2018 AFBF Convention Speakers

Are you ready to:

Share innovative ideas, concepts or designs?

Explore and discuss the connection between food and agriculture?

Help our members hone leadership skills or improve farming acumen?

Meet and connect with farmer leaders and agribusiness professionals?

Present your ideas and information with some of the best and most creative minds in the country?


If so, we are excited to offer the opportunity to present at the 2018 AFBF Annual Convention and IDEAg Tradeshow January 5 - 10, 2087, in Nashville, Tennessee. We are seeking proposals for workshops that keep our members excited by the latest innovations in agriculture, informed about the ever-changing landscape in the industry, and equipped to be better famers and leaders. 


Click here to apply now!


For more information, visit the AFBF Annual Convention website, or email conventions@fb.org


Annual Convention Wrap Up

This past January, nearly 6,000 of America’s farmers and ranchers arrived at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona, for the IDEAg Trade Show and 98th Annual Convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The trade show floor, with more than 100 exhibitors, featured education on the IDEAg Cultivation Center stage, a Celebration of Grassroots reception, the Taste of America lunch event and some of the best agribusinesses from across the country.

The Celebration of Grassroots reception, held on Saturday, January 7, featured a supply chain forum with executives from General Mills, Inc., DuPont, and John Deere. 

Wrapping up the trade show, the Taste of America lunch event, featuring food from each region of the country, was well-received by attendees. Food from each region was placed among the exhibitors’ booths.

And to finish off the convention, Peyton & Archie Manning spoke to attendees about family, their careers, and football.

We look forward to seeing everyone again in 2018 in Nashville, TN!


Farmfest 2016 Show Preview


As part of the IDEAg Minnesota Farmfest show, Ag Innovators' Day offers an exciting and unique experience to our attendees looking to learn more about the ways they can improve the functions of their production. Through producer-led education, forward-thinking keynote presentations, and the Minnesota 4-H Science of Ag Challenge event, attendees will get a glimpse at the next generation of farming technologies.

The full Ag Innovators' Day schedule is available HERE

Ag Innovators' Day is sponsored by


Gold Sponsor:


Silver Sponsor:

Minnesota Corn Growers Association



This year's show has a little bit of everything! In addition to more than 500 leading agribusinesses, Farmfest features topical education sessions, politics, and special events for the whole family!

For the full schedule of events CLICK HERE


IDEAg Planting Season Photo Contest

Send in your best planting season photo and enter for a chance to win a $100 Farm Bureau Bank VISA gift card.

Upload your photo to http://pruploads.fb.org/Label your upload IDEAg Photo Contest.

Top 3 images will be featured in our next newsletter and the first place winner will receive a $100 Farm Bureau VISA gift card!

Good luck!


IDEAg staff, exhibitors and sponsors of IDEAg trade show are exempt from winning.


The changing winds of Agri Lending

The days of single source-operating lines from your local banker have almost become obsolete. Even though community banks continue to dominate U.S. agricultural lending - issuing 77% of all Ag Loans - they are facing extreme challenges that negatively impact them, their Ag customers and the economies of the communities they serve. 

The number of community banks has dropped dramatically over the past 20 years, as it becomes increasingly difficult for them to compete because of capital reserve requirements, aversion to risk, regulatory costs and the inability to compete with larger, better-capitalized banks. And, even though large banks are providing approximately 15% of all agricultural loans, their originations are down by close to 10% despite the demand remaining strong and the number of community banks shrinking. 

Where does that leave the farmers and ranchers?

Progressive farmers, ranchers and their vendors realize that some combination of financing is needed to meet their capital and operational requirements.  Even with senior operating lines of credit, specials run by equipment dealers, and government rebates factored in – agricultural operators often find themselves short of their goals. Many of these businesses are bridging the gaps with supplemental financing from non-bank alternative lenders like Strategic Ag, a division of small business lender, Strategic Funding.  

How do you know if this type of financing is right for you? When deciding to borrow from these lenders the primary questions you should be asking yourself are:

Availability – In conjunction with all of your primary financing, can you get the supplemental funds you need to satisfy your whole requirement?

Timing - Does the timing of the financing you currently receive coincide with your capital requirements?

Amount – Is the amount of financing you are being offered from all of your sources combined sufficient enough to accommodate your goals?

If your answer is “no” to one or more of these questions, then obtaining financing from an alternative lender may be a viable option for your operations.  These lenders, working alongside your bank, can fill the holes and bring quick access to capital to farmers and ranchers as opportunities or challenges present themselves. While non-bank alternative lenders typically cost more than secured bank lines, obtaining the financing is quick, simple and relatively easy. It may cost more, but it is available with funding in days, not weeks.

