Looking Ahead to ASFMRA Agronomics Vision 2015

With the conclusion of the Agronomics Vision 2014 conference and American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers annual meeting, it is time to look forward to next year. To do that I sat down with Fred Hepler, President-Elect, AFM, AAC of Cottonwood Management in Edmond, Oklahoma. Next year it will be Fred’s meeting and he’s excited about it already. The conference will be in Tucson, AZ, October 27 – November 1, 2014.

Fred told me that although new technology was on the program at this year’s conference it will be even more prevalent next year with an expanded look at unmanned aerial vehicles and their use as a tool for managers, consultants and appraisers. You can learn more about his plans for next year’s program in our interview.

You can listen to my interview with Fred here: Interview with Fred Hepler

Agronomics Vision 2014 Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the ASFMRA Agronomics Conference is sponsored by Halderman Farm Management.

Summer Education for ASFMRA

Jeff Berg, ARA, and Past President of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, talked about the ASFMRA Summer Education Week program during Agronomics Vision 2014 in Reno, NV. He told me that ASFMRA has a net increase of about 86 new members this year which is a big increase for the organization. Sounds like the ways that the organization is encouraging young people to get into the industry are working. It’s a great time to get into the business due to the changing demographics in the United States. ASFMRA chapters are sending representative to college clubs and classes like ag econ. He calls farm management, consulting and rural appraisal the best kept secret in agriculture.

Summer Education Week will take place July 13 – 17, 2014 in Des Moines, IA.

You can listen to my interview with Jeff here: Interview with Jeff Berg

Agronomics Vision 2014 Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the ASFMRA Agronomics Conference is sponsored by Halderman Farm Management.

Watching Out For ASFMRA In Washington

Stephen Frerichs, AgVantage, LLC, works with the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers on its Leadership Institute in Washington, Dc. He attended the Agronomics Vision 2014 conference to provide a Farm Bill update and learn about what this year’s priorities are for ASFMRA.

I sat down with him to talk about the work he does with ASFMRA members when they visit Washington, DC for the annual Leadership Institute.

You can listen to my interview with Stephen here: Interview with Stephen Frerichs

Agronomics Vision 2014 Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the ASFMRA Agronomics Conference is sponsored by Halderman Farm Management.

ASFMRA Award Winner

The American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA) recognized Gary Thien, AFM, ARA, Thien Farm Management, Inc., with the 2013 D. Howard Doane Award during the 2013 ASFMRA Annual Meeting in Reno, NV.

The D. Howard Doane Award is held in great esteem in the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. It is given annually to a member or non-member who has demonstrated such qualities and outstanding contributions in the field of agriculture with emphasis on farm management and rural appraisal.

Gary Thien AFM, ARA, graduated from Iowa State University in 1974 and started managing farms in western Iowa for the Council Bluffs Savings Bank. That same year he attended an Iowa Chapter meeting of the ASFMRA and became a member shortly thereafter.

Learn a little bit more about Gary in this interview I did with him during the Agronomics Vision 2014 Conference.

You can listen to my interview with Gary here: Interview with Gary Thien

Agronomics Vision 2014 Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the ASFMRA Agronomics Conference is sponsored by Halderman Farm Management.

Farm Management Training by ASFMRA

There are so many ways that the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers provide education for their members. One of those is an accelerated ag land management program which has brought the traditional and typical classes together into a three week course. These are for seasoned professionals instead of those just entering the field. I spoke with Mike Krause, Hertz Farm Management, about the program.

Another program is Summer Education Week. It moves around the country year to year. In includes core education for both the farm management/consulting and rural appraisal sides of the industry. The program will take place in Des Moines, IA in 2014.

You can listen to my interview with Mike here: Interview with Mike Krause

Agronomics Vision 2014 Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the ASFMRA Agronomics Conference is sponsored by Halderman Farm Management.

ASFMRA Leadership Institute Program

Besides certification programs the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers also has a Leadership Institute. Let’s learn all about it from Merrill W. Swanson, ARA of Dugger, Canaday, Grafe, Inc, in San Antonio, TX. Merrill has moved into the role of First Vice President of the ASFMRA. He also serves as the Co-Chair of the Government Relations Committee which has been conducting this annual leadership program for about 20 years. The program is sponsored by Dupont Pioneer. Merrill has attended four of the institutes.

Approximately 30 members are selected each year to go to Washington, DC for the program where they learn about how to navigate and communicate with the politicians and regulators making decisions about policies that affect their business. Attendees range in age and experience across all members of ASFMRA. It’s a week long program.

