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2024 Keynote and Educational Speakers

  • Allen Bonthuis | Educational Speaker

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    Tuesday, August 13th

    2:15 – 3:30 pm  Speaker Tent | Understanding How Solar Can Work on Your Farm

    Allen Bonthuis, Harvest Solar


    Michigan's Distributed Generation System allows for the generation, use and sale of electricity from an on-farm solar installation.  Using 1 farmer's project as an example we will review the details of the decision to go solar.  We will discuss how solar works and how Harvest Solar designs a system.  Financial and production estimates are critical to the decision process so we will talk about how they are generated and how accurate they are. Scattered through the presentation will be how our state's current regulations affect our decisions.  Please bring your questions and we will answer as many as we can.


    Allen Bonthuis is a Michigan native and farmer in Muskegon and Ottawa County. For the past 20 years he has been a sales consultant in the agricultural field. He believes that helping his customers make or save money is his primary objective and key to his success. Since joining Harvest Solar as a Technical Solar Consultant he has continued to specialize in rural businesses with a particular interest in programs to help business owners install solar and save money on their inputs.


  • Joe Sinkula | Educational Speaker

    Pennington Dennis 205HR

    Hutson Inc

    Tuesday, August 13th 

    10:00 – 10:45 am Speaker Tent | Effortless Precision: Making Variable-Rate Fertilizer Work for You

    Joe Sinkula, VRAFY 

    Sponsored by: AcresTV Black Text 200x150


    While technology has promised better nutrient management for farmers, it's often been too complex and hasn't delivered on those promises. However, with user-friendly tools like smartphones and online software, implementing variable-rate fertilizer (applying fertilizer at different rates depending on field needs) is becoming easier than ever. This presentation will explore how to leverage these new tools to decide if variable-rate fertilizer is right for your operation and how to integrate it into your nutrient management plan.


    Joe Sinkula brings nearly 15 Years of experience in Precision Agriculture. Joe currently works for VRAFY.  He started working at a John Deere dealership as a precision agriculture consultant and finished as their Integrated Solutions Manager. There, he witnessed first-hand the rapid growth of precision ag and the importance of the equipment and the data working together. He most recently worked on agronomy for a dairy and crop farm in northeast Wisconsin, focused on soil sampling, building variable rate prescriptions, making the equipment work with those prescriptions, and operating the equipment itself.  Joe resides in the Green Bay, WI, area with his wife, Stacey, and their children, Isaac and Morgan.


  • John Leif | Educational Speaker

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    GantecInc. 60

    Wednesday August 14th

    9:00 - 9:45am | Speaker Tent |  Corn Silage Production is Not Just About High Yield

    John Leif, Field Agronomist, AgroLiquid


    Corn silage production is not just about high yield.  It is about producing high quality forage that provides the best nutrition possible for the animals in your herd.  This presentation will discuss how using proper crop nutrition can improve both corn silage yield as well as forage quality, and how that can impact the milk production efficiency in dairy cattle. 


    John Leif is a Regional Sales Agronomist for AgroLiquid Fertilizer Company. He works with sales representatives, retail partners, and growers to provide technical assistance on AgroLiquid fertilizer products. John is a Nebraska native, having grown up on a crop and livestock farm.  He received a bachelors and master’s degree from the University of Nebraska in agronomy and field crop weed control. 

    The first portion of John’s career was with American Cyanamid and BASF in their crop protection product development group where he worked as a research agronomist.  John conducted product development research on new herbicides, insecticides and fungicides, and did some sales/tech support for those products. Some of the projects he worked on for those companies included the development of Raptor herbicide for soybeans and dry beans; Plateau herbicide for use in prairie plantings and other conservation uses; and the development of Headline and Cabrio fungicides for use in field and vegetable crops.

    In 2003 John joined the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in their Plant Materials Program.  John conducted research and demonstration plots on how to use plants to address natural resources conservation issues. He was the research agronomist for the Rose Lake Plant Materials Center in East Lansing for one year and was the manager of the Center for 10 years. During that time the Plant Materials Center provided training and technical tools in the areas of vegetation for erosion control and snow management; tree and shrub establishment; native pollinator habitat improvement; and soil health.


