2021 Farm Bureau FUSION Reimagined Conference




Friday, March 12 - Round One: 1:30 p.m.

Effective Storytelling

David Hafner, Derek Orth, Kyle Wilson; Partners in Advocacy Leadership (PAL) Members

Steinbeck once said, “If a story is not about the hearer, he will not listen. And here I make a rule—a great and interesting story is about everyone or it will not last.” How do we ensure that the stories we tell will last? In this session, three experienced storytellers in agriculture from across the country will highlight elements that make a story worth listening to.


Speaking Confidently About Hot Topics

Steve Ammerman, Director of Communications for New York Farm Bureau

Liam Migdail, Director of Member Communications for Pennsylvania Farm Bureau

Matt Hargreaves, Vice President, Communications & Utah Farm and Fork Editor for Utah Farm Bureau

Improve your communication skills and increase your comfort level when responding to consumer questions surrounding modern-day agriculture and key issues of the day. In this session, state Farm Bureau communication specialists will share tips on handling tough topics and questions. Their insight and experience will provide an overview to help you formulate key points and messaging that will allow you to share your authentic experience and respond to consumer questions. Those who attend this session will be able to sign up for an optional “bonus coaching session” to help you prepare to deliver your message confidently.


Farm Economic Outlook for 2021

John Newton, Chief Economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation

Veronica Nigh, Economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation

Michael Nepveux, Economist, Public Affairs for the American Farm Bureau Federation

Shelby Myers, Economist Analyst for the American Farm Bureau Federation

What’s in store for crop and livestock prices in 2021? Will exports keep up their robust pace? How do the most recent CFAP programs work? What policies are likely to impact the farm economy in 2021? How do carbon markets work? AFBF economists will answer these questions and more in a Q&A session with FUSION 2021 attendees.


Financial Planning: Keeping the Farm or Ranch Intact for Future Generations

Paul Neiffer, Principal of CliftonLarsonAllen LLP

Long term financial planning has never been more critical. Both the tax rates that farmers and ranchers pay and many of the deductions and credits that they use to reduce their taxable income are temporary. And with the average age of farm operators on the rise, transition planning in more important than ever. This session will outline key decision points and offer practical suggestion for planning.


Friday, March 12 - Round Two: 3:00 p.m. 

Lessons Learned: Family Farm Transitions        

Greg Corcoran, American Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Rachers Committee

Paul Kirsch, Owner Kirsch Family Farms, Inc.

Ron Gibson, President, Utah Farm Bureau Federation

Neil Durant, American Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Rachers Committee

This session will include a panel discussion from farmers diving in, right in the middle and on the other side of the trenches of generational family transitions. This panel will bring a unique perspective of lessons learned at each stage of transitioning your operation.


Advocating for Agriculture through Social Media

Beth Hodge, Jenny Holtermann, Erika Archie; Partners in Advocacy Leadership (PAL) Members

Let’s face it, during COVID lockdown and shelter in place we all spent way too much time on our phones scrolling social media. Did you learn? Or did you just consume? Join in and learn how to create engaging posts to tell your agriculture story to connect everyday consumers with production agriculture!


Washington Update: What’s Happening in the 117th Congress and the Biden Administration

Ryan Yates, Managing Director, Public Policy for the American Farm Bureau Federation

Pat Wolff, Senior Director, Congressional Relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation

Allison Crittenden, Director, Congressional Relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation

Scott Bennett, Director, Congressional Relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation

Don Parrish, Senior Director, Requlatory Relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation

Dave Salmonsen, Senior Director, Congressional Relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation

The 117th Congress is underway with leadership on both sides of the aisle setting legislative priorities and strategies. In addition, President Biden continues to establish his administration and roll out his agenda for the next four years. This workshop will feature the AFBF Public Policy team breaking down the current political landscape.


What's Next? Focusing on Your Evolution as a Farm Bureau Leader

James Henderson, State Board Member and Partners in Advocacy Leadership (PAL) Member

Kalena Bruce, Past YF&R Chair and County Board Member

Scott VanderWal, Vice President of American Farm Bureau Federation

Milosh McAdoo, Collegiate Farm Bureau Leader

These folks have been there, done that, got the t shirt and while they are still serving Farm Bureau, they are happy to share lessons learned from experiences in the field at all levels of the organization. Join the multigenerational panelists as they discuss concrete next steps to help you along you Farm Bureau leadership journey.