You can listen to my interview with Merrill here: Interview with Merrill Swanson

Agronomics Vision 2014 Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the ASFMRA Agronomics Conference is sponsored by Halderman Farm Management.

Halderman Farm Management Continues to Expand

As you know, Halderman Farm Management has been the sponsor of our coverage of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers Agronomics Conference for two years now. We greatly appreciate their support and to learn more about how things are going for the company I visited with Howard Halderman again at this year’s conference.

Howard says things are going well in the eastern corn belt and they are continuing to expand their services. He says recently they’ve started representing some large investment groups and building portfolios of farm land for them. He says this work has led them to various parts of the country and has emphasized the need for the Agronomics conference with the networking opportunities it provides. Listen in on our conversation to learn more about what’s going on in the industry.

You can listen to my interview with Howard here: Interview with Howard Halderman

Agronomics Vision 2014 Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the ASFMRA Agronomics Conference is sponsored by Halderman Farm Management.

ASFMRA Speaker Interviews

Last week I posted podium remarks from Monsanto’s Dr. Robert Fraley and from California Secretary of Agriculture, Karen Ross at the Agronomics Vision 2014 conference in Reno, NV. After their presentations I sat down with them for a short interview which focused not only on their presentations but in more personal detail about what they see for the future. Feel free to click and watch or listen.

You can listen to my interview with Dr. Fraley here: Interview with Dr. Robert Fraley

You can listen to my interview with Karen here: Interview with Karen Ross

Agronomics Vision 2014 Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the ASFMRA Agronomics Conference is sponsored by Halderman Farm Management.

ASFMRA Providing Continuing Education

JoAnn WallOne of the first persons I met at the Agronomics Vision 2014 conference was JoAnn Wall, Central Coast AgAppraisal, Inc. JoAnn moderated a technology panel during the conference this year. We had a great conversation about the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers in which she is actively involved. JoAnn is an accredited rural appraiser and says the conference provides needed continuing education opportunities for ASFMRA members.

JoAnn talked about the use of flipbooks in her business for appraisal reports during her technology session. So it seems like new technology is changing the way even farm managers, rural appraisers and consultants are doing their business. She also encourage young people to consider a career in farm management or rural appraisal. That’s a key initiative of ASFMRA right now.

You can listen to my interview with JoAnn here: Interview with JoAnn Wall

Agronomics Vision 2014 Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the ASFMRA Agronomics Conference is sponsored by Halderman Farm Management.

New ASFMRA President

ASFMRAThe new president of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers is Jim Rickert, AFM, ARA co-owner of Western Agricultural Services. I visited with him at the Agronomics Vision 2014 conference taking place in Reno, NV, to find out what his goals are for his year as president.

Rickert, AFM, ARA is the co-owner of Western Agricultural Services, with his wife Mary, since 1981. Their son James Rickert joined the family business in 2004. Jim is a member of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers and provides farm and ranch management services on over 50,000 acres in five counties in Northern California. Western Agricultural Services also offers appraisal and real estate brokerage services. Jim received his ARA designation in 1975 and his AFM designation in 1979.

You can listen to my interview with Jim here: Interview with Jim Rickert

You can find photos from the conference here: Agronomics Vision 2014 Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the ASFMRA Agronomics Conference is sponsored by Halderman Farm Management.

Monsanto Innovation to Meet Global Demand

Dr. Robert FraleyThis morning Dr. Robert Fraley, Monsanto Executive Vice President & Chief Technology Officer, took the stage at Agronomics Vision 2014. His task was to address “Meeting Global Demand Through Innovation in Agriculture.” It is a task he enjoys since that’s what Monsanto has always done!

Dr. Fraley talked about the projects and technologies that Monsanto is working on to support the doubling of yields needed by the year 2030 to feed a growing population. He says the Monsanto has always been a seed company that combines breeding with with biotechnology and agronomics solutions as well as new technologies.

You can listen to Dr. Fraley’s speech here: Dr. Robert T. Fraley Speech

Agronomics Vision 2014 Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the ASFMRA Agronomics Conference is sponsored by Halderman Farm Management.

A California Welcome to Agronomics Vision 2014

Karen RossThe Agronomics Vision 2014 conference got kicked off this morning with opening remarks from Karen Ross, California Secretary of the Department of Food and Agriculture. Karen is very proud of the agricultural industry in California as you’ll hear from her remarks. I also interviewed her afterward and will be sharing that interview soon.

