2023 AFBF Fusion Conference
Breakout Sessions

Saturday, March 4  |  11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Building Leadership One Bridge at a Time 

Dr. Marcea Burnette Whitaker, In Full Bloom Health and Life Coaching 
Leaders are meant to lead others. Leaders are meant to be the lighthouse for the lost. Leaders are meant to bridge the gaps in our organizations. To bridge the gap from chaos to clarity. But leaders can only take others as far as they are willing to go themselves. Leadership starts from the inside out. Learn the 3 secrets to building leadership one bridge at a time.

The Knowledge of Knowing Agriculture

Erica Edwards, Edwards Farms & North Carolina Farm Bureau
During this session, participants will learn the importance of sharing their knowledge and expertise on educating consumers about where their food and fiber comes from. Grow a specific commodity? Want to know how to positively share what you farm? Participants will learn the importance of connecting with their local community and showing the true face of the American farmer. Participants will learn facts and information that can be shared with community leaders, such as local school boards and other community organizations. All participants will build their 'why' and create a plan to share their knowledge of knowing agriculture.

Balancing Your Farm’s Finances

Paul Dorrace, Pastured Providence
Farming is time-consuming enough as it is, who wants to pay attention to balance sheets, income and expense charts, or enterprise profitability? The answer to that question should be “everyone,” but too many times farmers concentrate on operational considerations at the expense (get it?!) of their financial bottom line. Capturing expenses, balancing a budget, accounting for seasonal income and properly allocating expenses to specific enterprises are all critical to any farm’s ultimate success. Learn how to treat your agricultural enterprise as a business, ensuring a better balance between the financial and operational aspects of farming.

Tax Issues Farmers Need to Know

Chris Hesse, Retired CPA
Chris Hesse, a retired CPA specializing in farm income and estate tax matters, will explore tax provisions helpful for farmers to reduce their income and estate taxes. Hear his experiences from his 40 plus years in representing and advocating for farmers and ranchers nationwide.

Saturday, March 4  |  1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Can't Be Stressed and Blessed

Jill Brown, Collisions of Awesomeness
It turns out that everything mom said was true, thank you notes truly are important. Saying thank you is a great way to build a current relationship and maybe even create a new one. Let's create opportunities to have an attitude of gratitude.

2023 Farm Bill Panel

Sam Kieffer, Vice President, Public Policy, AFBF
Cody Lyon, Managing Director, Advocacy & Political Affairs, AFBF
Danny Munch, Economist, AFBF

As Capitol Hill gears up for the 2023 Farm Bill, hear the latest from the AFBF team about what is happening and what you will need to do to pass the next farm bill.

Making the Most of the Member Journey 

Austin Large, Director, Membership & Organization Development, AFBF
Membership growth and retention are key metrics used to determine an organization's health and relevance. Understanding and evaluating the journey members take through your Farm Bureau will help you increase your effectiveness in recruiting, engaging, and retaining members. You'll leave this workshop with new information, proven tactics, and the tools necessary to take your membership to the next level.

Be the Teammate You’ve Always Wanted

Elizabeth Galbreath, Merck Animal Health
Have you ever had a co-worker who didn't meet your expectations or disappointed you with how they showed up for your team? Whether you're just starting in your first job or you're mid-career, there's tremendous value in being a great teammate in both your personal and professional life. This session will help you learn how to strengthen your relationships and build your personal brand by effectively contributing to the teams you’re on.

Communicating with the Public on Biotech, GMO’s and Gene Editing

Hope Hart, Syngenta’s Foresight and Advocacy Lead
Join Hope Hart, Syngenta’s Foresight and Advocacy Lead to talk about how to relate and communicate biotechnology, GMO’s, and gene editing to the general public, outside of Agriculture, in a way that they can connect and appreciate the advantages and safety of the science.


