Zhang, ag economics professor, extension specialist, Iowa State University

It’s not often we get to hear from an expert authority on China who actually grew up there. Dr. Wendong Zhang is an expert authority on farmland and Chinese agriculture and trade. With 62% of U.S. exported soybean going to China, its importance to U.S. agriculture cannot be overstated. Through this presentation, you will understand what is really going on in the Chinese agricultural economy and the implications for America’s crop and livestock industry. He will discuss China’s corn policy reforms, the U.S.-China agreement to allow U.S. beef and rice exports into China, and the drivers behind Chinese demand for international ag trade.

Dr. Zhang earned his Ph.D in Agricultural, environmental and Development Economics from The Ohio State University in 2015.


Learn the leading indicators of a financially healthy farm operation

Paul StoddardPaul Stoddard, Lecturer, College of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois

With tight margin pressure farmers must learn to use financial indicators to keep their business going in the right direction. Paul Stoddard has 30-some years of wisdom helping farmers in everything from marketing to management to finance. More than 6,000 students have enrolled in Paul’s courses since 2001. He has received numerous teaching awards and has been recognized for 32 consecutive semesters on the U of I’s List of Teachers Ranked Excellent by students.

Paul joined the University of Illinois fulltime in 2012 following a 30-year career in agricultural real estate, commodity trading, farm management, and agricultural lending. He spent 14 years with Farm Credit Illinois, most recently serving as Chief Appraiser. In addition to his academic duties, Paul provides Hedging & Options Training and Leadership Coaching within the Farm Credit System.


The five tech trends that will reshape your farm

Willie VogtWillie Vogt, Executive Director, Content and User Engagement, Farm Progress Co.

As a long-time ag tech enthusiast and editor of Farm Industry news, Willie Vogt has covered the hardware and software of agriculture from hard iron to biotech seed. You won’t believe what he’s got in store for this session. How will these gadgets change your business?

Vogt has been covering agriculture for more than three decades from his early days at a weekly farm paper to his current position at Farm Progress Co. where he oversees an editorial business that includes 23 magazines and more than 29 websites. He graduated from Iowa State University in 1980 and eventually ended up in Minnesota. He joined Farm Progress full time in 1996 as technology editor and became Editorial Director in 2004.


Collaborate to maximize profit potential

Chris BarronChris Barron, Director of Operations and President of Carson and Barron Farms, Rowley, Iowa

Should you go it alone, or farm with others? In this presentation Iowa farmer and management consultant Chris Barron shares the economic and quality-of-life advantages for multi-generation farms working together with other producers. You’ll learn key benefits, such as expansion opportunities for younger producers; time management and quality of life; tax advantages; equipment costs and efficiencies; and the economic benefits of reaching ‘critical mass.’

A 1992 communications graduate of University of Dubuque, Barron has developed many decision tools to help producers improve the profitability of their operations. Most notably he developed “Profit Manager,” a tool used by hundreds of corn and soybean producers. He and his wife Alissa work as a team through their business, Ag View Solutions, to help farmers across the country.



Young farmer panel discussion: How to grow into management

Maria CoxMaria Cox, Illinois young farmer, Farm Futures blogger, moderator

Young farmers face greater pressures as they prepare to manage larger operations than ever before. Illinois young farmer and Farm Futures blogger Maria Cox will moderate this important session showcasing tips for young farmers as they climb the management ladder.

Cox earned an M.S. in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University and a B.S. in Agribusiness from the University of Illinois. She is a sixth generation grain, livestock, and hay farmer who has been farming with her family since 2012.  In this session you will hear real-world examples of young farmers integrating into their family businesses.  that managed change to help the farm, and the farm management team, grow for the future.  


Tactics for tight margins: Are you ready for 2018?

Bob CravenBob Craven, University of Minnesota Ag Economist

After four years of shrinking profit margins, farmers must continue to analyze costs and revenue. University of Minnesota ag economist Robert Craven is on hand to help. His session, “Tactics for Tight Margins: Are you ready for 2018?” will help you focus on how to make changes to improve margins and profits.


How to be a great boss

Tim SchaeferTim Schaefer, Farm management coach, Encore Consultants

People drive success on the farm. Yet, farmers tell us one of their biggest worries for the future is finding and keeping quality employees, especially as farms grow. What’s the best way to find, hire and keep the right people on your farm? How do you set compensation, bonuses, or non-cash job perks? Learn the simple concepts that will have people wanting to come work for you. – Tim Schaefer, farm management coach, Encore Consultants


How financial stress impacts your business in 2018

Curt CovingtonCurt Covington, Senior Vice President of Agricultural Finance, Farmer Mac

Curt is responsible for managing the $18.3 billion ag loan portfolio for Farmer Mac, the nation’s premier secondary market for agricultural credit that was created to increase access to and reduce the cost of capital for the benefit for the benefit of American agriculture and rural communities. Curt’s extensive experience in ag lending spans nearly four decades and his passion for rural America developed at a young age on his family’s grape and tree nut farm in the farming community of Selma, California. He earned his undergraduate degree in finance from the University of Southern California and his Masters in Agribusiness from Santa Clara University.