The Agricultural Retailers Association's theme for its 2010 ARA Conference and Expo was "Taking Charge of Change: Navigating the Future of Ag Retail." The conference and expo took place Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at the Westin Mission Hills Resort in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Attendance was up this year with close to 600 registered participants.

The featured speakers were two ag industry leaders, a former Washington insider, an emissions engineer, a futures strategist, a banking executive and a management consultant. This wide range of speakers provided attendees with a way to understand the multitude of changes they are facing in their businesses. Vern Hawkins, North American president of Syngenta Crop Protection and Steve Wilson, president and chief executive officer of CF Industries, helped provide overviews from their respective expertise. Hawkins represented the crop protection side of the industry while Wilson offered his perspective on the state of the fertilizer industry.

Other speakers included Randy Russell, agriculture policy expert with Russell & Barron LLC; Chamila Tissera, an emissions engineer with Deutz Corporation; Dan Burrus, futurist and business strategist and chief executive officer of Burrus Research; John (Curt) Covington, senior vice president of Credit Administration, Bank of the West; and Jim Pancero, management consultant.

The accompanying expo featured a record number of trade show exhibits this year: 73! Visitors had a chance to discuss face to face the newest products and technologies these companies are offering in 2011 to help retailers navigate the changing road ahead.

ARAPAC's funds were increased by $81,000 from the live and online auctions and $68,000 from the golf tournament and dinner. Eligible funds will be used for political activities associated with helping to re-elect and elect members of Congress who support ag retailers and distributors' issues.

The spouse's program featured a Palm Springs art and architecture cultural tour and lunch, which was sponsored by FMC. More than 40 participants took the tour, which included the Village Green Heritage Center, the Palm Springs Art Museum, the Walk of Stars and Moorten's Botanical Gardens.

Once again, Continuing Education Credits were offered for 9 credit hours.