Saturday, March 4  |  3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Sharing the Impact of Farm Bureau: Telling Your Story

Ken Culp III, University of Kentucky, College of Food, Agriculture & Environment
Agricultural stories reported in the media can be inflammatory and misleading. But when no one steps to the microphone, these groups get attention, and their stories gain traction. How can Farm Bureau tell the story of agriculture in a way that is positive and proactive? How can we reaffirm consumer faith in their food? What stories are you sharing with consumers and legislators? Meaningful impact includes a combination of 'value' (dollars) and 'worth' (feelings), coupled with facts, numbers and personal stories of those who have benefitted. This workshop will share tools to gather this information and create a meaningful impact report designed to tell the story of Farm Bureau and agriculture.

Creating Fertile Ground for Mental Wellbeing

Sandy Weaver, Center for Workplace Happiness
On the farm, life is so many things: fulfilling, driven by the seasons, weather and crops and sometimes lonely, even when others are around. From Mother Nature's tantrums, Uncle Sam's shifting priorities and the hard work that farm life entails, even those who are committed to this lifestyle face challenges, doubts and at times, a crisis of faith in themselves. That's when having a science-based set of mental well-being strategies can be the difference between merely surviving and successfully thriving. Not having these strategies can lead people to a decision they can't take back. This session will give participants the tools to maintain their mental well-being.

Farm Family Succession Planning: Picking up the Pace and Productivity

Sherri Noxel, Enterprising Generations
There is no deadline for farm succession planning, consequently, the daily demands of running the farm often take priority over planning for future generations. Succession planning guides and texts are only helpful to those who start and continue their planning work. There are ways to use familiar milestones in farm life to pick up the pace and be more productive in transitioning the farm. With a deeper understanding of the factors that may be behind their planning delay, farm owners can choose strategies to overcome procrastination. This session covers fifteen new techniques to increase personal motivation to start, or restart, this important work. 

Proactively Managing Scope Emissions on Your Farm and Ranch

J.J. Jones and Kristie Larson, National Institute for Animal Agriculture
Sustainability encompasses the interdependencies that exist between the environment, economy, and society. Managing emissions on farms and ranches is a collective, collaborative endeavor.  JJ Jones, Executive Director of the National Institute for Animal Agriculture, will facilitate an interactive session with AFBF members to walk through the 3 levels of scope emissions – direct, indirect, and value chain – to create awareness and highlight opportunities for AFBF members to work proactively in this issue of sustainability. The session will also address ESGs: Environment, Social, and Governance issues that create a comprehensive approach to sustainability.


Sunday, March 5  |  11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Coffee Chat with AFBF Committee Chairs

Stacey Lauwers – Chair, AFBF P&E Committee
Alisha Schwartner – Chair, AFBF YF&R Committee
Isabella Chism – Chair, AFBF Women’s Leadership Committee
Matt Fimon – Incoming Chair, AFBF YF&R Committee

Grab a coffee during the morning coffee break and come enjoy a discussion with the three national committee chairs. In this session they will unpack what they’ve learned about leadership, collaborating across programs, balancing their volunteer involvement with family and farm demands, and navigating misconceptions and nay-sayers. As they engage with the audience, they will also reflect on what benefits they see from committee involvement and their vision for the future of their programs.

Consumer Engagement: A Decade In, What’s Shifting?

Janice Person, Grounded Communications
Agriculture began doing outreach with consumers in earnest about a decade ago as we agreed on target audiences, some of the vocabulary to use and lose, etc. But with the way the world has shifted, what updates should we be making as we reach out to consumers? In this session, we’ll discuss current audience demographics, shifts in urban food scenes, what trends touch most on farmer connectivity and more. We’ll also discuss things we need to consider today and for the next few years as we reach out to consumers.

Not Your Momma’s Mental Health

Adrienne DeSutter, Illinois Farm Bureau Member and Ag Mental Health Specialist
If you’ve ever heard the term “mental health” and thought, “yea, this isn’t for me…” then this workshop is for YOU! Join this unfiltered counselor-turned-farmwife in a candid convo about coping with chaos! Mental health isn't just about depression and suicide, it's about being a better human; for yourself, for your family, and for your farm. This important session will be led by Adrienne DeSutter, an active Farm Bureau member who comes from a farm family in Illinois and holds a Master’s degree in Counseling.    

