Summit Speaker Bios

THURSDAY KEYNOTE

Barry L. Flinchbaugh, Professor of Agricultural Economics, Kansas State University

Flinchbaugh is a Kansas State ag economist and world authority on U.S. ag policy. He earned a B.S. in Animal Science and M.S. in Agricultural Economics from Penn State University, and a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics at Purdue University. He teaches a junior-senior level course in agricultural policy and receives approximately 100 speaking invitations a year to discuss agricultural and economic policy. Flinchbaugh has participated in countless overseas trade missions and has authored 100-plus publications including an agricultural policy textbook. He Chaired the Commission that authorized the 1996 Farm Bill.

 

FRIDAY KEYNOTE

David Kohl, Ag Economist and professor emeritus, Virginia Tech

Dr. Kohl is Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Finance and Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship at Virginia Tech.  He has traveled over 9 million miles in his career; conducted more than 6,500 workshops and seminars for agricultural audiences; published more than 2,250 articles; and writes for many leading publications, including Farm Futures.  Dr. Kohl was recently inducted into the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Hall of Fame. His personal involvement with agriculture and interaction with key industry players provide a unique perspective into future trends of the agricultural industry and economy.

Max Armstrong, Director of Broadcasting, Farm Progress

For more than 40 years Max Armstrong’s broadcasts have been viewed and heard by millions of farmers, ranchers and consumers. Max is host of TV’s This Week In AgriBusiness, as well as Farm Progress America and Max Armstrong’s Midwest Digest on radio. He is a weekend voice at Chicago radio powerhouse WGN, where he has been heard on agriculture broadcasts with his colleague Orion Samuelson every week since 1977. A past president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting, Max grew up on a southern Indiana grain and livestock farm and earned a degree from Purdue University.

Chris B. Barron, President of Carson and Barron Farms, Inc. 

Chris graduated from the University of Dubuque in 1992 with a degree in Communications. That year Chris, along with his brother-in-law, took over their Pioneer Sales agency, which had been run by his father for 22 years. More recently, Chris developed a new business model to assist producers with Multi-Generational Growth through his business “Ag View Solutions LLC.” Chris and his wife Alissa work as a team who consult across the country helping Ag businesses and farmers with multiple business decisions that include networking, merging, value assessment and margin management.

Matt Bennett, Farmer, Grain Market Analyst
Matt is a Windsor, Ill., farmer and former grain elevator owner. He is Channel Seed’s grain marketing consultant and holds a Series 3 brokerage license doing business through AgMarket.Net, Farm Division of JSA. He specializes in formulating risk-management strategies for corn, soybean farmers and livestock producers. A graduate of University of Illinois, Matt and his wife Tiffany live on the family’s centennial farm where they are raising their five children. He owns and operates the 3,000-acre corn and soybean farm with his father while raising 30 head of registered Angus cows.

Roger Bernard, Senior Policy Analyst, IHS Markit

Roger Bernard provides insight and analysis on farm, trade, tax, economic, energy and transportation policy for Informa Economics IEG. Prior to joining Informa in 2011, Mr. Bernard spent more than 24 years with Pro Farmer, including 11 years in Washington, D.C. He also served as Washington and Policy Editor for Farm Journal magazine. In his current role at Informa, he provides policy analysis for various products and works closely with IEG's European-based publications and web-based platforms. Mr. Bernard began his career in broadcast journalism after attending the University of Minnesota and Brown Institute in Minneapolis. He currently resides and works from his home in north-central Iowa on acreage west of Cedar Falls.

Kirk Berry, Iowa farmer

Kirk, from Brooklyn, Iowa, farms around 1,700 acres of corn & soybeans in Jasper and Poweshiek counties. He attended Iowa State University and graduated in Ag Studies and Agronomy. He has been cash renting ground since 2016. He has a series 3 commodity brokerage license with Frontier Futures. He has experience as a grain merchandiser with Cargill and as a grain marketing specialist with Key co-op.

