The 2007 Annual meeting in Atlanta is now Gone with the Wind.
By Fred Jaynes

After more than 15 months of planning and coordination, we pulled it off! I am talking about the recent AG PRO EXPO and the joint annual meetings of the three allied organizations: American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA), National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants (NAICC) and the American Society of Agricultural Consultants (ASAC).

The headquarters for the meeting, the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, was very hospitable and the accommodations were excellent. Center stage was the first ever AG PRO EXPO, the joint trade show planned by ASFMRA, NAICC and ASAC, which culminated in 98 exhibitors displaying their services and products to the attendees. At most times, the trade show was buzzing with activity and numerous drawings for door prizes, including an ATV, and made one lucky winner extremely happy.

A total of 860 members from the three allied organizations attended despite bad weather in the central and eastern United States. This large number of attendees gave the critical mass necessary to attract the large number of exhibitors and provide sponsorships for some outstanding speakers such as Orion Samuelson, Barry Flinchbaugh, and Dr. Lowell Catlett. This combination of quality speakers would be impossible to hear at one location except at a quality meeting as this one.

During the two-day event all three allied organizations had concurrent education sessions, which presented outstanding opportunities for members and guests to catch up on the latest in bio fuel challenges, anticipated farm program issues, agricultural investment opportunities to name just a few. On the last evening the three allied organizations ended this very successful meeting with a live band and dancing.

The planning committees are now in the beginning process of evaluating this most recent meeting in preparation for another Allied AG PRO EXPO and annual meeting in Seattle, Washington, February 20-22, 2008.

Many thanks to:
Bob Glodt, NAICC President;
Allison Jones, NAICC Executive Vice President and meeting planner;
Sam Bartee, ASAC President;
Carroll Merry ASAC Executive Vice President;
Suzie Roget, ASFMRA meeting planner;
Brian Stockman, ASFMRA Executive Vice President as well as all of the ASFMRA staff.

In addition to the joint ventures, ASFMRA conducted their annual membership/board meeting, honored numerous award recipients and newly designated members, and 2006 ASFMRA President, Paul Bierschwale, ARA, passed the gavel to the 2007 ASFMRA President, Ray Brownfield, AFM, ARA. A job well done and now on to a bigger and better meeting in 2008.

For those who were unable to attend, you really missed a great meeting. The weather in HOTlanta was cold, but compared to the snowstorms plaguing much of the country was probably a blessing in disguise for those who were able to arrive ahead of the storms. Several members and speakers were stranded at airports and missed the meeting.

Denver staff did a great job again. Susie Roget spent much time in planning and coordination and it showed in the quality of the meeting. The first year with Brian Stockman as EVP has been a success. The addition of Lee Berta has resulted in more direct marketing of courses and services, more timely information being sent to members, and has allowed other staff members to concentrate on their primary job functions making the entire Denver office more efficient. If you have a chapter education offering, Denver can help with getting the word out to others in your area.

The inaugural presentation of “Appraisal Professional of the Year” was awarded to longtime member Henry Long of Birmingham, Alabama for his contributions to the appraisal profession. George Baird of Collierville, TN was named “Farm Manager of the Year”. George is a member of the Tennessee Chapter and is also very active with the Arkansas Chapter.Congratulations to both of these award winners.

Also congratulations to Chad Hertz of Waterloo, Iowa, the winner of the new “Early Career Award” Positive comments were heard in regard to the educational opportunities, as well as the networking aspects of the joint meeting with the National Association of Independent Crop Consultants.

Your executive council was in session almost daily, and conducted significant business while there. One item that will be of interest to most of you, is that we have asked the Bylaws Committee to re-write the current by-laws to eliminate the many changes required when making a small change. It’s like using duct tape to make a repair, then over time, continuing to add more tape to hold everything together. The current bylaws have become cumbersome due to the numerous changes made since their adoption. Our vision is for new bylaws that will direct how we do business, with separate policies and procedures manuals to direct the day to day operations.

Please encourage your members to attend the Leadership Institute this year. Last years was the largest ever, with approximately 140 members attending. This year will be limited to approximately 30 attendees, so be sure to register early. With discussion of the new farm bill, and other topics, it will probably fill up quickly.

As expected, our financial position appears to be much improved this year. Even with increased attendance at our courses and seminars however, the finances appear to be stable at best. It is possible that additional dues increases from the membership may be required at some point in the future. The new requirements for appraisers have resulted in increased expenses for not only the re-writing and development of our courses, but also gaining approval from each state. One staff persons job is almost entirely devoted to dealing with these approval issues.

Please pass along to your members again that persons wishing to sit for the ARA or RPRA exams under the current guidelines have until December 31, 2007 to complete their demo’s and make application for testing in 2008. After January 1, 2008, the bar will be raised considerably, with new courses and additional hours required for accrediting.

Updates and rewrites of our core courses is nearly complete. The A110 course is almost ready for instruction (along with A200 and A300). One point that was stressed to us is that A110 is not simply a rewritten A-10. This is an enhanced course, and persons without appraisal background will be required to take A101 and A102 prior to sitting for this class. The A110 does not contain the basic principles and procedures instruction, and is considerably advanced beyond A-10 with new topics such as yield capitalization added.

The New Yellow Book seminar being jointly developed with Kim Johnson, ARA the lead developer is almost complete, and is being reviewed by AI and ARA.

The joint Conservation Easement Course (the Appraisal Institute has the lead) is also progressing, but more slowly with anticipated completion date of approximately July. The Conservation Easement Course will not be available for Chapter offerings. This will be for National offering only, due to the development cost and the short shelf life to recover the development costs. Also, rewrites and updating of Management courses and seminars are being undertaken to keep our offerings on the cutting edge.

The Delta States Regional Summer meeting will be held in Tunica, MS on June 21 and 22. The scheduled education session is the eight hour “Appraising Agricultural Land in Transition”. Progress toward unification with AI and ASA continues, and the unification team was directed to move forward with an eye toward development of an agreement within a two year window, and with sooner than later being preferred.

You may consider approaching AI and ASA chapters in your area to provide joint education offerings/meetings to further working relations between our organizations. The first time may be like going on a blind date, but when you get to the dance you’ll be glad you asked them out. Each organization has great members who bring a wealth of knowledge. You’ll be better for meeting them.

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