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Management Summit a Big Hit

Plans underway for all-new Farm Futures conference in 2008.

Farm Futures' Management Summit, "Building Your Family Farm's Future," was held in St. Louis on Dec 11-12 and despite difficult weather drew over 200 farmers from 22 states to hear an all-star lineup of speakers, including our own Farm Futures specialists.

Summit participants, including Dave Allyn, Mt. Vernon, Ind., couldn't help but laugh when farm policy expert Barry Flinchbaugh began to share stories about past Ag Secretaries and his work on farm bills.

Farmers enjoyed several high-level nationally acclaimed speakers who discussed succession planning, strategic thinking, leasing strategies, negotiation skills, farm growth and crop budgeting, among other topics. Keynote speakers included University of Nebraska Ag Economist Ron Hanson, who spoke on the importance of family communications; Purdue University Ag Economist Mike Boehlje, who spoke on flex leasing and farm growth strategies; and noted Ag Economist Barry Flinchbaugh, who talked about farm policy myths and realities.

Farm Futures Editorial Director Willie Vogt takes a question from a farmer during the Bear Pit, a spirited Q and A session with all Summit speakers.

The three were joined by Farm Futures contributing editor and consultant Dick Wittman as well as Ag Labor specialist Sarah Fogleman, Kansas State University. Farm Management specialist Darrell Dunteman, and several farmers who shared their own experiences on landlord relationships, bringing new people on to the farm and successful estate planning.

Todd Wachtel, who farms near Altamont, Ill., shares his family farm's history and the successful steps taken to bring new generations into the family's farm operation. A highlight for many participants was listening to other farmers share stories on estate planning, landowner relationships and employee management.

Farm Futures Senior Editor Bryce Knorr offered a workshop full of advice on advanced marketing techniques to help farmers build risk management strategies. Market Analyst Arlan Suderman dug into his data sets to provide a comprehensive look at the upcoming 2008 battle for crop acreage. The entire group of speakers came together for "the Bear Pit," a fiery roundtable discussion of the most pressing issues facing large-scale U.S. farmers.

Idaho rancher and long-time farm management consultant Dick Wittman offered an intense workshop focusing on managing farms as businesses and strengthening on-farm relationships.

A post-meeting survey revealed that 99% of participants rated the seminar either excellent or good and would recommend a similar seminar to their colleagues.

"I've received some really good insight on working with family in the farm business and ideas to consider when passing on the farm," says Steve Beier, Swanton, OH. "We chose the Farm Futures Summit rather than another one we've attended in the past and I'd like to attend this one again next year."

Farm Futures' Market Analyst Arlan Suderman had all eyes on him as he gave his assessment of planting intentions for 2008 crops.

Dug Radcliff, Circleville, OH, agrees. "The seminar has been one of the best that I've ever attended," he says. "It's been a great experience and it really helps us focus on using sound business practices. Everything I've heard fits what we're doing or need to do! This conference is going to help me make money."

Special recognition goes to summit sponsors GSI, Asgrow, Rabobank, and Polaris. Plans are already underway for the next summit, which will be held in December 2008.

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