Eduardo de Bortoli, Aurora Seeds, Brazil

Eduardo De Bortoli is an Agricultural Engineer, graduated from the Federal University of Santa Maria (UFSM), Postgraduate in Agricommerce at Massey University in New Zealand. He works in the management of seed production fields at his family company, Sementes Aurora in Cruz Alta / RS, which has over 9,000 hectares in production and more than 30 years in seed expertise. Eduardo represents the third generation of the family involved with agribusiness and a more technological way of doing agriculture, rationalizing inputs and maximizing results. 

Curt Covington, Executive Vice President, Chief Credit Officer, Farmer Mac    

Curt is responsible for managing the $20.7 billion ag loan portfolio as well as the credit administration, underwriting, and client services functions for Farmer Mac, the nation’s secondary market for agr credit. Curt’s extensive experience in ag lending spans over four decades, and his passion for rural America developed at a young age on his family’s grape and tree nut farm in the farming community of Selma, CA. He earned his undergraduate degree in finance from the University of Southern California and his Masters in Agribusiness from Santa Clara University. 

Drew DeSutter, Illinois farmer

Drew is a full-time farmer on his family’s fourth generation, 3,500-acre row crop farm in western Illinois. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Ag Business, Farm Management from the University of Illinois and has since participated in leadership programs like Agricultural Leaders of Tomorrow, Cultivating Master Farmers, and Leaders to Washington. He is the 2020 Illinois Farm Bureau State Young Leader Chair, and serves as a director on his county Farm Bureau board. Drew is also President of the Knox County Corn Growers Association. His favorite job is his role as “dad” to his two young daughters.

Ken Eriksen, Senior Vice President, IHS Markit

Eriksen is head of Client Advisory and Development, and Energy and Transportation at Informa, a leading business intelligence, academic publishing and events firm. Prior to joining the company Eriksen worked for USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service as an agricultural statistician. While at USDA he worked for the Agricultural Marketing Service on its transportation and marketing program, conducting research and analysis on domestic and international transportation issues. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agribusiness and agricultural economics from Washington State University. 

Dave Fogel, vice president, Advanced Trading, Inc.

Dave is a Vice President with Advance Trading, Inc., and has been with the organization since 1984. He has served on the company's Board of Directors since 1986 and mentors close to 25 Advance Trading branch brokers with clientele focused on corn, soybeans and wheat production as well as livestock/end-user accounts. Fogel helped build the company’s Advance Risk Management philosophy and has been involved in the ag industry for the past 29 years. He is a 1981 graduate of Illinois State University with a degree in Business Administration. 

Jeremy Groeteke, Digital Ag Lead, Pioneer

Jeremy leads U.S. Pioneer and Crop protection digital projects that are agronomy and product-oriented, and serves as the U.S. connect point to all stakeholders in the Digital Ag space – including Predictive Ag (R&D), Data Science and Informatics (DSI), Granular, Global Commercial Effectiveness, Core IT, and U.S. Marcomm.

Scott Henry, Iowa Farmer

Scott Henry is a Farmer and Partner at LongView Farms, a 4th generation family farm owned and operated by the Henry Family. He is responsible for business growth & strategy, process management, and the implementation of precision technology on LongView's row crop operation in central Iowa.  LongView also raises seed corn and seed beans for area seed companies and offers a full range of custom farming services for farm managers, investors, and absentee landowners.

Ben Hushon, Partner, The Mill

Ben is a partner at The Mill, a full-service farm supply, lawncare, livestock and pet food retail business with seven locations in the Chesapeake Bay area. As part of its agricultural business, Ben oversees five agronomists who serve farmers operating in six counties in Maryland and Pennsylvania where their farmland is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Ben and his team partner with these farmers to try new production practices, products, and technology, with an aim toward better ROI and protecting the bay’s fragile ecosystems. Ben was born and raised on a dairy farm in Delta, Pennsylvania.

