Summit Speaker Bios

Gary Baise, lawyer, Illinois farmer

Gary is an Illinois farmer and trial attorney at the law firm Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC. He also serves as outside General Counsel for several national agriculture organizations, including U.S. Grains Council, Agricultural Retailers Association, National Sorghum Producers and the American Soybean Association. He has defended clients, including farm producers, in several of the leading wetlands enforcement cases in federal courts. Gary organized President Trump’s agricultural team of advisers. He was the first Chief of Staff to the first U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator. He owns a family farm in Jacksonville, Ill., and writes a weekly column, Defending Agriculture, for FarmFutures.com.

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

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, grain market analyst, Illinois farmer
Matt Bennett, with Bennett Consulting, is a Windsor, Illinois, farmer and former grain elevator owner. He is Channel Seed’s grain marketing consultant and holds a Series 3 brokerage license. He brokers for and manages the Windsor branch of Bates Commodities, Inc., a CFTC registered, and NFA Member introducing broker. Matt’s analysis and commentary on the grain markets appears on various TV and radio stations across the Midwest. 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 a 3,000-acre corn and soybean farm with his father while raising 60 head of registered Angus cows.

Roger Bernard, Policy Analyst, Informa Economics

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.

Curt Covington, Senior Vice President of Agricultural Finance, FarmerMac

Curt is responsible for managing the $18.3 billion ag loan portfolio for Farmer Mac, the nation’s premier secondary market for agricultural credit that was created to increase access to and reduce the cost of capital for the benefit of American agriculture and rural communities. Curt’s extensive experience in ag lending spans nearly 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.  

Maria Cox, Illinois farmer

Maria earned an M.S. in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University and a B.S. in Agribusiness from the University of Illinois. After college, she spent five years in the grain marketing and crop insurance industries. She is a sixth- generation grain, livestock, and hay farmer who has been working with her family’s operation since 2012.  She also writes the Millennial Manager column in Farm Futures and at FarmFutures.com. 

Ken Eriksen, Senior Vice President, Informa Economics IEG

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. 

Scott Henry, Iowa farmer

Scott Henry is a Farmer and Partner at LongView Farms (www.longview.ag), 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.

Trey Hill, Maryland farmer

Hill is a Maryland farmer who consciously worked to become a champion environmentalist as he changed practices on his 10,000-acre grain farm. After working with researchers and conservationists, he set out to examine every farm practice and began to re-imagine the farm, adding no-till, cover crops and other practices. Today Hill’s Harborview Farms is a model for other operations - agronomically sound, profitable, and eco-friendly.  

David Kohl, Ag Economist and professor emeritus, Virginia Tech

Dr. Kohl is a retired professor of agricultural economics at Virginia Tech.  He has traveled over 8 million miles and has conducted more than 6,000 workshops and seminars for agricultural groups including farmers, bankers, Farm Credit, and agribusiness groups.  Kohl has published more than 1,500 articles on financial and business-related topics in journals and other publications. He has received 11 major teaching awards while teaching over 10,000 students, and 18 major Extension and Public Service awards from Virginia Tech, Cornell University, and state and national organizations.  

Bryce Knorr, Senior market analyst, Farm Futures

Knorr is the Senior Market Analyst for Farm Futures magazine and FarmFutures.com. He first joined Farm Futures in 1987 and has been registered as a futures broker or commodity trading advisor for more than 20 years.  Bryce writes daily, weekly and monthly market analysis for online and print content consumers. He also conducts Farm Futures grower surveys on production, profitability, and a variety of management topics. 

John McNutt, MBA and lead consultant, LattaHarris

McNutt specializes in family business management, transition, entity planning and management information systems for farm families. He holds degrees from Iowa State University in Agricultural Business and Economics and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Iowa.  He was the first recipient of the Brian
Davidson Fellowship from Harvard Business School; he holds a Certificate from the Family Firm Institute and is a graduate of TEPAP. John is a past President of the National Pork Producer Council.

Dave Nelson, Iowa farmer

Nelson returned to the Fort Dodge, Iowa, family farm in 2007 and helped grow the business from 900 to 5,000 acres. Focusing on relationships, data analytics, variable rate apps and ROI helped Nelson’s family grow corn and soybean yields to number one in his county. The family also owns and operates Brokaw Supply, a fertilizer equipment dealership. Nelson predicts that the future of farming lies in the ability to operate like a progressive business; the ability to operate on tight margins, being innovative, building relationships and networks, and being the lowest cost highest producer.  

Willie Vogt, Executive Director, Content and User Engagement, Farm Progress Co.

Willie Vogt has been covering agriculture for more than three decades from his early days at a weekly farm paper to his current position at Farm Progress, where he oversees an editorial business that includes 24 magazines and more than 29 websites. As a longtime ag tech enthusiast and editor of Farm Industry News, he has covered the hardware and software of agriculture from hard iron to biotech seed. Willie graduated from Iowa State University in 1980 and eventually ended up in Minnesota. He joined Farm Progress full time in 1996 as technology editor and became Editorial Director in 2004. 

Paul Wenger, California farmer

Wenger is a third-generation farmer who spent nearly ten years serving as California Farm Bureau president, leading the state’s farmers and ranchers through regulatory, policy and consumer issues. Wenger grows almonds and walnuts and expanded his operation to include processing and marketing of almonds and walnuts through his Wood Colony Nut Co., to provide an opportunity for future generations to vertically integrate into the family business. He was named Agriculturalist of the Year by the California State Fair Board in 2018. Wenger attended Modesto Junior College before transferring to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he earned a degree in animal science.