The use of technology driven underwriting coupled with human insight from finance professionals that know the Ag business has allowed Strategic Ag to provide millions of dollars to row crop farmers, vegetable and fruit growers, feed lots and Ag service providers.  This methodology enables Strategic Ag  to fund up to $100,000 in four to seven business days.  Amounts over $100,000 and up to $2.0 million, can take as few as ten to fourteen business days to deposit in your bank.   In fact, this fast access to capital recently enabled one row crop provider to obtain $500,000.00 to take advantage of a 20% discount for his nitrogen inputs, by pre-paying the order.

To see if alternative financing is right for you, set up a time to speak with Strategic Funding’s agricultural finance team, Strategic Ag.


About Strategic Ag:
Strategic Ag – the agricultural finance team of Strategic Funding, has offices in Rockwall, Texas and New York with members who have owned and operated farms and ranches (We have walked in your shoes!) A direct lender, Strategic Funding has provided over $1 Billion to small businesses across the United States and Australia.  To learn more visit www.sfscapital.com


USDA Prospective Plantings Report Bearish for Many Row-Crop Farmers

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 31, 2016 -- The Agriculture Department's Prospective Plantings Report released today suggests low prices for corn and rice will continue, extending the current, two-year farm downturn through the end of 2016, if not beyond.

"The report really highlights how challenging the market is right now for major crops," said John Anderson, deputy chief economist of the American Farm Bureau Federation. "We currently have adequate supplies both in the U.S. and globally in these commodities. It doesn't look as though that will change. If we have normal yields, that supply side pressure will not ease up much."

The 93.6 million acre prospective plantings figure for corn is up from 88.6 million acres planted last year, or close to three times the expected increase of 2 million acres.

The December corn contract on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange dropped by about 15 cents to approximately $3.70 per bushel within a few minutes of the report's release.

The soybean prospective plantings figure came in at 82.236 million acres - on the low side of expectations, but still above some forecasts that had predicted just under 82 million acres.

Wheat acreage was also smaller than expectations. Winter and spring varieties combined were reported at 49.559 million acres. Pre-report estimates covered a wide range but averaged around 51.5 million acres. None of the publicly-released estimates were below 50 million acres. Wheat, like soy, however, will not likely increase greatly in price as long as corn surpluses remain.

Rice prospective plantings were well above market expectations at 3.064 million acres vs. USDA's projected rice plantings at 2.8 million acres. If this projection holds, it will be the first time since 2010 that rice acreage has topped 3 million acres. Recent tightening of world rice supplies may limit the damage from today's report, but forecasts still suggest significant price drops are on the way.

​Mace Thornton
(202) 406-3641

Will Rodger
(202) 406-3642


2016 Agricultural Safety Awareness Program (ASAP) Week

The 2016 Agricultural Safety Awareness Program (ASAP) Week will be celebrated March 6-12. The theme for the week will be “Caution—Safety is No Accident” and will highlight a different safety focus each day of the week. We encourage you to start planning your ASAP Week activities now using the ASAP week logo.


Take the time to watch important safety videos focused on ATV safety, youth safety on the farm, tractor safety, roadway safety, and grain bin safety. CLICK HERE for this week's videos

DOWNLOAD resources to help you stay safe on the farm.



Agriculture ranks among the most dangerous industries. Between 2003 and 2011, 5,816 agricultural workers died from work-related injuries in the US. (1,2)

The leading cause of death for farmworkers between 1992 and 2009 was tractor overturns, accounting for over 90 deaths annually. The most effective way to prevent tractor overturn deaths is the use of Roll-Over Protective Structures; however in 2006 only 59% of tractors used on farms in the US were equipped with these devices. (2)

On average, 113 youth less than 20 years of age die annually from farm-related injuries (1995 -2002), with most of these deaths occurring to youth 16-19 years of age (34%). (3)

1 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), United States Department of Labor. Occupational Injuries and Illnesses and Fatal Injuries Profiles database queried by industry for Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting (GP2AFH), Accessed June 2013.

2 Agricultural Safety. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topic.

3 Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Division of Safety Research


Be Cautious, Not Afraid When Looking at New Opportunity

Article by Bob Young, Chief Economist & Deputy Executive Director, Public Policy, American Farm Bureau Federation

The Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture released new estimates of farm income in early February.  Net Farm Income – which includes changes in the value of inventories and other non-monetary factors – for 2016 is projected to be down 56 percent from levels seen as recently as 2013.  Net Cash Income, which only looks at the cash revenue and cost parts of the ledger, suggests a decline from 2013 in the 30 percent range, but still…

The bottom line is that farmers are now facing a much different economic environment than was the case in the recent past.  And nearly all organizations that make a living putting together long-term projections for the sector think the new norm for the building blocks of farm income – corn, soybeans and wheat – are likely to sit at new price norms of $3, $8 and $4 a bushel respectively for a long time in the future.

