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Extension is back to agribusiness with new farm business educator in Central Illinois

HAVANA, Ill. – After an 11-year hiatus, Kevin Brooks returned to University of Illinois Extension in December as the farm business management and marketing educator for Fulton, Mason, Peoria, and Tazewell counties. He previously served in this role from 2000 to 2011 in Effingham and Champaign counties and brings a wealth of expertise and experience.

County Director Earl Allen says this field position is the first of its kind since the university relaunched the agribusiness team.

“Our unit is leading the way in bringing the agribusiness team back to Illinois Extension,” Allen says. “Kevin’s prior Extension and private sector experience and in-depth expertise in farm management is allowing him to quickly launch a strong program.”

As a licensed real estate broker with harVestco LLC in Champaign, Brooks has professionally managed and consulted on more than 25,000 acres of farmland and marketed grain for farm management customers as a professional farm management and trust officer. 

“My experience has taken me down a road through traditional commercial agriculture, small farms, and various enterprises,” Brooks says. “Farms I’ve managed range from highly erodible land to Class A farms. I’ve planned inputs, sold grain, and even completed the paperwork for organic certifications and inspections.”

Brooks has taught farm management, agribusiness management, crop science, crop production, soil science, pesticide application, grain marketing, and general horticulture at the college level. He also holds agriculture teaching certifications in Illinois and Missouri. 

“One of the biggest challenges I see producers face today is being able to effectively and efficiently manage the large amounts of information and data that comes at us with ever-increasing speed,” Brooks says. “I won’t pretend to know everything there is to know about agriculture, but when I don’t have the answers people need, I can rely on the researchers and specialists on campus. We will all work together to help address the challenges farmers face.”

Brooks has worked in and around the agricultural industry for more than 30 years and managed more than $250 million in farmland assets. He has experience in agricultural input sales in farm chemicals and seed. He has trained in agronomy at Purdue University and Iowa State University.

His areas of expertise include drones, agronomy, ag input sales, and farm loan analysis. He is a commercially licensed UAS drone pilot, holding an FAA Part 107 license. Early in his career, he was a Farm Management Specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, working primarily on farm loan analysis.

Kevin grew up on a corn and hog farm in Iowa. He received his bachelor's degree in agriculture business from Truman State University and a master's degree in agriculture education from University of Missouri.

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