    (800)678-9029 | 3055 W. M-21 ST. Johns, MI 48879 | AgroLiquid.com

  • Kelly Garrett | Keynote Speaker Day 1

    Andy Stroop     ExtremeAg capture

    KEYNOTE | Tuesday August 13th | Time 11am

    Speaker Tent | Regenerative Agriculture Practices - Past, Present & Future

    Kelly Garrett, Co-founder of XtremeAg.com


    Discussing the transition from synthetic methods to more nature-aligned approaches in agriculture, particularly concerning the balance of nutrients, is a significant topic.


    Kelly Garrett, from Arion, Iowa, is a progressive farmer renowned for his no-tillage operation spanning 
7,000 acres in western Iowa. His farm specializes in growing corn, soybeans, and winter wheat, utilizing innovative techniques to prioritize soil conservation and yield stability.  Garrett's dedication to excellence has earned him numerous accolades, including top yield honors in no-till irrigated farming from the National Corn Growers Association, he placed nationally in this contest in 2019, 2021, and 2023. His commitment to sustainable practices and outstanding agricultural stewardship was recognized in 2024, Garrett was a finalist for the 2024 Top Producer of the Year and in 2022 he was named Farmer of the Year by Field to Market, an organization focused on advancing sustainable agriculture.  Driven by a passion for sharing knowledge and fostering innovation within the farming community, Garrett co-founded XtremeAg. This platform serves as a hub for progressive farmers across the nation, facilitating the exchange of ideas and strategies to enhance agricultural practices.  Garrett's commitment to regenerative agriculture is evident in the launch of XtremeAg's new Soil Health Initiative program. Through this initiative, Garrett aims to further promote soil health practices and advance the adoption of regenerative agricultural techniques among farmers nationwide.

    (800)678-9029 | 3055 W. M-21 ST. Johns, MI 48879 | AgroLiquid.com

  • Martin Chilvers | Educational Speaker

    Photo Chilvers 
    Tuesday, August 13th

    1:15– 2:00pm  Speaker Tent | Optimizing Disease Management

    Martin Chilvers, Ph. D. Michigan State University, Professor of Plant Pathology and Extension Specialist

    Sponsored By:Bullydog logo


    Dr. Chilvers will discuss current disease issues of the season and management solutions. Bring your questions to stump the chump.


    Marty Chilvers earned his Bachelors of Agricultural Science degree with honors and Ph.D. from the University of Tasmania, Australia, with subsequent post-doctoral training at Washington State University. Dr. Chilvers’ began his position with Michigan State University in 2008 where he leads a field crop pathology program, researching plant diseases and management solutions.

  • Mike Fraleigh | Educational Speaker

    Mike Fraleigh 
    Fraleigh Logo

    Wednesday August 14th

    1:00 - 1:45 pm Speaker Tent | Succession and Estate Planning Tax Traps and Strategies to Minimize Tax Liability

    Mike Fraleigh, Sponsored By Fraleigh Law, PLLC 


    Discussion of the tax consequences of implementing Succession Plan and Estate Plan transfers and impact of the loss of the current $13,610,000 tax exemption in 2025. Strategies to minimize tax liability for implementing your Succession and Estate Plans. Issues addressed include:

    • The tax consequences of the transfer of business control, land, and equipment.
    • Your tax liability for the transfer of debt to your Successor.
    • The loss of the current $13,610,000 lifetime estate tax exemption for the transfer of assets to the next generation.
    • What you need to do now to minimize tax liability


    Michael Fraleigh specializes in Farm Business and Succession Planning, Estate & Trust Planning, and Asset Protection.  Michael grew up on a fourth-generation family farm and has a unique understanding of the financial and legal issues farmers and their families face.

    He draws on more than 36 years’ experience to provide his clients with solutions that ensure their business and succession goals are achieved while protecting their farms and their families.  In addition, Michael has a Master of Law in Taxation which enables him to provide clients with tax efficient solutions to the financial concerns that are inherent in business, succession, and estate planning. 

    Michael is actively engaged with and a frequent speaker in the agricultural community through events like Agro Expo, Crop Summit, Livestock Expo, Michigan Family Farms Conference and many others.  He is also a member of several professional organizations including American Agricultural Law Association; Estate Planning & Administration for Business Owners, Farmers & Ranchers; Michigan Bar Association Agricultural Law Section; Business Law; and Elder Law & Disability Rights.


