Des Moines, IA
Iowa Events Center
23 Speakers
900 Seats
Get yours today!


Registration & Breakfast - Sponsored by Midwest Growth Partners
7 AM-8 AM

Morning Keynote Session
8 AM - 10 AM

Main Ballroom

Welcome to the 2020 Land Investment Expo

Craig Hill, President Iowa Farm Bureau

Main Ballroom

Ken Isley, Administrator USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

Ken Isley, Administrator USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

Main Ballroom

The Edge of Chaos: Where and how society changes.

Vance Crowe

The rate of change in the world will never be slower than it is right now.  Change is happening to all of the equipment on the farm, but it is also happening more broadly to our culture.  How does one prepare for change so that they better see what is coming? Is it possible to become better at pushing forward the change that you personally want to see in the world?

In this keynote, communications consultant Vance Crowe discusses how ideas change in a culture so that you can better identify when a fad is becoming a deeper layer of culture.  Vance will also demonstrate how to engage with those you disagree with so that you can have better outcomes, and often reach agreements. This 45-minute keynote, will teach skill and introduce the audience to ideas and people that will help them face the coming change.

Main Ballroom

Mr. Weatherman, Please Tell Me What The Heck Is Going On!

Dr. Simon Atkins

We all know that SOMETHING is going on with the weather.  It never used to be this bad.  It used to be that extremes would happen every now & again, and if we were lucky, the season would give us pretty darn good weather.  But now we have bizarre weather events every month, and if we're pissing in the wind the wrong way, Mother Nature is messing with us every week.  AND, on top of that, the global situation has become a maze of elaborate paths and confusing themes, and we can't even count on most of the news to tell us the truth.  Plus, omg, people are moodier than ever, to put it mildly!  Let's start with this:  ALL of these things are connected, yeah, including your even crazier-than-before mother-in-law.  You darn well can bet something BIG is happening on the planet, and it ain't conspiracy theory either.  "So, tell me, Mr. Weatherman, if you can educate me, entertain me, and help me connect the pieces, I'll be willing to listen!"  Simon will go further:  he'll lay down the 2020 forecast for planting, growing and harvesting, but with a special code, he'll email you the details for your area too.  So, come on down, you don't want to miss this one:  Simon backs-up his complex research and advanced predictions with 30 years of global analysis, and he's ready with his silk striped suit and orange tie to break it down into Iowa language for ya.

Morning Break - Sponsored by FarmerMac
10 AM - 10:30 AM

Morning Breakout Sessions
10:30 AM - 11:15 AM

Room 307

Agriculture – Looking Forward

Jim Knuth, Farm Credit Services of America

Farm Credit Services of America is the largest agricultural lender in Iowa and the upper Midwest.  The organization serves over 57,000 producers in the states of Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming and Kansas.  Jim Knuth, Senior Vice President and leader of their Iowa operations will be giving insights into current land value trends, the interest rate environment and 2020 expectations, their portfolio insights concerning grain production agriculture, lessons learned from the current agricultural cycle and a look forward at 2020 expectations and issues likely to impact grain production agriculture. 

Room 308

Water Supply Planning for Agricultural Investments in a Changing Climate

Cameron Wobus, PhD-Senior Scientist & Bill Szafranski, MS, CFM-Water Resources Scientist

In this session we will focus on how a changing climate could affect water supply planning for agriculture, and we will summarize some of the tools that Lynker has used to help agricultural investors evaluate the reliability of future water supplies for mid- to long-range land investments.

In the first half of the session, we will describe our current scientific understanding of how land surface temperatures and precipitation patterns are projected to change in the coming decades, paying particular attention to the causes of these changes and the uncertainties in future projections. We will then discuss what these changes are likely to mean for agricultural water demand in different parts of the United States, and the key takeaways that are relevant to agricultural investments.

In the second part of our session, we will describe the tools that Lynker has developed to help its agricultural investment clients with due diligence in evaluating the reliability of future yields for potential land investments. These tools range from simple projections of future water demand for plants under rain-fed agriculture scenarios, to more complex projections that use our water optimization software to explicitly consider issues including projected changes in streamflow, seniority of water rights, and reservoir operations.

