2017 Keynote Speaker
Allen Williams, PhD., President GFI, LLC.
Allen Williams is a 6th generation family farmer and founding partner of Grass Fed Beef, LLC, Grass Fed Insights, LLC, Standard Soil, and a partner in Joyce Farms, Inc. He has consulted with more than 4300 farmers and ranchers in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and South America on operations ranging from a few acres to over 1 million acres. Allen pioneered many of the early adaptive grazing and grass fed protocols and forage finishing techniques and has spent the last 15 years refining those. He is a “recovering academic”, having served 15 years on the faculty at Louisiana Tech University and Mississippi State University. He holds a B.S. and M.S. in Animal Science from Clemson University and a Ph.D. in Genetics & Reproductive Physiology from LSU. He has authored more than 400 scientific and popular press articles, and is an invited speaker at regional, national, and international conferences and symposia. Major areas of research and business focus include soil health, adaptive forage & grazing management, integration of cover crops and grazing, high attribute pasture-based meat production, and alternative marketing systems.
Allen and his colleagues specialize in whole farm & ranch planning based on the concept of regenerative agriculture. Their approach creates significant “value add” and prepares the landowner for multiple enterprise/revenue stream opportunities that stack enterprises and acres. This approach allows for enhanced profitability and/or investment value.
He is featured in the Carbon Nation films, “Soil Carbon Cowboys” (http://vimeo.com/80518559) and “Soil Carbon Curious” (https://vimeo.com/130721684) and has a recently released book co-authored with Teddy Gentry, “Before You Have A Cow”. Allen is a regular contributor to “GRAZE” and has written articles for the “Organic Broadcaster”, “Stockman GrassFarmer”, and many other publications. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Grass Fed Exchange and the Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network, Core Team Member of the Pasture Project at the Winrock Foundation, and Co-Investigator for Team SoilCarbon. He also serves as an officer in the Starkville Civitan Club and is active in his local church.
Assistant Dean, Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension, University of Missouri
Robert Kallenbach has an extension/research appointment in forages. His program emphasizes forage-livestock systems with an emphasis on winter feeding. Specific projects include optimizing the use of stockpiled tall fescue, understanding residual feed intake in beef cattle, and performance of stocker cattle in season-long systems.
As assistant dean, Kallenbach is responsible for the day-to-day leadership including development, implementation, coordination and evaluation of the campus and statewide agriculture and natural resources extension programs for Missouri.
Kallenbach also serves as the director of the Commercial Ag Program.
USDA/NRCS Grazing Lands and Soil Health Specialist, Nashville, TN
- B. S. Degree in Plant Science, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
- 38 years’ experience with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
- Certified Crop Advisor through 2013
- National Grazing Conservationist 2014
- Publications: Water Points, Fencing for Serious Grazers, Co-author of “Meat Goats: Reproduction, Nutrition and Health” Alabama Cooperative Extension, Annual Management Calendar “Planners” Cattle and Small Ruminants, Soil Health Card, Indicator Plants
- Fact Sheets on: targeted grazing, prescribed grazing, cover crops, nutrient management, pest management, various species of cover
- Presentations: Numerous presentations on Grazing and Soil Management with emphasis on plant and animal diversity
Farm consisting of 320 acre pasture with beef cows, stockers, goats, hair sheep and Christmas trees.
Holistic International, Michigan
Ben is trained as a HMI Holistic Educator and is a HM practitioner. He has 30+ years as a distinguished Michigan State University livestock extension educator, conducted SARE grant supported grazing and soil health trials and has over 45 years of cattle and sheep grazing experience. Ben and his wife Denise have a May lambing commercial flock of 400 sheep and summer graze about 175 head of stocker cattle on their farm in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The tool of Holistic Management has been a huge factor in the success of their grazing program, the profitability of their livestock operation, and the quality of life that Denise and Ben enjoy.
Zach Trower , MU Graduate Research Assistant, Weed Sciences
Zach has a B.S., Crop and Soil Science, University of Wisconsin-Platteville. He is studying weeds that are common to Missouri pastures. His research focuses on surveying pastures throughout the state to identify and quantify the weeds present and to identify any correlations that may exist between the presence of specific weed species and properties of the soils.
Dr. Roberts is Professor of Plant Sciences at the University of Missouri and State Forage Crop Specialist in University Extension. He serves as a State Coordinator of the Missouri Grazing Schools. He is also Chairman of the Alliance for Grassland Renewal, a nonprofit group that teaches how to covert toxic fescue to novel fescue.
University Missouri Extension- State Fertility Specialist
Peter Scharf has an extension appointment in nutrient management. He is interested in developing and promoting methods to optimize nutrient application rates and to minimize nutrient movement to surface and ground water.
Mark Green, Lead Resource Conservationist, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Springfield, MO. Mark was born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska and was raised on a ranch in the mountains southwest of Denver, CO. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Agronomy from Southwest Missouri State University in 1983. Mark has worked for the SCS/NRCS since 1981. During that time, Mark has worked as a Soil Conservationist, Area Resource Conservationist, District Conservationist and Lead Resource Conservationist for SCS/NRCS. For the past 20 years, Mark has conducted electric fence field days and workshops for producers in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. He has primarily worked in southwest Missouri during his career with SCS/NRCS. Prior to working for NRCS Mark worked for Haubien Farms at Lockwood, Missouri. Other jobs prior to college included Beechwood Ranch, Joplin, MO; Corder Ranch, Avilla, MO and Limon, CO; Deer Creek Valley Ranch and Hidden Valley Ranch, Pine, CO. Mark grew up in a ranching family in Colorado. Currently Mark serves as an instructor and regional coordinator for SW Missouri Regional Management-Intensive Grazing Schools. Mark is a member of American Forage and Grassland Council and is a Board Member for Missouri Forage and Grassland Council. He also is a committee member for the Missouri High School Grassland Evaluation Contests in which he selects contest sites for the National Mid-America Contest and the local district contest. Mark has worked with grazing management in SW Missouri for the past 35 years. Most importantly, he has been married to Jill for 38 years and has three grown children and six grandkids!
John Jennings is Professor and Extension Forage Specialist for the University of Arkansas, Division of Agriculture and has 32 years of experience as a forage agronomist. He received an Associate in Arts degree from Crowder Junior College, BS degree from Southwest Missouri State University, MS degree from the University of Arkansas, and PhD from the University of Missouri. His forage extension program emphasizes grazing management, soil fertility, establishing legumes, the 4H Grassland Evaluation Contest, and the Arkansas 300 Days Grazing program.
Jason Wacha- Producer
Jason Wacha is an alfalfa farmer from Ozark, MO. He comes from many generations of farmers before him, being born in Central Iowa and brought up in his younger years on a grain and livestock farm. The family’s printing business moved them to Southwest Missouri in 1994, and he grew up as a young entrepreneur having small businesses himself while also helping out in the family business and learning several trades in the printing industry. After graduating high school he attended Drury University in Springfield MO for a degree in business, planning on following in his father’s footsteps to help run the company.
Then, in 2007, his family bought a farm and he was put in charge of maintaining it by haying and mowing. After the initial investment in all of the equipment, he knew he could also bale some of the neighbors hay to help them out, and better justify the ownership of the equipment. He picked up many custom haying jobs, more than he had ever expected, and what went from taking care of his own farm turned into a full time business. He also began leasing ground and improving it with high quality grasses to grow and sell for dairies and beef producers.
One day a customer asked Jason to grow him some alfalfa for the following year, so he planted his first 50 acres that next spring and had three great cuttings, and that one customer bought every bale. He then seen the potential for this market and educated himself on every aspect of growing alfalfa for over two years by attending national seminars, studying with university experts, doing days of independent research, running larger test plots, and seeking out potential customers across the area. After gaining the knowledge, much work was to be done in preparation to grow the alfalfa such as liming, fertilizing, and clearing land, not to mention investing in more equipment, hired hands, and land. The need for local alfalfa was high, and many people were facing much trouble trying to buy out of state, especially in times of drought. This prompted Jason to plant several hundred acres to alleviate the need, and supply the surrounding area with high quality forages.
Today he farms over 2500 acres, 1500 of which is alfalfa that is cut 5 times per year, and 1000 of high quality grasses cut 3-4 times per year to market and sell locally. The farm has 4 full time employees and 3 part time helpers in the summer. They utilize a full line of modern equipment to effectively harvest consistent crop. They have also integrated the process of making baleage as well as dry hay to combat the ever-changing weather. They deliver all of the forage they make themselves with their own fleet of semi trucks. Jason lives in Ozark with his fiancé Aftyn, and their two girls, Halle and Sofia. He can be reached at 417-844-2076 or you can visit the farms website at www.wachafarms.com
Gene Kinslow – Producer
Gene Kinslow is a retired high school science teacher and has been raising cattle since 1971. He purchased an inline bale wrapper in 2003 to be able to consistently produce high-quality forage. He has exclusively utilized round-bale silage since that time which allows he and his family to be “in and out” of the hay field in 24 hours. Since 2003, he has never had a rained-on or ruined hay crop. Gene is quick to point out that, “Round-bale silage is the best thing we have ever done for our cattle.”
Mark Brownlee, Producer, Lowry City, Mo.
Tall Grazing Builds Quality Forage for these Missouri Cows
Alan Newport Article Excerpt
MARK Brownlee says the more he moved into tall grazing, the easier and better life became on his Missouri cow-calf operation. The term “tall grazing” is used by some people to describe the sward of grass that develops when they use highstock- density grazing with full recovery of plants. The forage becomes tall and dense. An increase in forage species and an improvement in the quality and type of forages present also are normal. Brownlee says it wasn’t until he adopted this type of grazing in 2008 that everything began to change for the better.