Trends Changing Ag Consulting: Preview of 2020 NAICC Conference

Written by Matt Eich, president of NAICC

The 2020 NAICC Annual Meeting and AG PRO EXPO will be held January 22-25 at the Grand Hyatt, and Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center in San Antonio, TX.  This will be the second time NAICC has held the Annual Meeting in San Antonio, and it is shaping up to a grand one. Here’s an overview of the program:

Efficacy Training
The pre-program will kick off early on Monday, January 20 with the second annual Efficacy Training. The committee is expanding beyond the basics this year with key topics that are driving the current industry.  It will be an all-day training session that will begin with Weed Science topics and then continue with Entomology sessions, and then Pathology and Bio-stimulants will cap off the topics. The day will finish off with a round table discussion on all subjects from the day’s training.

Timely and Topical Discussions
On Tuesday the Research Education Outreach Committee will host the GLP Training for its tenth year. The GLP training has been a successful training event with 4 workshop options that include Basics, Advanced, Laboratory and Field Sampling. It is a great way to stay current on Good Laboratory Practices training.  
For the second year, the International Outreach Committee will host a workshop on a topic with worldwide interest. This year’s topic is CRISPR, a fast-developing technology that has far-reaching implications and that will push agriculture into the next generation of advancement. The CRISPR workshop will take place Wednesday morning January 22. 

Committee Meetings
On Wednesday afternoon the Committee Meetings will be held. These meetings, provide NAICC members the ability to be directly involved and to help each committee and the organization reach both its short-term goals for the coming year, and keep on task towards the long-term goals of the future. NAICC has 19 active committees, so there is sure to be a committee that would be great fit for to be involved in. Also, on Wednesday afternoon for the first time the AG PRO EXPO will be open. NAICC is looking forward to another year of interesting and informative exhibit hall vendors with over 80 exhibitors expected to be in attendance.  
Keynotes and Breakout Sessions

The Annual Meeting will officially kick off on Thursday, January 23. As usual there will be three tracks for meeting participants to take part in; Track I topics lean more toward crop consultants, Track II to research topics, and Track III is geared for quality assurance professionals. The Track I will kick off with a Consultant Panel, which is always a popular event to help break the ice. After the Emerging Technology session, the consultants will have an update session on Nematodes.  

The researchers will kick off Track II with sharpening their technical skills, learning about HTPSR Techniques, Bio stimulant Research Techniques, and expanding their research capabilities by learning about APHIS import & interstate movement permits, new technology and equipment.  Running concurrently to Tracks I and II, the QA’s will be improving their auditor skills with a thorough review of technical techniques, essentials for writing quality audit reports and conducting audits. NAICC is excited to announce that our FEAE Keynote Speaker this year will be Vance Crowe. He is a communications consultant that has worked for corporations and international organizations around the world. He recently left Monsanto/Bayer to return to running his own communications company. Vance helps organizations realize why the general public doesn’t agree with their perspective and offers new ways to communicate that effectively resolve disagreements and builds rapport with critics and stakeholders. His stories and lessons illuminate aspects of communications that remain hidden to most people. 

Closing Events and Networking
Thursday evening will be a fun filled evening at the Outgoing President’s Reception in the AG PRO EXPO exhibit hall which will provide time to catch up with old friends, make new ones, sample appetizers and bid on a variety of outstanding items at the FEAE Foundation’s Silent Auction that supports multiple educational scholarships.

Friday brings a new day, and a host of new topics for all three tracks.  In Track III the QA’s will conduct a Mock GLP Inspection and then spend time debriefing it.  This will be followed by the always popular GLP Gameshow. The topics in Track II will learn about BPIA Regulatory Issues followed by small business techniques and tips for employee retention.  In Track I, the consultants will be having an expansive session on all things cover crops, that will cast a wide net for topics and be of interest for many. After the Incoming President’s Luncheon, the consultants will discuss the ever-popular buzzword of Sustainability and how it fits in their consulting business. They will also have the pleasure of hearing Mr. Patrick Stephenson speak on the Association of Independent Crop Consultants, NAICC’s counterpart from Europe.  For the last session of the day and for the meeting, all three tracks will have a track specific General Roundtable session to discuss the week’s events, current hot topics and possible future topics that concern crop consultants, researchers and quality assurance professionals. 

The 2020 NAICC Annual Meeting will conclude with a Friday Night Networking Dinner complete with music and interactive games and a lot of fun. I am confident that NAICC will once again host a quality meeting for our members. I look forward to seeing you in San Antonio.