2020 Eco-Ag Conference & Trade Show

December 1, 2020 12:00 am - December 4, 2020 12:00 am MT | Virtual Event


Farming and ranching are never easy, but 2020 has been unlike any year before it, presenting significant and unfamiliar challenges for farmers, ranchers, and agriculture professionals. A global pandemic, drought, trade wars, political instability, social unrest, and general uncertainty about so many things has left many searching for new, long-term strategies that will build resilience in their operations.

On Dec. 1-4, 2020, the Eco-Ag Conference gathered virtually to bring you practical, actionable solutions that will help you build healthy productive soils, cut costs, manage labor, sell your product, and reduce your risk.


Day One  – Dec. 1

  • Managing Plant Disease Through Mineral Nutrition (Dr. Don Huber)
  • Building Carbon While Growing Profits and Meeting Future Farming Requirements (Gary Zimmer)
  • Panel: The Role of Soil in Global Peace and Security (Dr. Vandana Shiva, Dr. Rattan Lal, Bob Quinn and John Ikerd, moderated by Ben Trollinger)

Day Two – Dec. 2

  • Pasture-based Livestock: Advancing Ecological, Economical and Emotional Resilience (Paul Dorrance)
  • Field Tour: DX Beef
  • Find Your Soil’s Weakest Link (Vail Dixon)
  • Keynote: Building Resiliency Into Your Farm (Gabe Brown)
  • Eco-Ag Achievement Award Presentation: Gabe Brown

Day Three – Dec. 3

  • Building a Collaborative and Resilient Farm Business to Feed Your Region (Marty Travis)
  • Field Tour: Rockey Farms
  • Soil Testing 2.0: Build Your Soil, Cut Costs & Increase Profits (John Kempf)
  • Keynote: The Land is Speaking (Nicole Masters)

Day Four – Dec. 4

  • Soil to the Soul (Dr. Nasha Winters)
  • Farm Tour: Sankofa Farms
  • Restoring Ecosystem Function on Farm or Ranch (Mark Shepard)
  • Panel: Lessons for Growing Eco-Agriculture’s Footprint (Anna Jones-Crabtree, Kimberly Ratcliff and Steve Tucker, moderated by Ben Trollinger)


Keynote: Gabe Brown

North Dakota farmer and rancher Gabe Brown stands at the forefront of the regenerative agriculture movement. He is perhaps best known for popularizing the concept of cover crop cocktails as a key strategy for jumpstarting soil health and nourishing soil biology, but that’s only one of his many contributions. Gabe, along with his wife, Shelly, and son, Paul, own and operate a diversified 5,000-acre farm and ranch near Bismarck, N.D. He’s also the author of the book Dirt to Soil, and has spoken at numerous Acres U.S.A. Eco-Ag Conference events.

Keynote: Nicole Masters

Nicole Masters is an independent agroecologist, systems thinker, author and educator. She has a formal background in ecology, soil science and organizational learning. She has been providing agricultural consulting and extension services since 2003. Nicole is recognized as a knowledgeable and dynamic speaker on the topic of soil health. Her team of soil coaches at Integrity Soils work alongside producers in the U.S., Canada and across Australasia. Supporting producers who work with over 1.1 million acres to take their operations to the next level in nutrient density, profitability and environmental outcomes. She is one of a growing number of people who are facilitating a rapidly expanding world of quality food production and biological economies. Her book titled “For the Love of Soil” showcases examples of the tools and principles producers are using to regenerate their soils. Describing a step-by-step triage of actions, so that you too can regenerate your land. www.integritysoils.co.nz

Kamal Bell

CEO of Sankofa Farms LLC, a multifaceted agricultural entity that seeks to assist changing the food intake habits of those living in and affected by food deserts.

Vail Dixon

Vail Dixon is a regenerative farmer and holistic grazing mentor and founder of Simple Soil Solutions, Grazing Power, Grow Your Soil, and ABC Beef (About Being Conscious Grass Beef). Vail intensively researches and demonstrates ways to repair damaged soil biologically, and economically, fostering a connection between soil, plant, animal, ecosystem and human health. She is building her farm in Nelson County, Virginia, into a regional training center for regenerative farming and living that integrates Holistic Management, permaculture, and biological farming. Vail is interested in building strategic partnerships and collaborative community across the food and soil health movements; so that we all can learn from and help each other achieve positive change for our planet.

