Farm Futures, the leading U.S. ag business magazine, will host the 2015 Farm Futures Business Summit at the Hilton Ballpark Hotel in St. Louis Jan. 7-8, 2015, with sessions to focus on 2015 crop budgets, unmanned aerial systems in agriculture, the 2014 Farm Bill, and several other topics important to the success of your farm business.
"This year we have a team of experts lined up to help farmers become better business people, better marketers, and better risk managers," says Farm Futures Executive Editor Mike Wilson. "Whether you are a young farmer or a senior manager, this meeting is all about getting better so you are prepared for tighter profit margins in the year ahead."
Purdue Ag Economist Mike Boehlje will keynote the meeting. Boehlje's forward-thinking presentations focus on farm finance and management, and how to succeed even in turbulent economic times.
"The farming sector is facing a new business climate," he says. "These volatile times require the farm business to have the resiliency to handle tougher times, and the agility to capture the opportunities that always appear in volatile times.
"The challenge is to focus on becoming "best in class" so you're not vulnerable in the downtimes."
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Farm Futures' farm business workshop will feature sessions on global supply and demand, Big Data, and the U.S. economic outlook. It also will include breakout sessions that focus on:
• How to manage 2015 crop budgets
• The future of unmanned aerial vehicles for agriculture
• The top 10 mistakes farmers make in estate planning
• How to improve landlord relationships
• Tips for young farmers in the 'new normal' of low grain prices
• How to find and keep great employees
• Understanding benefits in the new farm bill
Farm Futures' senior market analyst Bryce Knorr says management skills may make the difference between a profit and a loss in 2015.
"Improving your ability in finance, business relationships and marketing is something everyone can do, and everyone can benefit from," he says. "Whether you're a novice or an expert, the Summit offers opportunities to gain an edge. Our breakout sessions are designed to provide a give-and-take on key issues facing farmers to make sure crucial questions and decisions are addressed.
"In my own session on crafting a marketing plan, I'll discuss the process, but also give specific plans farmers can further develop to meet their own individual situations," Knorr says.
Knorr's closing presentation will take an in-depth look at the year ahead, just in time to help participants prepare for the key Jan. 12 USDA reports that kick off the New Year.
'Big Data' discussion
A panel moderated by Max Armstrong, co-host of the popular RFD-TV show This Week in Agribusiness, will discuss the issues of ownership and control – as well as profit potential – of big data.
"While companies have collected and analyzed agronomic data for some time, the amount of real-time information we can collect now is staggering," says Brian Marshall, a Missouri farmer who will speak at the summit. "It is a big change that is cause for both excitement and concern."
Several agricultural equipment firms have introduced technology whereby the data from combines is uploaded every few seconds to the Cloud. Real-time yield data is available to whoever controls those databases. But more important, who owns and controls the data?
"A farmer's information is valuable, so farmers should have a say in and be compensated when their data is sold," says Marshall. "Farmers need to protect their data and make sure they bargain wisely as they share it with suppliers and interested companies."
Along with Marshall, the panel includes Mary Kay Thatcher, American Farm Bureau Federation; Bruce Erickson, education distance and outreach director, Purdue University; and Jim Krogmeier, Open Ag Data Alliance.
Better risk managers
The summit also will focus on farm risk management in 2015. "We're gearing up to help farmers combat difficult economic challenges by boosting their business and marketing skills," says the magazine's executive editor Mike Wilson.
Sessions will focus on global demand, marketing, estate planning, employee management, business and landlord relationships, crop budgeting, crop insurance choices, the new farm bill, and future technology such as drones used for agriculture.
The summit is held in early January so young people on college break can attend for the low student price of just $199 per person.
How to register >>
Registration and full agenda for the 2015 Farm Futures Business Summit can be found online. If you prefer to register by phone, call 1-800-441-1410.
The Hilton offers summit attendees a special rate of just $85 along with free parking. To book hotel by phone, call 314-421-1776.
For special training on farm financials, also consider attending the Farm Futures Ag Finance Boot Camp, scheduled for Jan. 6, 2015 – a day ahead of the Farm Futures Business Summit and also at the St. Louis Hilton at the Ballpark hotel. There, attendees will learn how financial management can lead to better decision-making, and how good records and financial statements relate to better farm business management. Separate registration is required.
Summit sponsors are FarmLink, Kennedy & Coe LLC, John Deere, SureStart II herbicide, Conservis and Rabo AgriFinance.
Bootcamp sponsors are Farm Credit and the Farm Financial Standards Council.