You can listen to Karen’s remarks here: Opening Remarks from Karen Ross

You can find photos from the conference here: Agronomics Vision 2014 Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the ASFMRA Agronomics Conference is sponsored by Halderman Farm Management.

AgroNomics 2014

AgroNomics Vision 2014It’s time for some vision from the 2014 AgroNomics. This is just one of the places I’ll be this week while the rest of the ZimmComm team is in KC, MO for the NAFB convention. AgroNomics is a U.S. ag investment conference that is held in conjunction with the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers annual meeting and trade show.

AgroNomics – Vision 2014 to be held November 11-15, 2013 in Reno, Nevada offers interaction opportunities for investors and fund managers together with the land management, property valuation, agricultural consulting, and rural land & property sales experts of the American Society of Farm Managers & Rural Appraisers.

With the increasing interest among national and international investors and fund managers to acquire U.S. farm land, ASFMRA is working to meet the needs of all parties involved in these transactions.

Summer School for Appraisers & Farm Managers

Growing up, no one liked to talk about the possibility of going to summer school. But the folks who attended the recent 83rd Annual Meeting and Trade Show of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers and AgroNomics Conference & Trade Show welcome the opportunity to take part in their organization’s Summer Education Week.

“It’s an intensified week, [and it's open] to any member,” from newbies to experienced professionals, according to Paul Joerger, ASFMRA President. He added that the wide range of experience levels means ASFMRA needs to come up with topics that apply to everyone and their businesses. “One that comes to mind real quick is a negotiating class, [because] everybody’s negotiating something at sometime.”

And, echoing a common theme at the conference, Joerger said the networking members are able to do at this education week are invaluable. “That’s where you can find out about other ideas, you can bounce ideas, and that is as much as benefit as listening to experienced people speak in the classroom.”

He said the class is usually held in mid-July with signups held in mid-May.

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Paul here: Interview with Paul Joerger, ASFMRA President

2012 Agronomics Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the ASFMRA Agronomics Conference is sponsored by Halderman Farm Management.

Advocating for ASFMRA

One of the things talked about at the recent 83rd Annual Meeting and Trade Show of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers and AgroNomics Conference & Trade Show was how those with the Accredited Farm Manager (AFM) or Accredited Rural Appraiser (ARA) designations can come in handy, even down the road. Take Mark Williams, ARA from Michigan for example. He spent several years as a member but really inactive in ASFMRA. But he stayed active enough to take classes and get his accreditation.

“Several years ago, I started getting [more active] in the organization, and I then began to realize the value of networking with other appraisers,” he told Chuck during an interview. And now, Williams said he wouldn’t miss an ASFMRA conference, and he pushed others to follow his path of getting that accreditation and becoming more active. “Get on board. Get your education. Get your accreditation.”

Williams said the networking has really opened up some opportunities, and he encouraged others, especially young people with a passion for agriculture, to let it help their careers, too. “Come on aboard, and grab a-hold of somebody, and let them pull you up the ladder they way people pulled me up the ladder.”

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Mark here: Interview with Mark Williams, ARA

2012 Agronomics Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the ASFMRA Agronomics Conference is sponsored by Halderman Farm Management.

ASFMRA Accreditation Opens Doors

A common them at the recent 83rd Annual Meeting and Trade Show of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers and AgroNomics Conference & Trade Show was how important ASFMRA accreditation and education is.

“The [Accredited Farm Manager, AFM accreditation] opens doors, provides credibility to the manager, is an industry-wide identity for that member, and it helps sell yourself when visiting with clients,” said Mike Krause, who works at Hertz Farm Management in Omaha and serve as chair of ASFMRA’s Management and Consulting Education Committee. He added that the networking possibilities through ASFMRA pay for themselves 10 times over. Plus, he said his organization is aware of the demands on people’s time and designs course materials to meet those educational needs as efficiently as possible. “Time is short for everybody. What we have is the right course material that’s specific to the daily needs of our members, and we utilize that material with examples so they get the most for their money in the shortest amount of time.”

Krause encouraged all members to seek out that accreditation, calling it a “complete” program.

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Mike here: Interview with Mike Krause, AFM

2012 Agronomics Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the ASFMRA Agronomics Conference is sponsored by Halderman Farm Management.

Investors Look to Farmland as Tangible, Stable Asset

With the ups and downs of the stock market in the past few years and the boom in the rural economy, institutional investors are looking at farmland as a tangible, stable asset to have in their portfolio. At the recent 83rd Annual Meeting and Trade Show of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers and AgroNomics Conference & Trade Show, Steve Kenney with the Hancock Agricultural Investment Group in Des Moines, Iowa talked about how investors are seeing ag areas as an obvious choice.