Paul Dorrance

Paul is an author, speaker, consultant and regenerative agriculture advocate. He was raised close to the land, growing up on a small self-sufficient homestead in upstate New York. His journey back to farming started in 2013 when he started Pastured Providence Farmstead – a successful pasture-based livestock operation, marketing 100% grass-fed beef and lamb, as well as pastured non-GMO pork, poultry, and eggs directly to consumers in southern and central Ohio.

Paul writes for Acres, U.S.A. and speaks at agricultural conferences and gatherings around the country. Previously an active duty Air Force officer, Paul still serves our nation as a pilot in the Air Force Reserves. He is a graduate of Ohio Farm Bureau’s “AgriPOWER” leadership development program, sits on the Steering Committee of the “Ohio Smart Agriculture – Solutions From The Land” project, is the Chairman of the American Farm Bureau’s Issue Advisory Committee on Organic and Direct Marketing, and serves on the board of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association. Paul holds a BA in Aviation Computer Science, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (2001) and a MA in Military History – Civil War, American Military University (2009).

Dr. Don Huber

Dr. Don Huber, Professor Emeritus, Purdue University, has filled classrooms for years at Eco-Ag conferences. Attendees will learn from his 55 years of researching the epidemiology and control of soilborne plant pathogens with emphasis on microbial ecology, cultural and biological controls, nutrient-disease interactions, pesticide-disease interactions, physiology of host-parasite relationships; impact of GMOs and pesticides on soil, crop, animal and human health; and techniques for rapid microbial identification. He is author or co-author of more than 300 journal articles and three books.

John Ikerd

Dr. John Ikerd, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics, retired from the University of Missouri in 2000. He was raised on a small dairy farm, worked in private industry, and held several other academic positions, prior to returning to the University of Missouri. In the 80’s, John had a “conversion” of sorts after seeing the failures of the policies he had been advocating to farmers. He then reoriented his work toward agricultural and economic sustainability a means of supporting small family farms and rural communities. Since retiring, John has maintained an active speaking schedule and has authored numerous books and papers, many of which can be found at his university website. John is recognized as a longtime leading voice in the sustainable agriculture movement.

Anna Jones-Crabtree

Anna and her husband Doug own and manage Vilicus Farms, a first generation, organic, 9,600 acre dryland crop farm in Northern Hill County, Montana growing a diverse array of organic heirloom and specialty grain, pulse, oilseed and broadleaf crops under five and seven-year rotations. In eleven seasons, Vilicus Farms grew from 1,280 acres to a 9,600 acre nationally recognized farm by using USDA’s beginning farmer programs, employing extensive conservation practices, and fostering unique risk sharing relationships with food companies and land investment firms. With over 26% of their land in non-crop conservation and 400 acres seeded to native pollinator habitat Vilicus Farms became Bee Better certified in 2019.

Vilicus Training Institute (VTI) launched in 2013 to bring a new generation of land stewards to the Northern Great Plains. Since then, VTI has supported the farm in hosting over 11 apprentices, numerous interns and too many farm campers to count. Anna is a Donella Meadows Leadership Fellow and a recipient of the White House Greening Government Sustainability Hero Award. She holds a Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a minor in Sustainable Systems from Georgia Institute of Technology.

Anna served on the USDA Secretary’s Advisory Council on Beginning Farmers & Ranchers. She currently serves on the Xerces Society Bee Better Advisory Board. Given the realities of farming Anna still has an off-farm job with the USDA Forest Service. After several decades fostering more sustainable operations she is now currently serving as the Director for Data Governance for the Northern Region. Anna, Doug, and their three Jack Russell Terriers, are avid members of the Lentil Underground

John Kempf

John Kempf is a leading crop health consultant and designer of innovative soil and plant management systems. John is the Founder of Advancing Eco Agriculture, a leading crop nutrition consulting company, and a Managing Partner at Zeno Capital Partners — a investment fund working in the areas of agriculture, food production, medicine and clean energy.

 John Kempf grew up on a fruit and vegetable farm in northeastern Ohio and experienced first-hand the challenges faced by crop producers everywhere. Growing fresh market vegetables since 1994, he witnessed intensifying disease and insect pressure on crops that did not respond to the usual pesticide treatments. He began seeking to understand the underlying causes of disease and insect pressure on crops and learned how to prevent pest damage to plants by enhancing natural plant immunity with nutrition.

