With the ag economy already facing uncertainty prior to this year, and now navigating the COVID-19 environment, it’s more important now than ever for producers to “Overcome Challenges and Survive the Climb” together! The Family Farms, LLC semi-annual conference held on July 20-23, 2020, was taken virtual this summer with the overall theme of helping family farms plan, prepare, and persevere during uncertain and challenging economic times.
While we moved this conference online rather than meeting in person, the virtual summit did not disappoint. We had an opportunity to discover a new way to bring the best speakers, information, vendors, and breakout sessions to help farm operations overcome challenges from their living rooms, tractor cabs or shops.
The conference is a highly anticipated event that’s open to members of FamilyFarms Group. This summer, the conference was also open to the public and AgriSolutions clients. In addition to strengthening foundational pieces of their businesses, attendees had the opportunity to network, learn invaluable information from ag business leaders and peers, talk with vendors to learn about the latest technologies, innovations, services, and products in agriculture, and catch up with old friends and make new ones.
Wednesday General Session
The virtual summit kicked off with a crowd favorite: Eric Snodgrass, Senior Atmospheric Scientist at Nutrien Ag Solutions. Eric broke down the weather patterns we have been experiencing and gave attendees a look at the weather patterns the next several months may bring and what they could mean for producers across North America.
Physical and Mental Health
When most people think about being healthy, they think about their physical body, not their mental health. During the opening general session, we hosted a panel discussion featuring several speakers:
- Jason Medows, a pharmacist, farmer, and creator of the popular podcast and blog Ag State of Mind
- Nathan Brown, a first generation farmer in southwest Ohio
- Lisa Paschke, a consultant manager at PAS
Farming is not an easy profession. According to CNBC, farming and ranching rank in the top 10 most dangerous jobs to have, and the added stress of commodity prices creates the perfect storm for stress, anxiety, and depression. Our panel talked with our producers about how they can better care for their mental health in times of stress and the unknown. After the general session, there was a focused discussion about mental health.
Thursday Morning General Session
Agriculture Industry Updates
Thursday morning’s general session’s keynote speaker, Alan Tank, focused on ag policy, the state of the agriculture industry, and the policies’ current and potential impacts on the ag sector in the coming months and years. Alan is an entrepreneur, investor, and strategic advisor, as well as former CEO of the National Pork Producers Council. He used his past experiences and current insight into the political climate to give attendees a well-rounded view of how the upcoming 2020 elections could impact the agriculture industry.
Thursday Closing General Session
Time to Reflect
At the end of each conference, we like to bring all the attendees together to cap off the week. The virtual summit was no different. To end the week, we heard from guest speaker Amberley Snyder, a motivational speaker and professional barrel racer.
Amberley was driving to Denver, Colorado, when she was in a rollover truck accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down. However, that did not deter this cowgirl’s spirit. Amberley shared her story with our guests and reminded them to appreciate the little moments. Sometimes they are small and might be easily forgotten, but it’s these moments that shape our lives.
Plan. Prepare. Persevere.
Just like climbing a mountain, navigating today’s challenging times takes planning, preparation, and perseverance. Each of our breakout sessions was connected to one of those key points. The summit’s goal was to give attendees the tools they need to reach the top of any figurative mountain they are climbing.
Planning sessions focused on what the future may hold for attendees’ operations and how they can best plan for things that are out of their control. The preparation sessions were focused on the tools needed for the “climb” and to manage the unknown. One you have planned and prepared, it is time to persevere. The persevering session focused on making sure attendees have the right tools and foundation to ensure they can overcome any challenge.
As always, attendees could choose from a wide range of topics. From sessions on accounting to search engine optimization, there was a breakout that covered something in every sector of an operation.
Having an accurate account of your financials is important. It is even more important in a time of a crisis like we are facing now, with the state of the markets and the overall economic uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our financial breakout sessions included information about overall financial wellness and how to maintain accurate balance sheets, income statements, and managerial reports to keep track of your financial heartbeat. Knowing what mistakes to avoid is just as important as knowing what to do.
In another breakout session, AgriSolutions financial consultants and accountants broke down the 10 biggest financial mistakes made by operations, as well as how to identify if you are making those mistakes, how you can fix them, and ways to avoid them in the future.
Enhance Your Web Presence with SEO
Today, having a website is considered one of the basic tools to a successful business. But how can you make sure your website is reaching your audience? Search engine optimization helps search engines like Google connect your content with your audience. Our SEO session taught attendees what they can do at home to boost their SEO ranking and attract more people to their site, based on their goals and target audiences.
Trello: The Project Management Tool to Streamline Your Farm
Project and task management is a challenge for all farm owners. This breakout session featured a panel of producers that are using Trello on their farms for project management. The discussion focused on how to use the platform for keeping track of equipment maintenance and increasing productivity, as well as managing day-to-day farm responsibilities.
Looking Into the Future
Succession planning can be hard for any business, but family businesses bring about unique challenges—and the farm is no exception. Our planning session focused on how to mentally prepare for the future transition, how to navigate the complex documents that are needed, and how to actually handle the change of control.
Off to the next Adventure! 2021 Winter Conference
While the mountain that is 2020 seems to be a never-ending climb, we plan to meet again at the summit in January 2021 for our annual Winter Conference. You won’t want to miss out on the great content our team will bring to the winter conference, so stay tuned for more details! Subscribe to our blog for updates and follow us on social media to be the first to know of news and updates.