2015 ASAC Conference

Annual Meeting Collage

The 2015 Conference for the American Society of Agricultural Consultants is set for November 1-3, in Memphis, Tennessee!

Tomorrow’s Agriculture…TODAY!

Get information on hotel accommodations here.

See a snapshot of the conference agenda here.

Online registration is coming soon!

Brown to Head ASAC Leadership Team

Norm Brown, shown here addressing the 2014 ASAC Conference, has been elected to head the organization’s leadership team for the upcoming year.

Norm Brown, shown here addressing the 2014 ASAC Conference, has been elected to head the organization’s leadership team for the upcoming year.

Norman Brown, CAC, president of FBS Systems, Inc., based in Aledo, IL, was elected ASAC President by the members of the American Society of Agricultural Consultants while at the organization’s annual conference held in St. Louis in late October. Prior to this he had served as the group’s vice president/secretary and president elect.

Moving into the president-elect spot for the consultants group is Erin Pirro, CAC, a farm business consultant with Farm Credit East, Enfield, CT. Prior to moving into the ‘chairs’ of the organization, Pirro had served as chief financial officer with oversight for ASAC finances and budgets. She will automatically move into the president’s position in the next business year.

Julie Strain,  a sales engineer with Red Wing Software, Red Wing, MN, is the new ASAC Vice President/Secretary. She will automatically move up the ‘chairs’ to president-elect in 2016.

Thirteen past ASAC Presidents, representing 14 terms of office, were feted during a special luncheon held October 20 during the organization’s annual conference which was held in St. Louis.   Front row from left, with year of service, are: Roy C. Ferguson II, Ph.D., CAC, 1991; Gary Wagner, CAC, 2011; Peggy Raisanen, CAC, 2010; Paige Gilligan, CAC, 2009, 2012; John M. Jackson, CAC, 1998. Back row, from left: William Zweigbaum, CAC, 2008; Robert E. Lee, Ph.D., CAC, 1993; Donald W. Gillings, CAC, 2002; Sam N. Bartee, CAC, 2006; Michael H. Salisbury, CAC, 1997; Kenneth M. Hilton, CAC, 2007; Russell D. Morgan, CAC, 2013; and, Bill Helming, CAC, 1984.

Thirteen past ASAC Presidents, representing 14 terms of office, were feted during a special luncheon held October 20 during the organization’s annual conference which was held in St. Louis.
Front row from left, with year of service, are: Roy C. Ferguson II, Ph.D., CAC, 1991; Gary Wagner, CAC, 2011; Peggy Raisanen, CAC, 2010; Paige Gilligan, CAC, 2009, 2012; John M. Jackson, CAC, 1998. Back row, from left: William Zweigbaum, CAC, 2008; Robert E. Lee, Ph.D., CAC, 1993; Donald W. Gillings, CAC, 2002; Sam N. Bartee, CAC, 2006; Michael H. Salisbury, CAC, 1997; Kenneth M. Hilton, CAC, 2007; Russell D. Morgan, CAC, 2013; and, Bill Helming, CAC, 1984.

Replacing Pirro as chief financial officer for ASAC is Carol Starkie, a farm business advisor with Farm Credit East, Bedford, NH. This is a 3-year term with the organization.

Kurt Ehnle, CAC, with Ferguson Group (Peoria), Edelstein, IL, was elected to a 2-year term on the ASAC Board of Directors. He has served as a board member in the past. Also elected to a 2-year term was Ry Ferguson II, CAC, Ferguson Group (Tulsa), Broken Arrow, OK. Continuing in their second year as directors are James Kastanek, principal with Total Agribusiness Systems, Albany, MN, and Gary Snider, CAC,  a farm business consultant with Farm Credit East, Mayvlle, NY.

Pirro Named to Ag’s 40 Under 40 Roster

It’s been quite a summer in the professional life of ASAC CFO Erin Pirro, CAC, Farm Credit East, ACA, based in Enfield, CT.

Earlier this summer she was named a recipient of the Hartford (Connecticut) Business Journal’s 40 under 40 List, given annually to the Greater Hartford men and women who have accomplished much in the early stages of their careers and have the potential to go on to do even greater things.
Mid-way through the season she was granted her CAC designation.

Now she has been named an honoree of Vance Publishing’s 40 Under 40 Award!

In the letter received by Pirro September 8 announcing her selection as an honoree, Joelle Stephens, manager of agribusiness market operations for Vance Publishing, wrote: “We are excited to announce that you have been chosen as one of our Top 40 Honoree’s for this year’s 40 Under
40 Award! With close to 200 nomina- tions from various industry segments in agriculture, it is quite an honor and we look forward to working with you in the upcoming weeks to get your feature story written, as well as throughout next year at different industry events. A special thanks to your Nominator – they knew what a great Honoree you’d make!”

“We are very proud of what you are doing in the name of agriculture and to be able to present you with this award! Way to go!!.”