Learning from many leaders in the field of crop consulting and plant health, Kempf began building a comprehensive systems-based approach to plant nutrition, solidly based on the sciences of plant physiology, mineral nutrition, and soil microbiology. Today, Kempf is an internationally-recognized teacher on the topic of biological agriculture and plant immunity. Since 2006, Advancing Eco Agriculture has been a leader in the area of soil and plant nutrition, working with farmers internationally. John is a member of the Amish community and lives in Middlefield Ohio.

Dr. Rattan Lal

Rattan Lal, Ph.D., is a Distinguished University Professor of Soil Science and Director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center at The Ohio State University, and an Adjunct Professor of University of Iceland. Dr. Lal, native of India and a citizen of the United States, received the 2020 World Food Prize for developing and mainstreaming a soil-centric approach to increasing food production that restores and conserves natural resources and mitigates climate change. Over his career spanning more than five decades and four continents, Dr. Lal has promoted innovative soil-saving techniques benefiting the livelihoods of more than 500 million smallholder farmers, improving the food and nutritional security of more than two billion people and saving hundreds of millions of hectares of natural tropical ecosystems.

Kimberly Ratcliff

Kimberly Ratcliff is the manager of Caney Creek Ranch, a diversified ranching operation located in East Central Texas, started by her parents Wesley and Marie Ratcliff. Kimberly joined the ranch in 2007 after leaving her job with Bloomberg a New York City financial firm where she was a Branding Specialist. Kimberly Ratcliff manages and helps operate the family business producing registered Charbray Cattle, from which bulls, replacement heifers, semen and embryos are sold national and international. The ranch also produces commercial cattle and livestock feed resource.

In 2016, Kimberly Ratcliff launched Farm to Freezer Meat Company LLC which purchases finished cattle from Caney Creek Ranch’s with the mission to provide the highest quality ranch-direct beef possible, in a simple, convenient, and responsible manner. Kimberly is the founder and President of the 100 Ranchers Inc., a community-Based Organization (CBO) founded in 2008 with the goal of serving agricultural producers who are dedicated to work together to increase their bottom line and improve their livelihood by producing safe, clean, efficient, and marketable products.

Kimberly Ratcliff is Board Member of the following: Independent Cattlemen’s Association, Capital Farm Credit Advisory Committee, USDA Advisory Committee for Minority Farmers and Ranchers, PVAMU department of Agriculture Advisory Committee and Socially Disadvantage Farmers Ranchers Policy. Kimberly Ratcliff has a Bachelor’s degree from Long Island University, Ranch Management Diploma from Texas Christian University and is a graduate of Texas A&M’s, Texas Agriculture Lifetime Leadership Program. She has received numerous awards for her accomplishments by her peers in the agriculture community. These include Rancher of the Year by the following organizations: Landowners Association, Minority Landowners Magazine and Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Bob Quinn

Bob Quinn is an organic farmer and leader in promoting organic, sustainable agriculture around the world. With a PhD in plant biochemistry and degrees in botany and plant pathology, he has turned his family farm into an organic laboratory. Bob served on the first National Organic Standards Board, and has been recognized by industry leaders around the world, and received Rodale Institute’s Organic Pioneer Award. Bob is also the co-author of Grain by Grain: A Quest to Revive Ancient Wheat, Rural Jobs, and Healthy Food.

Mark Shepard

Mark Shepard is a Wisconsin-based permaculture designer, agroforester and ecological farming consultant. He and his family have transformed a typical 140-acre row-crop dairy farm into a permaculture-based perennial-agricultural ecosystem using oak savannah, successional brushland and Eastern woodlands as ecological models. In all, they have planted 100,000 trees on this property. The result is one of the first and finest farm-scale models of permaculture in the United States. New Forest Farm features chestnut, hazelnut and fruit trees, a variety of other fruits and vegetables, chickens, ducks, pigs and other animals. He is the author of Restoration Agriculture andWater for Any Farm, and is the subject of the video Restoration Agriculture in Practice.

Dr. Vandana Shiva

Dr. Vandana Shiva is trained as a Physicist and received her Ph.D. on the subject “Hidden Variables and Non-locality in Quantum Theory” from the University of Western Ontario in Canada. She later shifted to inter-disciplinary research in science, technology and environmental policy, which she carried out at the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India. Dr. Shiva has contributed in fundamental ways to changing the practice and paradigms of agriculture and food.