  • Mike Pearson | Keynote Speaker Day 2

    Andy Stroop    Farm Progress Logo 

    KEYNOTE | Wednesday August 14th | Time 11am

    Speaker Tent | Megatrends in Agriculture

    Mike Pearson, Broadcast Director for Farm Progress


    Mike Pearson takes an in-depth look at the way agriculture will be changing in the next 20 years. The past century has been one of non-stop progress in efficiency, technology, yield, and Mike pulls together his wide-ranging reports on the industry to analyze the four biggest trends driving agriculture forward.

    • Analytics: Big Data has been the watchword in production for the past several years, and the future will see new tools that allow producers to analyze the piles of data they have been collecting.
    • Robotics: Many consumers are already familiar with robots taking care of some household chores like vacuuming. It will not be much longer before we see true robotics in the field, reducing the burden of time-consuming tasks.
    • Biotechnology: The field of biotech saw incredible advances over the past decade as science and profits combined to allow geneticists and plant breeders space to try amazing things. In the next two decades, those advances become a springboard for some truly revolutionary changes to the industry. This will encompass not just plant-based biotech, but biological soil amendments and treatments as well.
    • Structure: And finally, the structure of the industry will continue to change. As record-level profits become just a memory, producers will find new ways to maximize their ROI. 


    Mike Pearson was born and raised in South Central Iowa, where he grew to love agriculture on his family’s hog and cattle farm. After graduating from Simpson College, Mike moved to Grinnell, Iowa where he had the chance to build his own cow herd in addition to working as an agricultural lender. Over the next 10 years, Mike left the world of finance and entered the world of media. He’s previously hosted “Market to Market” on Public Television, the Ag News Daily podcast, and currently, viewers can find him behind the anchor desk as the host of “This Week in Agribusiness” on RFD-TV.

    (800)678-9029 | 3055 W. M-21 ST. Johns, MI 48879 | AgroLiquid.com

  • Mike Zahrt | Educational Speaker

    Ryan & Melissa Shaw
    Foster Swift Attorneys logo

    Wednesday, August 14th

    10:00 – 10:45 am Speaker Tent | Hot Legal Topics facing Ag Producers

    Mike Zahrt, Attorney and leader of the Foster Swift Agri-Business sub-practice group


    Ag producers have many legal considerations. This fast-paced conversation will cover some of the issues that may be impact your operations including but not limited to:

    1. Corporate Transparency Act
    2. Inflation Reduction Act – including energy incentives.
    3. The Secure Act 2.0
    4. Negotiating and Managing Your Contracts – latest trends
    5. FDA approved drones
    6. Looming tax considerations


    Michael Zahrt is a business, succession and estate planning lawyer with Foster Swift Collins & Smith, PC. Mike has significant experience in farm entity formations, business planning, succession planning and estate planning.


  • Sunny Kaercher | Educational Speaker

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    Tuesday, August 13th

    9:00 – 9:45 am  Speaker Tent | Bringing Soil Back to Life: Tools For Optimizing The Biology In Your Field

    Sunny Kaercher, Business Development Manager at Biome Makers 


    This session will dig into the core principles of soil health, and why it is important for the longevity of your farm. We will review the roles and benefits of biology as "the livestock under your feet," exposing the microscopic powerhouse that is ready to team with you and your crops for optimum performance. And finally, we will discuss tools for placing biological products. Not only is there variability from one farm to the next, but also from one product to the next. Come to this session to understand how to benchmark the biology on your farm and make management decisions with that information

    (800)678-9029 | 3055 W. M-21 ST. Johns, MI 48879 | AgroLiquid.com

  • The Farm Babe, Michelle Miller | Social Media Influencer

    Andy Stroop
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    Michelle Miller, The Farm Babe


    Michelle Miller, better known as the Farm Babe, is an internationally recognized speaker, published writer & columnist, podcaster, and an online influencer as a full-time advocate for agriculture.  She started her social media outreach over nine years ago to better bridge the gap between farmers and consumers, making a name for herself as a dedicated “mythbuster” in food and farming.  Farm Babe has hundreds of thousands of followers and an average social media reach of 5+ million monthly. She’s been featured in Forbes & has caught the attention of the Today Show, Inside Edition, CNN, People magazine, and more… a guest on Dr Drew, has influenced corporations as powerful as Burger King, and has proudly spoken alongside some of the biggest names in food and farming today. Farm Babe 

Hours of Operation

August 13, 2024: 8:30am-4pm
August 14, 2024: 8:30am-3pm