Saturday, March 13 - Round One: 1:30 p.m. 

Women's Communications Boot Camp Basics   

Terry Gilbert, Former American Farm Bureau Women's Leadership Committee Chair

Johnna Miller, Director of Media & Advocacy Training for the American Farm Bureau Federation

Adrienne DeSutter, American Farm Bureau Woman's Communication Boot Camp Graduate

Are you a woman longing to plant the seed of understanding about agriculture? Would you like to beef up your ag communications skills? Do you long to cultivate a dynamic relationship with your legislators so they turn to you when they seek understanding about how an issue will affect agriculture?

If so, Women’s Communications Boot Camp is for you! Join us to learn more about the program and hear from a panel of graduates and staff. This elite training program is offered by the staff at American Farm Bureau and the Women’s Leadership Committee.


Balancing Farm, Family, and Farm Bureau

Matthew McClanahan, Sarah Ison, James Henderson; Partners in Advocacy Leadership (PAL) Members

In 2021, there is constant information coming at us from phones, computers, and even smartwatches. The attention required can feel overwhelming, especially as we volunteer our time to causes we care about, all while trying to maintain balance in our personal and professional lives. In this session, we will discuss three different ways volunteers choose to contribute to the organization while balancing their career, farm, and family.


Fostering Inclusive Teams and Building Community Across Our Differences

Maria Morukian, President of MSM Global Consulting, LLC

Organizations and teams thrive when everyone feels a sense of belonging and feels valued for their unique set of talents, characteristics, and life experiences.  However, many teams struggle to practice true inclusion for everyone. It's often the small, subtle behaviors we unconsciously engage in that tell people they are valued and respected...or not. During this session, learn about these behaviors and practice how to make others feel included on your team.


Keeping it Real: Highlighting Agriculture Advocacy

Will Sutton, NBC Titan Games Runner-Up, Titan Games

Melissa Burns, Tough as Nails Cast Member,CBS

Hear two successful stories on engaging and advocating for agriculture through unique media opportunities. Will Sutton, competitor on NBC’s Titan Games, and Melissa Burns, cast member on CBS’s Tough as Nails, discuss how they were able to represent the agricultural community through their experiences with reality TV.


Saturday, March 13 - Round One: 3:00 p.m. 

Maximum Impact with Federal Lawmakers: Moving Your DC Advocacy Game from Good to Great!

Cody Lyon, Managing Director, Advocacy and Political Affairs Programs for American Farm Bureau Federation

Riley Bushue, Director of Congressional Realtions and Export Programs at Northwest Horticultural Council

Amelia Kent, Owner/Operator of Kent Farms

Angela Bailey, Owner/Operator of Verna Jean Nursery

There is no shortage of issues facing our lawmakers.  With a steady stream of constituents presenting competing priorities, what are the best tools you can use to create maximum impact?  Join us for this panel conversation where we discuss powerful advocacy tools, effective engagement strategies and how to craft compelling stories that will move your DC advocacy game from good to great.


The Secret to Effective Membership Recruitment and Engagement

Jessica Cabrera, Managing Director, Member Engagment for American Farm Bureau Federation

Are you ready to be let in on the secret of membership recruitment and engagement? Join in on this session where we will explore the membership experience, discuss how to build member buy-in, and review an effective recruitment processes you can follow to yield great results. This session will be jam packed with information to grow and engage your membership.


Are you keeping up with 'Smart' Technology? 

Chad Colby, Owner of Colby AgTech

This session will share the latest in smart technology, with a focus on understanding how to be more efficient with newest technology.  From drones to smart devices, it's hard to know where to start.  This session will give you a road map!


Farm State of Mind - Responding to the Challenges of Rural Mental Health

Randy Roecker, Owner of Roecker's Rolling Acres LLC

Marshal Sewell, Territory Sales Manager at Bayer CropScience LLC

Meredith Bernard, Farmer Influencer with This Farm Wife

Chad Vorthmann, Executive Director of Colorado Farm Bureau

Back-to-back years of a challenging farm economy and weather disasters, followed by the Coronavirus pandemic, have taken their toll on many farmers, ranchers and their families. Rural stress can be especially harmful due to the risk of isolation and a go-it-alone attitude among farmers and ranchers. Raising awareness of the issues and funding for rural health care services, including tele-health, and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health will encourage farm and ranch families to seek help and help each other. This session will feature different perspectives on the issue of rural mental health and information about Farm Bureau’s efforts to respond to this key moment in agriculture.