Room 309

Options for Deferring/Eliminating Income and Estate Taxes in 2020

Paul Neiffer, Principal Agribusiness CLA (CliftonLarsonAllen LLP)

Successful land investors will face large income or estate tax bills during their investing career.  There are many options available to the investor to either defer or eliminate these taxes.  This session will review those options, which may include the following:

  • Section 1031 Exchanges – They remain available for farmland; however, certain farmland assets such as tiling or irrigation improvements require extra care.  We review what is needed to defer these gains.
  • Opportunity Zone Investments – The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 provided a new vehicle to help reduce and eliminate capital gains taxes from selling farmland.  By investing in an opportunity zone fund, you can both defer and permanently eliminate capital gains taxes.
  • Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRT) – Contributing farmland to a CRT creates a partial charitable deduction and then defers the income tax over many years (can be for your lifetime).
  • Using an Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust – You can sell your land to a trust that is still treated as being “owned” by you.  This means the gain is usually tax-free, and all of the appreciation will be outside of your estate.
  • Using Annual Gifts – Many investors fail to take advantage of gifting $15,000 of value each year to their kids and grandkids.  This is a use it or lose it scenario.
  • Make Large Gifts Now – Tax Reform doubled the lifetime estate tax exemption to $11.58 million (2020 numbers).  A husband and wife can give about an extra $15-20 million of land now and completely eliminate the estate tax on that value.

Room 310

DST Farms: Introducing Farmland to the Delaware Statutory Trust Marketplace

Dave Muth, Alternative Equity Advisors

Room 317

Successful Economic Development for the Future

Derick Anderson, McClure

As the world economy continues to evolve, so, too, must the accompanying strategies we use to drive community prosperity. This presentation will explore the many facets of economic development in play today and how those elements will need to evolve in the future to ensure our communities thrive for generations to come. Topics addressed include infrastructure, housing, natural resources, and placemaking, among others.

Room 318

Property Value and Wind and Solar Leases

Brad Haight, Leasegen

Brad is a lawyer by training.

He started in the wind business in 2001 and since has worked with manufacturers, equipment designers, lenders, project developers, projects owners, and numerous landowners on wind and solar projects across the country.

In his early career, Brad primarily worked for owners in lease transactions. He still works for landowners and estimates he has worked with over 500 landowners in different projects across the country.

In 2009, Brad was asked to join a venture-backed wind development firm, where he helped conceive, build, develop, finance and sell a number of wind projects. 

In 2014, Brad started LeaseGen, LLC, which helps owners, buyers, and banks understand and/or structure wind and solar lease revenue streams.

In 2015, Brad started developing wind and solar projects on his own, including part of the 300-megawatt Bronco Plains project now in construction and one of the largest solar development projects in the world.

In 2019, Brad was asked to join AgOpp, LLC, which buys “strips” of wind and solar lease revenue streams. And also in 2019, Brad co-founded Farm First Energy, LLC, which is developing early-stage wind and solar projects for sale to a select group of established project owner-operators.

While Brad has been involved in almost all aspects of wind and solar development, his primary focus is on real estate issues, and in this regard, he has a personal interest in the value of these revenue streams.

Room 319

Enhancing Farmland Assets: Measuring and Assuring ESG, Sustainability, and Quality Management

Matt Armstrong, KCoe Isom

Lunch Keynote Session - Sponsored by Iowa Farm Bureau
11:30 AM - 1:30 PM

Main Ballroom

National FFA

Ridge Hughbanks, National FFA

Main Ballroom

Sustainability Working Group

Mr. Oliver Williams, Dr. David Muth, Mr. Brian McKibban, and Mr. Brian Kernohan

Main Ballroom

Plant-Based Evolution

Danny O'Malley, Before the Butcher

It's a fact, that for a variety of reasons, a growing number of consumers are beginning to limit their animal protein consumption.  These changes impact meat production and the supply chain that supports it. This social and economic change in the industry has sparked interest in alternative protein sources like plant-based. With this new demand, there is tremendous opportunity for leaders and innovators in the agricultural and land industries to capitalize on this growing trend. 

Join Danny O’Malley for a journey through the evolution of plant-based meats and what the future holds for the supply chain, as well as the market’s broadening consumer base.

Main Ballroom

The Art of Leadership: Lessons from the American Presidency

Jon Meacham, Presidential Historian & Author

Afternoon Break - Sponsored by Iowa Bankers Association
1:30 PM - 2 PM

Afternoon Breakout Sessions
2 PM - 2:45 PM

Room 307

Home Grown – A Master Plan for Middlebrook Farm

Jim MacRae, Design Workshop

Iowa has some of the most productive agricultural soil in the United States. The state’s future as a top agricultural producer could be impacted if new community development in the Des Moines Metropolitan region isn’t thoughtfully planned.  To accommodate the anticipated population growth of nearly 1 million people by 2050, new roads, homes, shops, and businesses must be built, which will pave over some of Iowa’s valuable farmland.

