Luncheon & Keynote: Ag Policy 2020: A View from the Inside, Underside and Now Outside

Ray Starling

Our keynote speaker, Ray Starling, will discuss the potential implications of the 2020 national and state elections and share stories about his political career and time in the Trump administration. Starling will offer an analysis of how the top contenders may influence the economy, the regulatory environment, trade, taxes, and more.

Ray Starling is an inspirational speaker with professional experience in farming, law, and government. He grew up on a family farm in North Carolina, which he describes as an experience that shaped his life path more than any other. He earned an undergraduate degree in agricultural education and a juris doctor degree, both from universities in North Carolina. After law school, Starling clerked for a state supreme court justice, practiced law at an international law firm, and became the general counsel to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

In 2015, he moved to Washington, D.C. to serve as the chief counsel and agricultural policy adviser to U.S. Senator Thom Tillis. He later became the senator’s chief of staff. In 2017, he joined the National Economic Council at the White House as the special assistant to the president for agricultural policy, which made him the top agricultural adviser to the president at the White House. In mid-2018, he became chief of staff to USDA’s Sonny Perdue.

Starling returned to North Carolina in the summer of 2019 to serve as general Counsel to the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce and as president of the NC Chamber Legal Institute.

He also promotes Starling Farms sausage, made from pigs raised by his brother, Willi, on the family farm in Autryville. He has spoken to hundreds of audiences across the U.S. about agriculture, leadership, and personal development.

The luncheon will be 12:15 p.m. Thursday.

Learning from Legacies–A Generational Perspective

Steve Sukup and Emily Schmitt, Supkup Manufacturing and Heather Bruce, Osmundson Manufacturing

The Learning from Legacies series is back by popular demand. This time, the focus is on how family businesses navigate not only transitioning from one generation to the next but the day-to-day challenges of family relationships in the context of the workplace. Hear from family members who represent long-time member companies and long-established farm equipment manufacturers.

This year, we will hear from executives at Sukup Manufacturing and Osmundson Manufacturing.

Representing Sukup will be President and CEO Steve Sukup and daughter Emily Schmitt, who is the company’s general counsel.

Also on stage will be Heather Bruce, who assumed ownership of Osmundson last year and represents the fifth generation of company leadership.

This session will be 11:00 a.m. Thursday.

Operational Excellence

Steve Wilson

This year’s Summit kicks off a new service for members: a five-part instructional series on continuous improvement intended to offer a deep dive into the work.

Steve Wilson will make the first of three convention appearances. In between conventions, he will host two webinars that tie together the content. His first session will focus on readiness–achieving it and sustaining it in your pursuit of operational excellence.

Wilson is a consultant, coach, and trainer who has worked with hundreds of companies, including Deere, Union Pacific, and Heinz. He’s also worked as an operations manager with Federal Express, a service manager in the automotive and IT industries, and a quality improvement manager for a healthcare provider.

This session will be on 9:00 a.m. Friday.

Breakout: Tools for Trade–101 and Advanced

Heather Andrea Ranck, U.S. Department of Commerce

Heather Ranck is director of the U.S. Commercial Service and U.S. Department of Commerce office in North Dakota. She is also rural team leader for the Department of Commerce. Ranck’s trade specialty is farm machinery. Her first session will offer an overview of how to succeed in agribusiness exporting. The second session will focus on market research and website globalization.

This breakout will take place at 9:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. on Thursday.

Breakout: Understanding Hemp Regulations

Megan Kuehl, Sentry Insurance

Megan Kuehl is an attorney in the Corporate Legal Department at Sentry Insurance. She will discuss the changing legal environment affecting the hemp industry, including changes that impact growers.

Kuehl will speak at 9:00 a.m. Thursday and 10:15 a.m. Friday.

Breakout: Navigating Multi-State Sales Taxes/Lobbying for Exemptions

Justin Mentele, KCoe Isom and Rachel Geilenfeld, Supkup Manufacturing

Justin Mentele, CPA, a principal at KCoe Isom, will discuss what manufacturers need to know about doing business in multiple states, including income taxes, sales taxes, and the Wayfair decision.

He will be joined by Rachel Geilenfeld, external relations manager and lobbyist for Sukup Manufacturing Co, who will discuss tactics and strategies that led to the successful creation of new sales tax exemptions for industry products.

This breakout will be at 9:00 a.m. Thursday and 10:15 a.m. Friday.

Breakout: Product Liability–Managing Risk

DJ Warden, Nilan Johnson Lewis

DJ Warden is an attorney with Nilan Johnson Lewis who specializes in defending product liability cases and commercial litigation. He will talk to members about risk management , specifically field management strategies and design, manufacturing, and compliance practices.

Warden will speak at 10:00 a.m. Thursday and 10:15 a.m. Friday.

Breakout: Safety Standards

John Fisher, Association consultant and Scott Cedarquist, ASABE

John Fisher, an Association consultant and safety and standards expert, and Scott Cedarquist, standards and technical director for ASABE, will discuss a series of safety standards, including lighting and marking, braking, and hitchpins.

This breakout will be at 10:00 a.m. Thursday.

Tillage Council: Smart Tillage Today: How IoT & Data Create Opportunities and Value

Michael Gomes, Topcon Agriculture

Gomes is vice president of business development IoT for Topcon Agriculture. He is a co-inventor on patents for aspects of auto steering, sensors and user interface and a founding board member of the Ag Data Coalition. Gomes will offer an overview of the digitization of agriculture and how sensors, specifically in the tillage process, can create value for manufacturers, dealers and farmers.

The Tillage Council  meets at 8:00 a.m. Friday.