“Institutional investors are now taking a look at this asset class as a way to have stable income flow, steady returns to offset their liabilities from their pensioners. It helps to mitigate some of the volatility in their overall pension,” Kenney explained. He said interest is being driven by the volatility in stocks and bonds and the troubles in the commercial real estate market. “It’s a tangible asset. It’s something they can go out and kick the dirt… no pun intended.”

Kenney added that they can invest in annual crops, like row crops, or permanent ones, such as timber, or both, but the row crops offer less risk. He said the institutional investors are beginning to carve out a real asset portfolio, and farmland is part of that package. Kenney counsels that investors need to look at a long-term approach to this investment… at least 10 years and probably closer to 20-30 years.

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Steve here: Interview with Steve Kenney, Hancock Agricultural Investment Group

2012 Agronomics Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the ASFMRA Agronomics Conference is sponsored by Halderman Farm Management.

Bidner is Syngenta’s Pro Farm Manager of the Year

A veteran farm manager from Illinois has been named Syngenta’s in North America Professional Farm Manager of the Year for 2012. Brent Bidner, accredited farm manager and vice president of Hertz Farm Management, Inc., has been providing professional farm management services for Hertz for 24 years. The Monticello, Ill. resident manages more than 18,000 acres across Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Colorado.

Bidner’s approach to managing clients’ land includes taking care of the land the same way he would if he owned it himself. “I look at it as a long-term, not just a short-term, investment,” said Bidner. “My goal is to leave it for the next generation in better shape than it was when I took over management of the property.”

His careful management and innovative approach has paid off for long-term client, Kenway Farm. “Through a number of improvements, Brent has increased our corn production nearly 12 percent and soybean production by 10 percent when you compare pre-management averages to recent averages,” said Paul Gorden, president of Kenway Farm in Blue Mound, Ill.

“Professional farm managers play a crucial role in agriculture today,” said Brent Rockers, district manager for Syngenta. “At Syngenta, our goal is always to help farmers increase yield and return on investment by growing more with less. Dedicated farm managers like Brent are a key partner working with us to accomplish the exact same thing for their clients.”

In addition to honoring Bidner, Syngenta made a $1,000 donation in his name to the 4-H Memorial Camp in Monticello, Ill.

AgProLink A Social Network for ASFMRA Members

Communication is important for any organization, and at the recent 83rd Annual Meeting and Trade Show of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers and AgroNomics Conference & Trade Show, Chuck caught up with George Baird, an accredited farm manager (AFM) who has a company called Baird & Brunson Land Management Group based in the Mid-South. He explained what one of ASFMRA’s communications tools is AgProLink, which Baird likens to a social network site just for farm managers.

“[We] work on problems, discuss issues… and it’s just another way to keep everybody tied together,” Baird said. He added AgProLink is helping farm managers do more things more efficiently. “We can’t do everything. Some of us are good at some things, [others are good at others]. This is a perfect way to lean on each other.”

And Baird stressed the importance of attending conferences like this one and the networking opportunities it brings. “People tell me it costs too much to go. I tell them, ‘I can’t afford not to go!’”

Listen to Chuck’s interview with George here: Interview with George Baird, AFM, Baird & Brunson Land Management Group

2012 Agronomics Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the ASFMRA Agronomics Conference is sponsored by Halderman Farm Management.

Capital Into Ag Sector Good for ASFMRA Members

Rising prices in the ag sector are prompting a lot of companies to look at investing in those areas. But since these companies might not know that sector, they’re going to need good farm managers and appraisers to make sure their investment is well spent. At the recent 83rd Annual Meeting and Trade Show of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers and AgroNomics Conference & Trade Show held in Indianapolis, Ind. attendees were able to hear exactly what that might mean for their fields.

“Those companies [looking to invest in farmland] are looking for good farm management talent to do the due diligence on those properties, see if they’re worth acquiring and at what level, which may lead into the management and appraisal of that asset,” explained Gary Thien, AFM, owner of Thien Farm Management in Council Bluffs, Iowa. And he says it’s why an organization such as ASFMRA and conferences like these are important. “It’s always a leading-edge conference, and you always come home with something afterwards.”

Listen to Chuck’s interview with Gary here: Interview with Gary Thien, AFM

2012 Agronomics Photo Album

AgWired coverage of the ASFMRA Agronomics Conference is sponsored by Halderman Farm Management.