According to Stephens, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), says global food produc- tion must double by 2050 to head off mass hunger. Agriculture will have no choice but to be more productive. Increases will need to come mostly from yield growth and improved cropping intensity rather than by farming more land.

“Vance Publishing, a leader in agriculture publishing with 10 titles surrounding different segments of agriculture, is committed to bringing awareness to the 2050 Challenge and the world-wide food crisis surrounding it. Our aim is to establish an influential network of young agricultural innovators under the age of 40 to join their voice with ours to emphasize that all agricultural segments must work together to meet this challenge. This is how the 40 Under 40 Awards was born.”

“Each year,” she continues, “Vance Publishing accepts nominations from our readers, advertisers and anyone involved in agriculture. The nominees must be involved with a business engaged in food production, food pro- cessing, food safety, food research, food transportation or a group, organization, association or university that serves those industries. From there we have a panel of judges from various industries go through the nomina- tions and score each submission. We then take the top 40 to honor as the year’s class of 40 Under 40 winners.

Pirro will be featured in the November/December issues of Vance Publishing’s agribusiness publications and also on the www.40under40ag.com website and Facebook pages.

Erin joined ASAC in 2011 and immediately jumped on board as the organization’s Chief Financial Officer. She will resign that position at the ASAC Annual Confer- ence in October 2014 to be placed into nomination as the organization’s President-Elect.

Erin is a farm business consultant and assistant vice presi- dent for Farm Credit East, ACA, Her work is centered on successfully helping customers analyze their businesses from many angles in order to pinpoint methods for im- proving their profitability. In addition, Pirro leads First Pi- oneer’s Agricultural Retail Benchmarks, which is a com- prehensive consulting program for owners and managers of farm markets, garden centers, nurseries, wineries and other ag retail businesses. She provides similar services for wholesale greenhouse and nursery operations.

“Her work, insight, energy and total focus on helping customers increase their business profitability and overall success has been nothing short of impressive. Her cus- tomers praise her strategic advice as much as they appre- ciate its practical slant,” says John Caltabiano, executive vice president and regional manager for Farm Credit East.

Adds Keith Stechschulte, vice president and manager of the Enfield, CT branch office: “Erin deserves these awards and all the high praise about her and her work. Congratu- lations Erin on all of these recent honors and career mile- stones. Everyone at Farm Credit East is very proud of you and all you do for agriculture.”

Consultants to Discuss Impact of Big Data

The impact of Big Data and how it can best be used by professional ag consultants and their clients will be a primary discussion point at the annual conference of the American Society of Agricultural Consultants which will be held Oct. 19 – 21 in St. Louis.

Download the Agenda and Registration Form for more information.

“Big Data is everywhere but delivers limited value and clarity unless interpreted through objective knowledge and context” says Norman Brown, CAC, president of FBS Systems, Inc., and overall chairman of the ASAC annual conference “The Big Data session will look beyond the current debate over data access and ownership and envision how third-party consultants can add true value to all segments of agriculture.”

Brown explains that a panel of industry leaders will take part in a discussion during the conference. “Big Data: Cultivating Insight from the Cloud to the Client” will feature: John Jansen, director of sales at Climate Corporation; Dr. Terry Griffin, and independent consultant formerly of the University of Arkansas and CrescoAg. LLC, Memphis, TN; and user-producer. The discussion will be moderated by Robert Merhle, Ph.D., CAC, Mid-South Ag Data, LLC.

“We are looking at this uniquely-qualified group to give us a definitive overview of Big Data so we can work together for the common goal of feeding the planet,” Brown says.

The overall theme of the conference will focus on looking ahead in ag practices as well as business planning, he notes.

There will also be discussion groups focusing on networking with producers, supervising client transitions, and managing effective communications with the next generation taking over the leadership roles on farms and ranches,” Brown adds. ”We often forget that the new generation that is taking over managing farms may be using media that is different than what today’s generation of consultants have grown used to,” he explains. “We will explore the options that are there.”

The luncheon program on October 21 will be a joint event between the Ag Consultants group and members of the St. Louis Agri Business Club. Jeanne Bernick, editor of Top Producer magazine, will address the combined audiences.

All events are being held at the Embassy Suites St. Louis Airport.

CAPS Video Channel Available

Capital Agricultural Property Services has several farm management videos available on its YouTube channel.

Here’s one on land lease basics:

Conference: “What’s Next for Farmland Values?”

What’s happening to farmland values and what may be in store in the future are the subjects of the 2014 Illinois Farmland Values Conference which will be hosted by the Illinois Society of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers which will be held in Bloomington, Illinois, on March 20.

“We’ve all see an easing of prices being paid for farmland across the state and I think we’re accepting that this was inevitable. But what’s next?” asks Dale Aupperle, AFM, ARA, Heartland Ag Group, Ltd., Forsyth, chair of the annual ISPFMRAS Farmland Values program. “The speakers and presentations that are on the schedule for this year’s Farmland Values Conference will address that subject square on.