The Middlebrook Farm developer, Steve Bruere wants to maintain Iowa’s proud history of farming while also being able to develop new homes, shops, and businesses.  On 540 acres of rolling farmland in Cumming, a suburb of Des Moines, Central Iowa’s first Agrihood is now taking shape.

To help realize this new community of 1000 homes and a mixed-use village, Design Workshop has conceptualized a master plan for Middlebrook Farm.  Working closely with Farmer D and Farmer Dan, two consultants who are designing and building the farm components of the development,  the development plan integrates multiple crop and flower plots, orchards, old buildings and community gardens that will provide the open spaces and park system for this new mixed-use community.

The first phase of development includes a town farm, community garden, some single-family homes and a 1900-era schoolhouse that is being refurbished as a craft brewery that will have a connection to the adjacent Great Western Trail enabling access to miles of regional bike paths in the area. 


Jim MacRae

Jim MacRae  RLA, LEED®AP

Design Workshop Inc.

Jim is a Partner at Design Workshop and he’s passionate about designing places that honor nature, people, and culture. His career has taken him across the globe, from North America, Asia, and the Middle East, and these professional experiences have sharpened his technical capacity and his appreciation for working in diverse natural and urban environments.  He has broad expertise but is best known for his planning and design of thoughtful urban environments, including transit-oriented and mixed-use districts, commercial corridors and streetscapes, urban parks and plazas, workspaces as well as sustainable new communities.


Jim has led the master planning for Middlebrook Farm and is currently working with a multi-disciplinary team on the creation of design guidelines that will be used to guide the building of the new Agrihood.


Jake Sippy

Jake Sippy  PLA, CDT

Design Workshop Inc.

Jake, an Associate and landscape architect, works with both public and private clients to balance complex and often contradictory aspects of project success. Capable of working in a visioning and technical capacity, Jake has designed and planned parks, plazas, resorts, commercial corridors, urban streetscapes and various public spaces. His recent work demonstrates his abilities to manage complex projects, multi-disciplinary teams and myriad stakeholder interests. These efforts range from ongoing master planning for the overall community to taking individual neighborhoods and parks through site design, entitlements and construction. Jake’s experience has been honed by leading multi-disciplinary projects both in the U.S. and abroad.

Jake is designing and managing the master planning for Middlebrook Farm and is currently leading the creation of design guidelines and a parks/ open space master plan for the new Agrihood.  

Room 308

Ag-Analytics®: Land Management Solutions using Precision Ag Data

Joshua Woodard, Ag Analytics

Join CEO and Founder, Joshua Woodard, to learn how Ag-Analytics® is utilizing precision agricultural data to enable intuitive and advanced land management solutions for management companies, landowners/renters, appraisers, insurance agents, and more.

Room 309

Building Wealth Through Section 1031 Exchanges of Agricultural Assets

David Brown, President, IPE 1031 Exchange / Becky Petersen, Vice President, IPE 1031 Exchange

The Section 1031 like-kind exchange provision of the Internal Revenue Code is perhaps the single most powerful tool available to land and agricultural asset owners to retain real and lasting wealth that is built over time.  With combined federal and state tax rates routinely being as high as 30 percent, or more, land and ag property sales not exchanged result in significant reductions to potential investment returns.  Section 1031 allows investment property owners to retain tax dollars that would ordinarily be paid to the government, translating into retention of equity, and correspondingly, substantially higher rates of return.

IPE 1031 is a highly respected, industry leading qualified intermediary uniquely specialized in handling land and ag exchanges across the United States.  Speakers Dave Brown and Becky Petersen are nationally recognized experts in the Section 1031 field.   Dave and Becky will speak about strategies to maximize returns in land and ag exchange transactions through the utilization of Section 1031 like-kind exchanges.

Room 310

Protect Your Farm and Save Money

Bill Hanigan, Tom Houser, Margaret Van Houten, Breanna Young, and Jana Weiler

Explore options on how your estate plan can help protect your farm and save money through a discussion of an Iowa farming family case study with land in multiple states. In a discussion moderated by agribusiness attorney Bill Hanigan, Davis Brown Wills, Trusts & Probate attorneys Tom Houser, Margaret Van Houten, Breanna Young, and Jana Weiler will review probate avoidance, gifting options, the formation of a business entity, and recent litigation that impacts estate plans.

