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IFBF annual meeting provides learning opportunities

From big data to clean water and from beginning farmers to succession planning, Farm Bureau members of all ages will learn about emerging issues and trends during nine educational breakout sessions at the Iowa Farm Bureau’s annual meeting Dec. 3-4 in Des Moines.

"We have a diverse group of speakers and topics that will offer our members ideas and information they can implement on their farms and in their communities," said Barb Lykins, Iowa Farm Bureau (IFBF) director of community re­­sources and annual meeting coordinator.

The educational sessions reflect this year’s annual meeting theme of Generations of Innovation, Lykins said. IFBF’s 95th annual meeting will again be held at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center, formerly Veter­ans Auditorium, at the Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines.

Farm innovations

The first round of educational sessions, which kick off at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 3, include:

Next Generation Innovation. Andrew Pittz of Sawmill Hollow Farm, Jenni Smith of Butcher Crick Farms and Joe Sweeney of Buckeye Fish Company will discuss innovative ideas they are applying on their non-traditional farms to raise products like aronia berries, culinary vegetables for local restaurants and fish in indoor systems.

Innovations in Conservation: How Farmers are Implementing Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Stra­tegy. Farmers Jeff Pape and Doug Adams will share their experiences in establishing wetlands, planting cover crops and installing other conservation practices that are part of Iowa’s ground-breaking Nutrient Reduction Strategy. Also, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey will discuss the progress the state has made so far in implementing the nutrient strategy.

Iowa Drainage Districts: Ben­efits, Regulations and Leadership Issues. Agricultural engineers Dean Lemke and Don Etler will cover the benefits of tiling and the drainage district improvement process, including how project costs are determined and who pays for them. Also, Don Parrish, American Farm Bureau regulatory relations director, will talk about drainage regulations, and Iowa Drainage District Association Executive Director John Torbert will discuss the issue of landowner trustees versus county supervisor trustees as well as knowledge and education needs of trustees.

Data, water, markets

Three more education seminars will commence at 2 p.m. Dec. 3:

Big Data. Billy Tiller, business development director for Grower Information Services Cooperative, and Shane Brueggen with John Deere will discuss the collection, retention and delivery of farm data by third-party sources. Topics will include information security and how the large-scale aggregation of data could affect farmers.

Keeping Water Clean: An Evol­ving Regulatory Environment for Agriculture. Parrish returns for an in-depth look at key water quality issues that are likely to affect Iowa’s crop and livestock farmers in the coming year and to discuss what farmers can do to help Farm Bureau’s fight against unreasonable regulations imposed by federal agencies and court interpretations.

Market & Margin Outlook. Chad Hart, Iowa State University Extension grain market economist, will provide a crop and livestock market outlook and lead a discussion on the importance of making marketing decisions based on profit margins.

Wednesday sessions

The final round of sessions will be held Wednedsay, Dec. 4, starting at 10:30 a.m. Topics are:

Farm Business Succession: Max­­imize Wealth Transfer and Strengthen Your Family Farm Legacy. Jim McCarthy and Jessman Smith with Farm Bureau Financial Services will provide an introduction to farm succession planning, including obstacles to success, family dynamics, how to initiate the discussion among generations and other estate planning tools and concepts.

"Our members have made it clear that farm succession and business planning is an area where they want more information," said Nathan Katzer, IFBF farm business development manager. "It can be a challenge to navigate the strategies for minimizing tax liabilities and securing farm assets for future generations, and to communicate their farm business goals while maintaining family harmony. Through stories and examples from Iowa farm families, we’ll work through the process for getting started and developing a plan for success."

Health Care Reform: What It Means to You. Steve Kammeyer with FBL Health Insurance Serv­ices will offer the latest informa­tion on implementation of the Affordable Care Act with an em­­phasis on how it will impact Farm Bureau members who purchase individual coverage.

Growing our Students Through STEM (Science, Technology, En­­gin­eering and Math). Jeff Weld, director of the Iowa governor’s STEM advisory council; John Carver, superintendent of Howard/Winneshiek County Schools; and Josh Remington, executive director of the Iowa FFA Foundation; will provide an overview of how the government, educators and business partnerships are helping grow STEM education to prepare Iowa’s students for emerging career opportunities.