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People skills, transitions in focus at Farm Futures Business Summit

Elevate your business leadership skills at this winter’s premier farm business conference.

Mike Wilson, Senior Executive Editor

October 16, 2023

4 Min Read
Crowd view of 2023 Farm Futures Business Summit
Mike Wilson

The 2024 Farm Futures Business Summit, set to take place Jan. 9-11 at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Coralville, Iowa, will offer dynamic breakout sessions designed to help farm families become better business managers and smoothly transition farms to the next generation.

Summit keynote speaker Brooke Didier Starks will coach attendees on managing emotional family dynamics and personal feelings around farm transitions. She is an estate planning attorney with more than 20 years of experience helping farm families with wills and trusts, wealth preservation, farm and business succession planning, and probate and estate administration. Brooke’s candid, down-to-earth style has helped hundreds of farm families get ‘unstuck,’ and move toward creating the legacies they want to leave for their families and communities.

“You are running a multi-million dollar business so you need to implement good business structure,” she says. “Building true legacy means creating a plan for generations that you may never even meet. Farm clients often plan for their spouses and kids and even to save a little taxes, but real legacy transcends the here and now for lasting impact on the farm and into the generations of the future."

“The hardest part is laying the framework and then moving out of the way to let it flourish.”

The 2024 summit is packed with deep dive sessions centered on business leadership, family dynamics, soft people skills, farm labor retention, grain marketing, farm office automation, and professionalizing your farm. It also includes time to meet other growers and build your network. Here’s a sampling:

  • University of Minnesota grain marketing instructor Ed Usset, along with retired Iowa State farm management specialist Steve Johnson, will lead hands-on breakout sessions on the basics of grain marketing, crop insurance decisions, and grain storage management.

  • A farmer panel, moderated by This Week in Agribusiness anchor Mike Pearson, will share insights on farm expansion and lessons from both success and failure.

  • Ag banker Curt Covington and business coach Jay Joy will lead sessions on business and leadership skills.

  • Leadership trainer Dean Heffta will lead a breakout on how a mission mindset helps the best farms thrive.

  • Todd Miller, CEO at Head Honcho, will walk farmer attendees through the steps needed to participate in the government’s H-2A foreign guest worker program.

  • Pinion exec Peter Martin will share how to make your farm more competitive by automating farm financial tasks.

  • University of Nebraska extension educator Jessica Groskopf will share tips on family dynamics and starting the multi-generational conversations around farm transitions.

  • Nutrien atmospheric scientist Eric Snodgrass will discuss new technologies that allow us to see farther into the future to predict impactful weather events. He will touch on the winter forecast and its implications for the 2024 growing season. He will also assess the progress of the growing season in South America.

  • Advance Trading, Inc.’s risk management advisor Tommy Grisafi will share how to navigate information overload and how to make sense of market information you get bombarded with on a daily basis.

Gold medal presentation

The summit will kick off with an appearance by Gold Medal Olympic wrestler Dan Gable, an Iowa native and former college wrestling champion. Gable won every major championship available to an American wrestler, climaxed by a gold medal in the 1972 Olympic Games. As a coach, his Hawkeyes won a record nine consecutive NCAA team titles. In December of 2020, Dan Gable was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has authored several books including New York Times Best Selling books, “A Wrestling Life” and “A Wrestling Life 2.”

Gable knew how to lead because he knew how to listen. Even if you’ve never wrestled, summit attendees will be touched by Gable’s awe-inspiring journey from small-town Iowa to Olympic gold medalist. At this opening session learn powerful lessons from the life of the greatest wrestling figure in American history.

Go to for agenda updates, registration, and hotel details. If you’re looking to meet other growers and get better at all aspects of farm family business, don’t miss this event!

About the Author(s)

Mike Wilson

Senior Executive Editor, Farm Progress

Mike Wilson is the senior executive editor for Farm Progress. He grew up on a grain and livestock farm in Ogle County, Ill., and earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural journalism from the University of Illinois. He was twice named Writer of the Year by the American Agricultural Editors’ Association and is a past president of the organization. He is also past president of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists, a global association of communicators specializing in agriculture. He has covered agriculture in 35 countries.

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