Room 317

Agricultural Hemp: the Next Frontier

Michael Bowman

Hemp was removed from the Controlled Substances Act and reclassified as an agricultural crop under the 2018 Farm Bill.  Hemps return, after an 80-year hiatus, offers American agriculture an opportunity to diversify operations and develop new products for a global marketplace.  This presentation will provide participants with the context of the history of Prohibition, it’s quiet return in the 2104 Farm Bill under research section 7606, the explosive growth of planted acres over the past five years and the challenges that remain to mainstream hemp as an agriculture commodity.  This presentation will be made by Michael Bowman, Colorado hemp farmer, author of the 2014 Farm Bill language and co-founder of First Crop, Inc., a Santa Fe, New Mexico-based public benefit corporation partnering with the region’s hemp farmers "from seed-to-shelf".  Bowman also serves as a founding member of the recently-announced US Hemp Growers Association. 

Room 318

The US Water Market – Price, Performance, and Managing Risk

Clay Landry, WestWater

This session will provide an overview of the US water market including a discussion on the overall market size and activity, price trends, market outlook and the impact these changes may have on the agricultural sector. The session will also introduce the Nasdaq Veles Southern California Water Price Index (NQH2O), which represents a transparent, real-time benchmark for the price of water in California.

Room 319

Mercoterra: Understanding the Effect of Organic Certification on U.S. Farmland Values

Erin Leonard, Mercaris

At last year’s Land Investment Expo Mercaris launched Mercoterra—the study to compare the value of certified organic row crop farmland with conventional farmland. This presentation will cover some of the initial findings of the study, providing further insight and transparency into the organic industry and will explore some of the challenges and opportunities when it comes to investing in organic farmland vs. conventional farmland.

Room 320

Blockchain enabled digital farmland marketplace for retail investors

David Muth, Alternative Equity Advisors

Afternoon Break - Sponsored by Iowa Soybean Association
2:45 PM - 3 PM

Afternoon Keynote Session
3 PM - 5 PM

Main Ballroom


Dr. Thomas Lumpkin

Iowa’s own Henry Wallace and Norman Borlaug, Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, USAID, World Bank, CGIAR and many other people and organizations financed and pushed a vision to propel food production beyond the grasp of a dire future predicted by Thomas Malthus.  Today, funding from Gates, Buffet and many others continue this tradition in the public sector, but now industries and their university collaborators are often the leaders in innovation.  The struggle for food security thus far seems successful in meeting the increasing demand for food arising from population growth and income driven dietary enrichment, so many are being lulled into complacency over food security.  Still, a myriad of ominous signs are arising that will overwhelm current and even visionary prospects for global food production if measures for their amelioration are not quickly undertaken.

Chief among the concerns are the infinite manifestations of Climate Change, especially precipitation and temperature variability, and its interaction with food demand and degradation or depletion of key agricultural resources such as groundwater, soil fertility, atmospheric gas composition and flooding, especially of mega-delta rice baskets.   These challenges will meanwhile be interacting with other challenges like the ever more frequent plagues and epidemics such as the current African Swine Fever and Fall Army Worm plagues in Asia and the globally aging farmer population.  On the positive side, new bio-technologies such as CRISPR and robotics, including drones are offering exciting prospects for higher yielding precision agriculture.  Many of these vectors portend great changes that require far greater attention and investment as well as unity of focus than are currently apparent.

Main Ballroom

Agriculture 3.0 - Brave New World

Nikolas Badminton, World-renowned Futurist, Author, and Researcher

New ways of sustainable and innovative agricultural practices have never been needed more than they are today. By 2050, the United Nations has stated that we will need to grow 60% more than today. To do that we need to look to new innovative practices, exponential technologies, and diverse ways of thinking about food production to help us achieve that. 

Nikolas will take us from ‘what is’ to ‘what if…’ and help us imagine the potential with the future of agriculture using ‘signals of change’ he sees is using Big Data, the Internet of Agricultural Things, transportation, agritech, genetics, cellular protein and other advancements.

Main Ballroom

An afternoon with Anthony Scaramucci

Anthony Scaramucci, Former White House Communications Director & Founder of Skybridge Capital

Cocktail Reception - Sponsored by Tiverton
5 PM - 6 PM

Thank you to our 2021 sponsors!

Peoples Company

Peoples Company has become one of the nation’s leading providers of land brokerage, land management, land appraisal, and land investment services. The platform offers a complete suite of farm real estate services to farmers, corporate clients, family offices, pension funds, and high net worth individuals. Peoples Company is active in over 25 states covering all the key agricultural regions in the U.S. and specializes in complex agricultural transactions involving a wide range of production systems.

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