The Chicago Farmers annual Farmland Investment Fair has been rebranded for 2014 as simply “The Farmland Fair” with a continued focus on the connection of social media and farmland investment.
The Chicago Farmers 2014 Farmland Fair – “Where People Come To Learn, Connect and Understand Farmland” – will be held on February 1, 2014 from 8:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Joliet Junior College’s Weitendorf Ag Facility. The Fair will feature social media expert Jeff Korhan, author of “Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business,” which delivers proven methods for converting social marketing best practices into profitable outcomes. Korhan is a small business marketing specialist who helps businesses use social media and internet marketing to create exceptional customer experiences that accelerate business growth.
Farmland Fair co-chairman Jeff Martin notes that The Chicago Farmers organization has been helping people with an interest in farmland connect face-to-face with each other since 1935. “This year we’re going to teach people how to connect and learn about farmland on-line and further increase their business opportunities on the farm,” said Martin, who is a past president of The Chicago Farmers, a farmer from Mount Pulaski, Illinois and nationally-recognized expert on conservation practices. Interview with Jeff Martin, The Chicago Farmers
Mark says it’s a great time for IALF since they’ve got an overlap in last year’s leadership class with the international seminar group that is touring in Brazil and Argentina. He says it’s the second time they’ve been at the Farmland Investment Fair. He says it’s interesting that he’s found that other exhibitors are really good prospects for the IALF program.
Farmland values was a very important topic of discussion at the Farmland Investment Fair put on by the Chicago Farmers. One of the educational sessions on the topic was conducted by Mike Shane, First Farm Credit Services.
Mike told me they focused on what land values are now and what drives them. They can’t predict them of course. He says they’ve see a leveling off of values in recent years and decline in certain areas like the Dekalb, Kane and McHenry county areas around Chicago but if you go further south in the state they’re more flat or even higher. Land is still available and they’ve seen some land sell for as much as $8K in those areas. Interest rates were a question they got asked a lot and right now they’re about as low as they’re going to go.
Joliet Junior College and specifically the Weitendorf Agricultural Education Center was the location of the Chicago Farmers Farmland Investment Fair. I spoke with one of their faculty, Bill Johnson (pictured left), about the school. Bill is one of the many volunteers who work to put on the Fair.
He says that the College started that state’s first ag program in 1954 so it has the oldest ag program and it’s still the largest. They draw students from all the surrounding states. He says they’ve got 102 acres of farmland on the campus which is operated by the ag department. The Weitendorf Center is located across the highway from Chicago Motor Speedway. He says this is the third year they’ve held the fair in the facility.
The President of the Chicago Farmers is my good friend Colleen Callahan. I joked with her that I appreciated her wearing my Gators orange and blue but she’s actually going to an Illini basketball game later.
Colleen conducted one of the presentations here at the Farmland Investment Fair in her role as USDA, Rural Development, Illinois Director. I spoke with her afterward about the organization. She says Chicago Farmers was developed to assist absentee land owners and connect them with the farm industry. They meet monthly and hold this annual event outside Chicago to draw a wider audience of people who either have land to sell or are looking for farmland to buy.
You can listen to my interview with Colleen below. I also produced a video clip of the Fair so you can see what you missed if you weren’t here.
I’m going to be talking about social media and networking at the upcoming Chicago Farmers Farmland Investment Fair. But before getting there I talked about it with Rich Schell, SchellAcres.com, who is a member and committee organizer for the fair. He’s also an Attorney, Author & Agri-preneur, Wagner & Schell, LLP.
Rich says that since the purpose of the Fair is to communicate, they see social media mechanisms as just a new channel to communicate with people interested in farmland and specifically investing. That’s why I’ve helped them create a Chicago Farmers Twitter account and will be assisting with online coverage of the Fair in addition to presenting a session on social media. Rich sees the target audience for the Fair busy on their Blackberry’s and he thinks they’re pretty savvy when it comes to using the internet. My session will help those who haven’t started with social networks and want to.
Please feel free to listen in on my conversation with Rich below: