ASA Soybean Leadership College hits the right notes in Nashville

Farm Forum

An estimated 125 farmers and state soybean leaders met in Nashville, Tenn. last week for the 14th annual ASA Soybean Leadership College at the Hutton Hotel. Attendees had the chance to network with others in the soybean industry while developing their organizational leadership skills at the three day conference.

The Soybean Leadership College opened Monday afternoon with popular ag TV host of RFD-TV’s U.S. Farm Report, John Phipps. Phipps presented “What Could Possibly Go Right? Agriculture is doomed. Or Maybe Not,” addressing grain prices, international and national market demands and how growers and associations can prepare for future trends. To end the evening, leaders headed to Honky Tonk Central for dinner and live music.

ASA President Ray Gaesser welcomed the crowd on Tuesday morning and introduced speaker Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity, who spoke about overcoming growing consumer skepticism in the industry. Arnot explored why consumers mistrust today’s food system and shared insights on how we can build trust in today’s agriculture.

On Tuesday, the Soybean Leadership College also showcased breakout education sessions on leadership, communications and the latest issues impacting the soybean industry.

Steve Hughes from Hit Your Stride presented “Influence: The Art and Science of Changing Minds,” focusing on practical ideas drawing from latest psychological research to illustrate how to influence clients, understand how they make decisions and utilizing the “six P’s” of persuasion. LCDR Chip Lutz, a retired veteran of the United States Navy, presented “Fair Winds By Following the ‘C’s’ Leading Tomorrow’s Association.” His presentation focused on leadership, providing tools to break communication barriers, connect with other team members and collaboration.

At lunch, USB Vice Chairman Bob Haselwood presented before leaders broke into the second half of the leadership and communication sessions on Tuesday.

Agriculture speaker and comedian Damian Mason concluded the evening with a humorous, yet insightful discussion on agriculture trends and look at issues facing the business of food production.

After a day of learning, Soybean Leadership College attendees met up for an evening of Wii games, poker, Ping-Pong and dinner.

BASF Project Manager Nathan Borgmeyer kicked off Wednesday morning with a breakfast presentation on weed control practices.

Bestselling author Mary Byers spoke during the general session on Wednesday morning. Byers is co-author of” Race for Relevance” and “Road to Relevance.”

Her presentation featured insights from “Road to Relevance” to help move soybean organizations to greater discipline, focus and value. Framed by five key strategies illustrated by examples, she presented a guide to competitive advantage.

To close the 14th annual ASA Soybean Leadership College, Cathy Enright, executive director of Council for Biotechnology Information and head of GMO Answers, presented “A New Conversation about GMOs and How our Food is Grown.”

Enright discussed how the biotech industry stands behind the health and safety of GM crops on the market today, but acknowledges that a better job could be done on communicating what they are, how they are made, what the safety data says. Enright’s presentation is a step towards a different approach, to open up a new conversation and welcome the toughest questions about GMOs and how food is grown.

ASA Soybean Leadership College provides opportunities for future and current soybean industry grower-leaders and state staff to learn how to engage soybean producers, consumers, legislators, government officials and media, to more effectively tell the story of agriculture.