Her books, The Violence of Green Revolution and Monocultures of the Mind have become basic challenges to the dominant paradigm of non-sustainable, reductionist Green Revolution Agriculture. Through her books Biopiracy, Stolen Harvest, Water Wars, Dr. Shiva has made visible the social, economic and ecological costs of corporate led globalization.

Dr. Shiva chairs the Commission on the Future of Food set up by the Region of Tuscany in Italy. She is a board member of the International Forum on Globalization and a member of the steering committee of the Indian People’s Campaign against WTO. She also serves on Government of India committees on organic farming.

Marty Travis

Settled in 1830, Spence Farm is the oldest family farm in Livingston County, Illinois. Over the past 15 years, Marty, Kris and Will Travis, the partners of Spence Farm, have been working to restore habitat, revitalize the soil and develop relationships around food. In 2014, Spence Farm was chosen to represent the food farming community of the United States, as they were featured in the International Slow Food Almanac. Spence Farm is dedicated to fostering community around family farms. This is best demonstrated by the founding of two farmer cooperative groups- Stewards of the Land and Legacy of the Land- and the not for profit Spence Farm Foundation. Marty serves as the restaurant marketing and delivery person for Spence Farm and approximately 60 other farmers into Chicago. He is also the author of the recent book, My Farmer, My Customer.

Steve Tucker

Steve Tucker is a dryland, no-till farmer in Venango, Nebraska. He spent his childhood summers working on his grandfather’s farm, and after college returned to the farm, which had been a strictly wheat and summer fallow operation. Steve integrated ecofallow corn and also began to add proso millet and no-till into the operation. After seeing the effectiveness and efficiency of these ever-changing farming practices, additional crops were then added to diversify the rotation. Sunflowers, hay millet, oats and the recent addition of field peas are now part of the farm’s no-tillage rotation.

The transition of the farm away from conventional methods of tillage to a complete no-till system was not easy. Adding new technology, after 70 years with the same methods, came with a steep learning curve. Steve studied and experimented along with his grandfather to find methods that worked on the farm that only averages 14 inches of moisture a year. It didn’t take long to see that no-till farming practices were going to help increase efficiency, soil quality, reduce erosion and increase the bottom line.

Dr. Nasha Winters

Dr. Nasha Winters is a sought-after luminary and a global healthcare authority in integrative cancer research and consults with physicians around the world. She bridges ancient therapies with advancements in modern medicine in the digital era. Dr. Nasha consults with some of the most prestigious cancer centers in the US and has created robust educational programs for both healthcare institutions and the public on incorporating vetted integrative therapies in cancer care to enhance outcomes.

Dr. Nasha is bestselling co-author of The Metabolic Approach to Cancer which has received many accolades. She is also completing a 2nd forthcoming book on therapeutic diets for cancer with her co-author Jess Higgins Kelley, MNT and is a contributor and curator of a book on mistletoe highlighting clinical applications around the world. A personal journey with cancer, overseeing care of tens of thousands of patients worldwide, training practitioners in her methodology, presenting at medical conferences globally, Dr. Nasha is on a mission to educate and empower the nearly fifty percent of the population expected to have cancer in their lifetime. Prevention is the only cure.

Gary Zimmer

Gary Zimmer is Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of Midwestern BioAg. Known as the “father” of biological agriculture, Zimmer is an internationally known author, speaker, and consultant. He owns Otter Creek Organic Farm, a family-operated, award-winning 1,000 acre farm near Lone Rock, Wisconsin, and has been on the board of Taliesin Preservation Inc. since 2011. Zimmer is the author of three books, The Biological Farmer and Advancing Biological Farming, and numerous articles on soils and livestock nutrition.


You can still experience the 2020 Eco-Ag Conference – in your own home and at your own pace! This replay includes all presentations and Q&A sessions of the 2020 Eco-Ag Conference. Learn more and order it here: https://learn.acresusa.com/courses/2020-eco-ag-conference-replay

Bonus Content

We felt that our panel on The Role of Soil in Global Peace and Security was something that should be widely available to all. You can view it here, or on the Acres U.S.A. YouTube Channel. Please share it with all who understand and still need to learn about the importance of soil health!