“One of the recent drivers on land values has been the near-zero percent interest rates,” he explains. “But that could very well be changing with new leadership at the Federal Reserve Board, and David Oppedahl, at the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago, will be addressing that subject.”

“Dr. Steve Johnson, from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, will look at leases and cash rents from a broader, Midwest perspective. It’s always good to know what’s going on around us so we have benchmarks for comparison,” Aupperle continues.  “Dr. Brent Gloy, from Purdue University, will also offer his perspective on what has been happening, and what likely could happen, from  the farmland values perspective across the entire Midwest.”

“And we’ve just added Dr. Bruce Sherrick from the University of Illinois’ College of ACES to address ‘New Tools and Indicators in Farmland Values.’ This will compare returns on farmland to other assets and potential for developing indexable farmland returns, and demonstrate some useful tools for managing positions in farm real estate,” he says.

There is a $75 registration fee to attend. That includes a copy of the 2014 Illinois Farmland Values Lease Trends Report.  Registrations can be paid at the door and advance registrations aren’t required.

For more information on the conference, go to the ISPFMRA website.

Russ Morgan to Lead Ag Consultants

Russ MorganRussell Morgan, CAC, principal with Convenent Accounting and Tax Services, Paducah, KY, was elected president of the American Society of Agricultural Consultants at the organization’s annual meeting held recently in Alexandria, VA.

Morgan holds bachelors and masters degrees in agricultural economics from the University of Tennessee. He ws employed by the University of Kentucky Extension Services for a number of years before starting his own accounting and consulting service in 2003. He has previously served as the Chief Financial Officer, Vice President and President-Elect of the ASAC organization.

Other newly elected officers for ASAC are: President-Elect Norman Brown, FBS Systems, Inc., Aledo, IL; Vice President Robert Mehrle, Ph.D., CAC, Agricultural Information Management, Lambert, MS, Chief Financial Officer Erin Pirro, Farm Credit East, Enfield, CT, and; Immediate Past President Paige Gilligan, Rabobank, N.A., Fresno, CA.

Elected to the Board of Directors were: Roy Ferguson II, CAC, Ferguson Group (Tulsa), Broken Arrow, OK; James Kastenak, Total Agri-Business Services, Inc., Albany, MN, and; Gary Snider, CAC, Farm Credit East, ACA, Mayville, NY. Continuing in a term on the board is Joseph Kluender, CAC, Farm Family Dynamics, LLC, North Mankato, MN.

ASAC is a non-profit organization centered around raising the standards and image of professional agricultural consultants. As such, it is the only association representing the full range of agricultural consultants.

This month’s issue of the Farm Smart newsletter features information on harvest data, and a 2013-14 trade show schedule.

You can see the full issue here.


FarmSmart Newsletter – September 2013

This month’s issue of the FarmSmart newsletter features lots of conference news and information on some upcoming webinars.

You can see the full issue here.

Update: Glickman and Vroom Added to Conference Agenda


UPDATE: Former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman and current CropLife America CEO Jay Vroom have been added to and round out the program for the upcoming Muddy Boots Conference to be held in Alexandria, VA October 20 through 22.

Glickman currently serves as CoChair of Agree and will address U.S. efforts to meet foot demands with a subtitle – “Can the World Sustain Itself?”

Vroom is CEO of CropLife America, the leading trade association serving the crop protection industry. He will lead the ethics discussion on “Are you consulting or are you selling? Walking the tightrope.”

Both of these presentations will be ones you will NOT WANT TO MISS !!

Download a copy of the updated agenda and registration information here.


Let’s face it, the role of the agricultural consultant has changed in the past few years. Technology continues to sweep through the industry at a pace that challenges even the most tech savvy. It’s easy enough for professionals to get lost in the changes that bombard them daily. Can you imagine the confusion of your clients?

New challenges oftentimes open doors to new opportunities. But where can one go to get their arms around all that is happening?

Start with this special Muddy Boots conference sponsored by the American Society of Agricultural Consultants. This is a three-day event for any and all who are involved with consulting in agriculture today. Whether it’s in the United States, North America, or just about any other place around the world, it’s time to get back to the basics of agricultural consulting.

Download the program with full agenda.

Whether you are new to the industry or a seasoned veteran, this conference has something for you! Points to be addressed at the conference include:

• Who are today’s consultants and where will tomorrow’s come from?

• How do you walk the tightrope between consulting and selling products?

• What are the latest communications tools that will work for you AND your clients?

• What are the opportunities for working with government contracts, whether here or abroad and how do you find out what’s out there?

• It looks as though there will finally be a Farm Bill….what do you need to know about it — an open dialogue with senior USDA staff

• Are you making as much money as you think you should? Is this a job that pays or just a passion that makes you feel good?

• What opportunities are out there today and where will they be tomorrow? Are you ready to get on board?