Bruce Knight, Principal and Founder, Strategic Conservations Solutions, LLC

Bruce is a nationally recognized expert on conservation, agriculture and the environment, serving in the Bush Administration at USDA as Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and as Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. After leaving USDA, Knight founded Strategic Conservation Solutions, providing services to a range of clients in agriculture, conservation and sustainability. A third-generation rancher and farmer and lifelong conservationist, Knight operates a diversified grain and cattle operation in South Dakota using no-till and rest rotation grazing systems. Knight serves on the board of the Soil Health Institute and the Soil and Water Conservation Society. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University.

Lucio Feijó Lopes, Lawyer

Lúcio has a master’s degree in international financial law, University of Boston. He focuses on legal advice to Brazilian and foreign companies and financial institutions in international trade, financing through financial and capital markets, mergers and acquisitions, and venture capital/private equity. He also covers debt restructuring and reorganization plans. His experience includes advising clients on financial, corporate and commercial transactions in excess of $ 10 billion.

Hugh MacGillivray, Chief Commercial Officer, Anuvia Plant Nutrients

Hugh is a sales, marketing and business development professional with more than 30 years’ ag experience. Hugh has worked with multi-national corporations and startups in Canada, Germany and the U.S. Prior to joining Anuvia, he was the head of Marketing and Business Development for Arysta LifeScience North America and head of Arysta LifeScience Canada. Hugh has also held key roles with Cargill Hybrids Seeds, Rooster.com, and Hoechst/AgrEvo/Aventis. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from University of Manitoba and completed the Executive Marketing Management Program at Western University.

Carlotta Mast, Market Leader, New Hope Network, Senior Vice President of Content, Informa Markets

Carlotta Mast manages the conference, content and digital products portfolio for New Hope Network, the leading events and information services company for the natural & organic products industry. She also leads the content strategy and team for the Informa Markets Health & Nutrition group. With 20 years of experience, Carlotta has her finger on the pulse of new health, wellness and natural product trends and the forces shaping consumer attitudes and behaviors. Carlotta is a frequent speaker at industry events and conferences and has been interviewed about the natural products industry, regulatory issues and market performance by media outlets including The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, NPR, ABC News, BusinessWeek and many others.

Elyssa McFarland, Iowa farmer

Elyssa farms corn, soybeans, and beef with her family near Columbus Junction, Iowa. Growing up, she liked to get her hands dirty on the farm. A passion for soil science lead McFarland to earn a Bachelor of Science in agronomy from Iowa State University and a dual Master's degree in Agronomy and Soil Science from University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2012, she began renting a farm while also attending Iowa State. In addition to farming, McFarland also works in soil research, sustainable agriculture, and non-profit development.

Gabriela Nichel, agronomist, Brazilian farmer

Gabriela is an agronomist with a degree from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), an MBA in Business Management at the Getúlio Vargas Foundation, and has become a digital influencer through her YouTube videos on a Climate FieldView channel. She manages with her family the Boa Vista Farm in Chiapetta, which has 3,000 hectares (7,350 acres) in production.

Steve Pitstick, Illinois farmer

Steve is an innovative grower who combines a passion for agronomics, business and technology to bring new methods to his 2,300-acre Maple Park, Ill., row-crop farm. As an early adopter of technology, Steve utilizes the latest and most innovative equipment and science available. He has worked in various levels of collaboration with 640 Labs, Trace Genomics, Aker, Mavrx, FieldView, Google X, Cultivian Sandbox and Microsoft Farm Beats. Steve continually seeks improvements in more granular data collection, modeling systems and precision equipment. His strong personal level of engagement with crops from soil sampling, tillage, planting, spraying, scouting and harvest allows him to understand the balance of agronomy, technology and business needed to succeed in a highly competitive environment.  