Giving and Receiving Feedback with Confidence

Elizabeth Galbreath, Merck Animal Health
“Feedback” can be a scary word to those of us who have gotten some harsh feedback or criticism at a challenging time. However, feedback is the key to personal and professional growth and can be one of the most useful tools we have in order to get better. In this workshop, learn more about how to make the process of both giving and receiving feedback less intimidating and more effective through tangible steps and tips to use in your relationships at work and at home. Gain confidence and set yourself apart from your peers by having important conversations for everyone’s benefit, including your own.

Breaking Down the Barriers: Understanding Marketing & Risk Management for your Whole Team

Jared Morgan and Danny O’Bryan, Stone X
We get it. Marketing isn’t easy. If it was that simple, we'd all be selling at market highs. You must recognize the concept of managing risk to protect profit margins, monitor how the markets behave, and know the various tools available to manage risk in those markets. We will break it down to the basics, so you can understand the key concepts and terms of efficient and proactive marketing. Like the title of this weekend’s conference, farms are a fusion of men and women, older and younger, who can all contribute to the present and future prospects of the operation as part of your risk management team.

Cultivating Influential Advocates

Cody Lyon, Managing Director, Advocacy & Political Affairs, AFBF
Our advocacy programs strive to make a significant difference in the lives of farmers and ranchers, and their communities. The best place to start is with “why we advocate.” Farm Bureau needs champion advocates like you. We need farmers and ranchers to stand up for ag policies. Whether you are a leader or just getting started in Farm Bureau, you can raise your voice to influence policies impacting agriculture. This session will offer actionable techniques and examples to help refresh and renew your advocacy practices.

Sunday, March 5  |  2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

2023 Farm Economic Outlook

Danny Munch, Economist, AFBF
Curious about the implications of widespread drought and natural disasters on ag markets? Wondering about the latest status of transportation market failures? Want to learn more about the top market-moving issues for 2023? AFBF’s Danny Munch will dive in during this economic outlook session.

Crucial Conversations

Jordan Henry, Director of Leadership and Organizational Training, AFBF
Crucial Conversations is a training session designed to teach skills for creating alignment and agreement by fostering open dialogue around high-stakes, emotional or risky topics – at all levels of our organization. By learning how to speak and be heard, we’ll surface the best ideas, make good decisions and then be able to act on our decisions with unity and commitment. This training is based on the New York Time’s bestselling book  “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High.”

Work Life Balance: No, We’re Really Not OK!

Jackie Mundt, Kanza Cooperative Association 
Morgan Taylor Norris, Taylor Oil Company, Inc.  
Do you feel like you’re constantly juggling responsibilities and can’t seem to keep all the balls in the air? Work, farm, family, volunteer organizations, and you can’t seem to finish your to do list. This session will remind you that you’re not alone. Join us for a conversation about how to recognize when you’re off-balance and some strategies to help with the constant juggle. We promise laughter, encouragement and companionship as we all continue our journeys to find the elusive balance!


Jill Brown, Collisions of Awesomoness
Booze, business cards, barbecue, bosses; what could possibly go wrong? Learn how to make a lasting first impression during social hour gatherings. Hands will be shook, introductions will be perfected.

Be an Ag Literacy Champion in Your Community 

Chris Young, AFBFA Program Coordinator
Patti Fisher, AFBFA Outreach Team
Frustrated with the lack of ag literacy in your own community? Learn how you can be part of the Foundation Outreach Team and a leader within ag literacy. In this session, you will get hands-on experience with the newest resources and tips to engage in ag literacy learning. Hear from an Outreach Team member, help brainstorm new and needed resources, and connect with fellow passionate Farm Bureau members about helping others understand agriculture.