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94th Annual Mid-Winter Meeting
February 1-2

The Farm Agents Mid-Winter Education Meeting is the premier event for those in the Illinois farm, agri-business, and crop insurance to come together for networking, education and an industry specific trade show.  This event draws over 100 agents all from all throughout Illinois, to learn about the impacts our industry is facing, legislative changes, and so much more. Learn how your business can grow, thrive and adapt to our ever-changing world. 

Pre-Registration Closed
Register on-site Thursday


Embassy Suites

100 Conference Center Dr., East Peoria, IL 

(309) 694-0200

Registration Fees

FAC Members - $70 
Big I Illinois Members - $100
Non-Members - $140
Non-Licensed Spouses - $40

Sponsorship Opportunities

Schedule (Times Subject to Change)

Thursday, February 1, 2024

         1:00 - 4:30pm


                   FAC Governing Chair, Lisa Quest

               Education Seminar: 
               Legislative Update & Navigating the Hard Market

                   Big I Illinois Staff:
                       Phil Lackman, CEO

                       Evan Manning, Director of Government Relations

                       Brett Gerger, Director of Education &
                              Agency Resources

         5:00 - 6:30pm  (*earlier start time)

           Company Reception & Tradeshow

Friday, February 2, 2024

         7:00 - 8:30am


         8:00 - 11:30am

               Opening Comments

                              FAC Governing Chair, Lisa Quest


               Education Seminar:

                Managing Risks While Planning for Profits in 2024

                             Chris Barron, Director of Operations & 
                                  Pres. of Carson and Barron Farms, Inc.


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Sponsorship opportunities are available. Click here for details.

Harvesting Sponsors

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Cultivating Sponsors

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Planting Sponsors

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Session Descriptions

Thursday Session - Legislative Update & Navigating the Hard Market 

By Phil Lackman, Evan Manning & Brett Gerger

Session description coming soon. 

Friday Session - Managing Risk While Planning for Profits in 2024
By Chris Barron 

This will be a thought-provoking presentation that will expose key opportunities and challenges that your agency may face as we head into what looks to be a challenging economic road ahead for many producers. The content will provide insight into meeting client needs, understanding producer’s economic situations, and adding value to your services.

Session #1: Building Your Agency to Meet Client Needs
Section #2:  Walking in Your Clients Shoes: Communication, Transition, and Succession
Session #3: Understanding the 2024 Numbers & Adding Value


Evan Manning, Big I Illinois Director of Government Relations

As IIA of IL Government Relations Director, Evan Manning is responsible for all aspects of the association’s government relations program. Big I Illinois also represents NAIFA-Illinois, Illinois State Association of Health Underwriters, and Illinois Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, collectively referred to as the Illinois Coalition of Insurance Brokers and Financial Advisors. The Coalition represents thousands of individuals and firms providing insurance and financial advice to Illinois consumers and businesses. 

Manning has experience in the private sector and most recently was an Appropriations Budget Analyst on the Senate Republican Staff.

Phil Lackman, Big I Illinois CEO
Phillip Lackman serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Big I Illinois and has served as lobbyist for the Big I Illinois, the Illinois Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA IL), Illinois State Association of Health Underwriters (ISAHU) and the Illinois Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (IAMIC). 

In his role as CEO, he works with the Board of Directors to develop goals and initiatives in response to the developing needs of membership and guides the Big I Illinois staff in implementation of those initiatives. 

In 2011, Lackman was named Speaker of the Illinois Third House, the professional organization for registered lobbyists in Illinois, and served a one-year term. He was inducted into the Samuel K. Gove Illinois Legislative Intern Hall of Fame in 2016, which honors former legislative interns whose careers have exemplified distinguished public service.

​Prior to joining the Big I Illinois, Lackman held the position of Director of Legislative Affairs for the Illinois Life Insurance Council and served as Secretary of State Jim Edgar’s Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs. He began his career in Springfield as a Legislative Analyst with the Senate Republicans.


Lackman graduated from Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois with a B.A. in Political Science/Speech Communication and completed the Illinois Legislative Staff Internship Program. He serves as an Ambassador for the Hope School in Springfield and on the Board of the Panther Creek Homeowners Association.

Brett Gerger, Big I Illinois Director of Education & Agency Resources

Brett Gerger is the Director of Education and Agency Resources for the Big I Illinois. Previously, he served as the Chief Deputy Director of Product Lines and Licensing at the Illinois Department of Insurance and was responsible for management of Licensing and Continuing Education Units; Property & Casualty; Life & Annuity; Health; and Producer Regulatory. Prior to that Brett served as the Deputy Director for Property & Casualty at the Department which oversaw Producer Regulatory Unit; Licensing & Continuing Education; and Property & Casualty consumer and compliance units.

Gerger served on many insurance license test development panels throughout his career as a subject matter expert. Most recently, Gerger served as the State of Illinois Group Insurance Division Manager with the Illinois Department of Central Management Services. In that role, he had oversight and management for the planning and implementation of policy and operations of the State’s insurance programs, including property, liability and benefits.   

Gerger started his 25+ year career at the Illinois Department of Insurance in the Producer Regulatory Division. Brett has his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

Chris Barron, Director of Operations & President of Carson and Barron Farms, Inc. 

Chris B. Barron is the Director of Operations and President of Carson and Barron Farms, Inc. which is in Rowley, Iowa, “Northeast Iowa”.

Chris graduated from the University of Dubuque in 1992 with a degree in Communications. In 1992, Chris, along with his brother-in-law took over their Pioneer Sales agency which had been run by his father for the past 22 years. Today the Pioneer agency is still an integral part of their operation. Chris has over 27 years of experience working with and understanding customer needs while at the same time steadily growing their own farming operations. 

Over the last 27 years, Chris has developed many decision tools to help producers improve the profitability of their operation. Most notably, he developed “Profit Manager” which is a tool used by hundreds of corn and soybean producers across the Corn Belt. 

Most recently, Chris has developed a new business model to assist producers with Multi-Generational Growth through the business “Ag View Solutions LLC.” Chris has implemented this plan into his own family’s farming operation with the mission of improving quality of life and maximizing profit opportunities.  Chris and his wife Alissa along with their son, Shay Foulk, work as a team consulting across the country in over 16 states and Canada helping Ag businesses and farmers with multiple business decisions including business structuring, transition and succession planning, collaborations, value assessment, margin management, and peer group facilitation. 


Terms and Conditions
Registration and attendance at, or participation in, Big I Illinois meetings and other activities constitutes an agreement by the registrant to the use and distribution (both now and in the future) the registrant or attendee’s image or voice in photographs, videotapes, electronic reproductions, and audiotapes of such events and activities by Big I Illinois and other third parties, including but not limited to the venue, the host city, and the host CVB. Your registration may include technology that monitors your activities throughout the meeting, such as session attendance and booths visited. For more information, click here.

Fri AM
Thurs PM
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