Bruce Rastetter, CEO, founder, Summit Ag

Bruce is CEO and founder of Iowa-based Summit Ag, a farm management and ag investment company with grain, livestock, and biofuel holdings in the U.S. and South America. He grew up on his family’s 300-acre farm outside Alden, Iowa, later attending Ellsworth Community College and the University of Iowa. After graduating he returned to his roots to start his own feed management business. The success of the business led him to additional start-ups — a building construction entity and a swine production operation — later merging the three businesses into Heartland Pork Enterprises. He guided Heartland’s acquisition by Christensen Farms to become the 4th largest U.S. pork producer. Summit Agricultural Group, headquartered in northern Iowa, includes extensive grain and meat production while maintaining a strong environmental commitment with thousands of acres of conservation land.

Chad Rockow, Iowa farmer

Chad and his family farm near Durant, Iowa. He is a 1997 graduate of Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in Ag Business, Finance & Farm Management. He started his ag career working at a bank as an Assistant vice president ag loan officer. He began farming full time in 2004 and now grows corn and soybeans on 1,500 acres, plus an additional 2,500 acres of various custom work including sprayer application. His farm operation also involves hog finishing, a spray foam insulation business, and rental real estate. 

Tim Schaefer, founder, Encore Consultants

Tim Schaefer guides large, successful farm operations, helping them get and keep a competitive edge. His tools are peer groups via the Encore Executive Farmer Network, transition planning, business growth planning, and executive coaching. His print column, Transitions & Strategies, appears regularly in Farm Futures and online at FarmFutures.com. He is a Certified Family Business Advisor, Certified Business Coach and Certified Financial Planner. Raised on a successful family farm, his first business venture was selling sweet corn door to door with an Oliver 70.

Guilherme Scheffer, CEO of Grupo Scheffer

Guilherme carries one of the most traditional agricultural surnames in Brazil. Over 3 years ago his father, Eliseu Maggi Scheffer, founded the Scheffer Group, which today produces around 340,000 tonnes of grain on more than 120,000 hectares (300,000 acres) spread over farms in Mato Grosso do Sul. Since taking over the group's financial management 15 years ago, he has been working on implementing a management model with mechanisms typical of large multinationals, whose goal was to set foot in a habitat still little explored by rural entrepreneurs: the financial market. At age 37, Guilherme is one of the examples of a new generation of producers who are beginning to take over their families' business, with the autonomy to apply in practice the knowledge acquired during their years of study.

Felipe Schneider, Brazilian farmer

Felipe is affiliated with Brazilian ag retailer Agroluz, and helps run the family farm in Mato Grosso, Brazil.

Darren Unland, BASF Technical Marketing Manager

Darren provides technical leadership, training and product recommendations for glufosinate and isoxaflutole products. He has more than 20 years of experience in herbicide development. During his career, he has contributed to the screening, development, launch and support of several well-known herbicides. He holds a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education and a master’s degree in weed science from Kansas State University.

Brad Wade, Illinois farmer

Brad has been growing corn and soybeans in his family operation near McLean, Ill., since 1989. After graduating from Illinois state, he spent 10 years in ag retail and 15 years in the aerial application business. His operation has now grown to 3,000-5,000 acres and his sons, daughter and son-in-law are back farming with him. Wade’s family farm continues to push yield to the limit each year by testing early planting dates, using fungicides on every acre, and focusing on agronomics to make decisions.

Ron Wulfkuhle, Head of Seed, Farmers Business Network

Ron’s background includes U.S. and international seed industry experience. He has spent his career in the farming and biotech industries. He also has spent his career in seed management and strategy, seed treatment and agrochemicals, plant genetics and plant biotech commercialization. Ron is a graduate of Kansas State University and was raised on a farm in northeast Kansas, which his dad and brother still operate today.

Bryan Young, Weed Science Professor, Purdue University

Bryan is currently focused on teaching the molecular characterization and management of herbicide-resistance biotypes of waterhemp, Palmer amaranth, giant ragweed and horseweed. He has received numerous awards and honors from Purdue, including the Seed for Success award and Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching award in his department. He’s also been involved in multiple studies and publications from analyzing the power of the spray droplet to studying glyphosate-resistant crops.