Join industry leaders and key decision-makers for three days of networking and professional development at the ARA Conference & Expo, Nov. 28 to Nov. 30, at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. You do not want to miss this essential event for retailers, distributors and suppliers in the agriculture industry. Register online today by visiting

Keynote speakers are Jim Collins with DuPont, Geopolitical Strategist Peter Zeihan and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt (invited). A panel with Amol Deshpande, CEO of Farmers Business Network; Steve Watts, Farrell Growth Group; and Dave Downey, agricultural economist at Purdue University, will discuss alternative business models and close the program.

In the breakouts, regional agribusiness association executives from Florida, California and Oregon will discuss local regulatory and legislative impacts; attorneys from Faegre Baker Daniels will examine looming legal battles; a former district attorney will offer advice on protecting you and your company from spray drift liability; and a panel of retailers will present perspectives on eConnectivity.

In addition to a lineup of engaging speakers, the conference features the premier trade show in ag retail, a golf tournament, silent and live auctions and tours of area agriculture and local historical sites.


Breakout Session Highlights

Wednesday, Nov. 29 (3:30-4:30 p.m.)

Protecting Yourself from Liability

David Leath, Petrie Dorfmeier LLP

Although dicamba has made recent headlines, over-spray, misapplication and drift are issues that applicators, consultants and ag retailers need to consider for all products with potentially negative effects on neighboring crops.

In this breakout session, David Leath, partner with Petrie Dorfmeier, in Fresno, Calif., will offer his advice on protecting yourself and your company from liability against crop loss, off-target application, spray drift, exposure and other issues associated with applications. He will focus on how consultants, applicators and retailers can protect themselves and their companies when providing consultations and pesticide recommendations, when selling and using product or when drift occurs.

Leath has specialized in agricultural litigation for more than 15 years and emphasizes in crop loss and pesticide matters. He has handled cases involving many commercial crops grown in the western U.S. and has experience in all aspects of crop claims from investigation to trial. Before entering private practice, he served as a deputy district attorney in Merced, Calif., where he was a member of the Ag Crimes Task Force.


Coming to a State Near You

Mary Hartney, Florida Fertilizer and Chemical Association

Renee Pinel, Western Plant Health Association

Katie Fast, Oregonians for Food and Shelter

Moderated by Jim Byrum, Michigan Agri-Business Association

This panel discussion features state association leaders from arguably three of the most challenging regulatory and legislative environments for agribusinesses.

This session will make ag retailers in other regions aware of what’s happening on the regulatory frontier, so they can prepare if and when those issues arise locally. Katie Fast, Renee Pinel and Mary Hartney will share perspectives on the impact of marijuana legalization, state and local ballot measures to ban aerial spraying and biotechnology, water quality, endangered species, GMO labeling and federal pesticide registrations.

The panel will be moderated by Jim Byrum, president of Michigan Agri-Business, a trade organization that represents more than 400 members who participate in virtually every segment of the agriculture industry. 


Thursday, Nov. 30 (8 – 9 a.m.)

We Won But... Legal Perspectives on Key Industry Issues

Ross Johnson and Del Ehrich, Faegre Baker Daniels

      Agriculture won several major regulatory and legislative battles in the past year—Process Safety Management, Andersons Seed v. EPA, Des Moines Water Works litigation, existing stocks provisions for canceled pesticide registrations, chlorpyrifos, Risk Management Program requirements and so forth—but the war is not over. Attorneys Ross Johnson and Del Ehrich with Faegre Baker Daniels will provide their perspectives on what may happen next on key regulatory and legislative industry issues, including dicamba, that face ag retailers, distributors and suppliers.

Johnson is a partner and the Des Moines office leader at Faegre Baker Daniels. He regularly represents local and national clients in agribusiness, product liability, toxic tort, personal injury, class action, general commercial and other matters in Iowa and numerous other states. Johnson is a member of the firm’s national food and agriculture industry team, and he heads the crop nutrient/fertilizer market segment for firm-wide support of clients in this industry.

Ehrich is a nationally recognized trial lawyer and leads the firm’s environmental practice area. He focuses on complex environmental and natural resource damage litigation. With more than 30 years of experience, Ehrich has represented clients in a variety of litigation and administrative proceedings involving major federal environmental statutes—including Superfund, the Resource Conservation Recovery Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act—and myriad state environmental statutes and regulations.


Thursday, Nov. 30 (8 – 9 a.m.)

Implementing eConnectivity in Ag Retail

Brent Kemp, AgGateway (Moderator)

This panel of ag retailers, which will be moderated by Brent Kemp, executive vice president and chief operations officer for AgGateway, will discuss how moving from paper-based tracking systems into electronic connectivity—through standardized transactions, bar coding and other systems—has dramatically improved efficiency, accuracy and customer service.

Kemp and the retail panel will highlight case studies that show how AgGateway electronic standards and resources improve accuracy in reporting and manufacturers’ payments, and they will describe how connected systems allow easily accessible information on real-time inventory and boost inventory management and order management. Retailers experienced a significant reduction in inventory shrink as well as substantial personnel efficiencies. One retailer reported reducing two weeks worth of reporting work for two people to a few clicks.

Before joining AgGateway in 2014, Kemp served as manager of process development with Southern States Cooperative where he helped implement electronic connections with numerous trading partners, including more than 100 connections for EDI and XML, and generated lowered costs and increased accuracy and efficiency. He has served on councils for ag retail, crop nutrition, crop protection, feed and seed.


Additional Activities

Arizona Biltmore Historical Tour

Wednesday, Nov. 29 (9:30 to 11 a.m.)

Complimentary for Registered Spouses

Known as “The Jewel of the Desert,” the Arizona Biltmore is a living architectural masterpiece. It showcases the seminal influence of America’s most heralded architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. Since the hotel opened in 1929, many presidents and dignitaries have vacationed amidst the lush gardens and sun-kissed palm trees of the Arizona Biltmore.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan celebrated their honeymoon at the resort, and every president from Herbert Hoover through George W. Bush has been a guest. Join us for a historical walking tour of the resort followed by a mimosa networking event.

Arizona Ag Tour

Thursday, Nov. 30 (1:30 - 5 p.m.)

Departs from Hotel Lobby

Will Rousseau, owner of Rousseau Farming, will take attendees on a tour of his Scottsdale farming operation. The diversified operation features many different vegetables, including cilantro, parsley and broccoli, as well as various irrigation systems, harvesting equipment and packing facilities. The farm is located on an Indian reservation approximately 20 minutes from the Arizona Biltmore.

Transportation will be provided. Tickets are $30. Advanced registration is recommended. 


Hotel Information

The Arizona Biltmore will host the conference and trade show. Rooms in the ARA block start at $209 per night. Book your room at

For a complete agenda and more information about the conference, go to