With the Federal Reserve poised to have further conversations regarding ‘lift-off’ on the interest rate front and a strong dollar, comparisons to the early 1980’s seem to come up every day. The balance sheet for the sector looks much, much better than was the case in say the late 70’s or early 80’s.  Nearly all financial ratios are at very respectable levels.  Yes, some anecdotes of farmers facing challenges from their lenders are popping up, but individual cases are individual cases.

So what should producers and those that service the sector do in this environment of potential economic stress?  One option is of course to ‘hunker down’ and refuse to look at any economic opportunity.  Many a gray-haired farmer can point to those who came through the 80’s, that expanded rapidly and who are no longer in farming.  But there are certainly others who took advantage of land sales of farms suddenly became available after being off the market for decades.

Opportunities are out there today and likely more will develop tomorrow. Each case is going to require specific analysis, whether it be a chance at a new farm or to expand a grain handling operation.  The point is to have realistic expectations as to how the related commodity markets are going to perform.  If a business plan makes sense at the $3, $8 and $4 levels discussed above, with interest rates potentially double where they are today, then it may deserve serious consideration.

From a handling standpoint, if it takes double the current load to make the investment work, you’d better have a pretty good plan on how the organization is going to take market share from someone else as the same long-term forecasting groups touched on above are not looking for any major export boom. 

On the other hand, if you need zero interest rates, corn prices in the $8 range and every barge on the river ready to be filled tomorrow, such an investment might not be the best move.

The one-liner I’m telling most farmers and ranchers today, and which certainly applies to the grain handling sector, is this: Be cautious, but don’t be afraid.


“The Top Ten Mistakes That Break Up a Family Business!”™

Article by Jolene Brown, Farmer and Professional Speaker, West Branch, Iowa

As a farmer and professional speaker, people in my audiences often confide in me. They tell me their stories about owning and working the farm with family members. Many are filled with anger, fear, disappointment and resentment. I listen carefully to their words and hearts. I share with them insight, realistic solutions, and tools to use. Then the next week I’m with a different audience. I hear the same stories with familiar plots.

Generation one is retired. (Well, he/she still comes to the farm and struggles with the transition from being the “independent boss” to being the “hired help” while still being the main capital investor.)

Generation two makes the management decisions and works very hard. (Communicates little, still trying to earn the unspoken respect of generation one. Worries about the estate plan of parents. Seeks to bring in the next generation for labor and please… not too many ideas.)

Generation three has many ideas, works very hard and brings those “in- laws” who ask questions. (He/she wants be appreciated for energy and education and wants to know when he/she will be “old enough” to manage aspects of the farm. Exposure to technology and professions outside of agriculture have him/her asking questions, comparing and wanting answers.)


In this generational diversity of needs and dreams, we have forgotten that sound business and transitional management must be based on more than genetics, tradition, assumptions and emotion.


We perpetuate what I call, “The Top Ten Mistakes That Break Up a Family Business!”™

1. Assuming all genetic relationships equal good working relationships
2. Believing the farm can financially support any and all family members who want to farm
3. Assuming others will / should / must change and not me
4. Presuming a conversation is a contract
5. Believing mind reading is an acceptable form of communication
6. Failing to build communication skills and farm/family meeting tools when the times are good so they’ll be in place to use when the times get tough
7. Ignoring the in-laws, off farm family, and employees
8. Forgetting to use common courtesy
9. Having no legal and discussed estate, management transfer plan, or buy/sell agreement
10. Failing to celebrate 

At my seminars, we face realities, laugh and learn, open eyes, and sometimes even wipe tears. We discover solutions and tools that give us choices to move our farm families from stupidity to intelligence. If not, I always have available the duct tape and a 2 x 4. 


Copyright © 2016 Jolene Brown, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Jolene Brown encourages, teaches and celebrates those who feed, clothe and fuel the world. She brings humor, hope and helpful ideas to the people of agriculture.™ 


Introducing the IDEAg Newsletter

Hello from IDEAg! The all new IDEAg Newsletter has arrived. Stay up to date on all the latest happenings in agriculture, including new technology, policy issues, commodity markets, and product information from our trade show exhbitors.


Northern Illinois Farm Show, 34 years of Midwestern service

The 34th annual Northern Illinois Farm Show took place last week at the NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb, Illinois. The show brought in close to 200 exhibitors and a few thousand attendees from northern Illinois, eastern Iowa and southern Wisconsin.

Featuring education from the University of Illinois Extension and Allendale Inc., the show provided a convenient location for Midwest farmers to visit with the top agribusinesses of the area and participate in discussions on everything from weather preparedness to weed management decisions.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture also conducted its annual Pesticide Applicator Training on both Wednesday and Thursday.