Farmer2Farmer conference will feature Steve Case, Tom Osborne, Willie Robertson | TheFencePost.com

Farmer2Farmer conference will feature Steve Case, Tom Osborne, Willie Robertson

Amy Hadachek

Steve Case,co-founder of America Online will be the keynote speaker at this year's Farmer2Farmer conference focused on American entrepreneurs.

Farmers are increasingly being considered entrepreneurs, even though that thought may not be the forethought on their minds.

Based on that concept, Farmers Business Network is hosting a three-day conference — Farmer2Farmer: American Entrepreneurs, Dec. 12-14 at the Hilton Hotel in Omaha, Neb., where celebrity entrepreneurs will come together with innovative farmers to share their creative business savvy. Featured speakers include legendary entrepreneur Steve Case, who co-founded America Online, hall of fame and former University of Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne and Willie Robertson, executive producer and star of "Duck Dynasty" and CEO of Duck Commander.

"The conference theme is American entrepreneurs because farms are typically family businesses. These past few years have been difficult years for farmers, with very low prices for commodities and very high input costs. This means farmers have to think very entrepreneurially to do well and create new opportunities," said Charles Baron, co-founder of Farmers Business Network, which is hosting the conference.

Having entrepreneurial thinking and a business mind translate to the farm is something Case sees as part of the next phase in technological progression.

"We are in the beginning of what I call 'The Third Wave,' a new era in which the Internet will transform industries that are part of our everyday lives, including food and agriculture," said Case, who is currently the chairman and CEO of Revolution LLC, an investment firm he co-founded. "Third Wave entrepreneurs will change how we grow and raise our food, how we store it and transport it safely and how we deliver it to customers. In many cases these entrepreneurs aren't just tech engineers working in Silicon Valley, New York or Boston. They are farmers and workers from all across the country who are closest to the challenges and problems trying to be solved."

Known best as the creator of America Online, Case's work as an entrepreneur is a large reason why he was asked to speak at the conference.

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"Besides creating AOL, Steve Case is also a major proponent in rural entrepreneurship and how technology will benefit rural America. How do the best entrepreneurs in other industries-think, and what can farmers learn from them? Steve will bring his perspective about building businesses and making tough decisions-to the farm," Baron said.

Osborne, who served as a representative for Nebraska from 2001-07 after his 25-year tenure at Nebraska, is scheduled to deliver his presentation at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 12.

At 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 13 Robertson will provide the opening address with Case is scheduled at 4 p.m. later that day.

Other scheduled speakers at the event include a grain marketing expert and more a dozen leading entrepreneurial farmers from across the country.

"We have members of (Farmers Business Network) who have built chains of restaurants based on wheat products from their farm, others who have been pioneers in precision technology and no-till, and still other farmers who organize their storage and equipment with other growers in incredibly profitable ways. Every farmer can learn from these innovators," Baron said.

The Farmers Business Network is a two-year old independent network of 3,000 farmers from across the country who, together, manage more than 10-million acres of farmland. The Farmers Business Network data network is an opportunity for farmers to share farm information with each other, and create farmer-driven information on seed performance, fair market prices for inputs and other critical farming knowledge.

"By being independent, (Farmers Business Network) has also been able to develop an online buying system for farm inputs that have saved up to 50-percent on their chemical costs," Baron said.

Session topics at the December conference will include farm business strategies, data science on the farm, 2017 marketing strategies, Farmers Business Network trends and the newest products and programs. ❖

To attend

For Farmers Business Network members, tickets are free. Signing up for membership will include a credit for the ticket price to the Farmer2Farmer conference.

For more information go to http://www.farmersbusinessnetwork.com.