Thomas E. Elam, PhD
President, FarmEcon LLC
Education: Dr. Thomas E. Elam has a BS degree in Economics with a minor in mathematics from Union University, Jackson, TN (1969). He has also earned MS (1971) and PhD (1973) degrees in Agricultural Economics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. His minor subject in graduate school was econometrics, the science of statistics applied to economics. Dr. Elam attended the University of Tennessee on a National Science Foundation Fellowship. He is a member of Gamma Sigma Delta, the national agricultural honor society.
Experience – Education: Dr. Elam has taught a wide variety of undergraduate economics and statistics courses. He has an excellent understanding of both theoretical and practical economics applied to markets and individual businesses. His teaching experience includes Northern Kentucky University, the University of Illinois, IUPUI, and the University of Indianapolis.
Experience – University of Illinois Agricultural Extension Service: While at the University of Illinois from 1974 to 1978, Dr. Elam served as a professor and statewide extension specialist in grain and livestock marketing. Working directly with Illinois grain and livestock producers across the state, he gained a deep practical understanding of the issues and opportunities involved in real world farming. While at the university Dr. Elam also served on the University’s Trust Farms marketing and management committee that supervised approximately 3,000 acres of corn, soybean and wheat production. In this role Dr. Elam assisted in the sales and pricing of the farm’s production.
Experience – Farming: In addition to his Trust Farms experience, Dr. Elam and his ex-wife were 50% owners of a small Tennessee timber and soybean farm. They assisted in the overall management of that farm.
Experience – USDA Economic Research Service (ERS): Prior to joining Elanco, from 1978 to 1979 Dr. Elam worked for the USDA in Washington DC. While there he was the section leader for the grains situation and outlook team. In this role he led a team of four analysts and five support staff. The area was responsible for preparation of the USDA’s feed grains, wheat and rice outlook reports, and other publications. Dr. Elam was also the ERS grains representative on the USDA World Agricultural Situation and Outlook Board. (http://www.ers.usda.gov/)
In this position Dr. Elam gained a greater understanding of U.S. and global grain markets, and their price dynamics.
Experience – Elanco Animal Health: While at Elanco Animal Health from 1979 to 2003 Dr. Elam was involved in a multifunctional role that spanned marketing, new products planning, strategic and business planning, and purchasing. This position gave Dr. Elam a unique role in the complexities of running and managing a global business that exceeded $700 million in annual sales at the time of his retirement. Experience specific to this particular legal matter included:
- A leadership role in sales and profitability forecasting for over 40 global Elanco operating subsidiaries, including the U.S.;
- Leadership for long range strategic planning for those same operating units;
- Business planning, including projecting sales, costs, and returns for the U.S. poultry, beef and pork market segments;
- New product business analysis and projections;
- Pricing and forward contracting for over $50 million per year of purchased inputs that mainly included agricultural commodities used in Elanco’s product production processes; and
- Sales and profitability forecasts for the agricultural enterprises that were the underlying basis for Elanco’s animal health business line. Those enterprises included cattle feeding, cow-calf, broiler production, and turkey production.
At Elanco Dr. Elam was a widely requested speaker at agricultural conferences in the U.S. and around the world. Ten years after retirement Dr. Elam continues to assist Elanco in these areas through consulting projects. As of 2012 the company is still using the strategic and business planning system created by Dr. Elam during his tenure. Employing that system, other planning tools, and an excellent leadership team, the company increased sales from $727 million in 2003 to over $2 billion in 2012. (www.elanco.com)
Experience – FarmEcon LLC: Dr. Elam’s is FarmEcon LLC’s president and sole employee. Dr. Elam runs all aspects of his business, including the financial and tax dimensions. He has built his own customized accounting and tax estimation system. He established and maintains his company’s Uni-K 401k plan.
In November, 2006, just three years after he founded FarmEcon LLC, Dr. Elam was recognized by Poultry USA magazine as one of the top 20 consultants to the U.S. poultry sector.
Work performed by FarmEcon LLC has included all dimensions of the U.S. broiler and turkey sectors. As a result of that work Dr. Elam has recent experience in chicken demand and trade, production systems, grower economics, and Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) regulations.
Dr. Elam has also written a number of in-depth, client-confidential, customer and competitor profiles for several of his clients. These profiles include analysis of the financial prospects for those businesses.
In 2010 Dr. Elam wrote an expert opinion for the National Chicken Council that analyzed the potential impact of proposed GIPSA broiler contracting rule changes on production costs and other dimensions of contracted live chicken production. Partially as a result of that opinion, USDA elected to not pursue most of the proposed changes that would have affected chicken contracting terms and conditions.
Dr. Elam has written client-confidential competitor and customer profiles for several clients.
Dr. Elam also authored an expert opinion paper for use by CoBank clients. This paper was a comprehensive review of U.S. broiler sector demand, supply, trade and price issues. It included detailed in-depth profiles of the top 20 U.S. broiler integrators.
Dr. Elam has written several expert opinions on the effects of the Renewable Fuel Standard and ethanol federal tax credits on food prices and associated effects on food producers. Due to opposition to these mandates and subsidies the ethanol tax credit has been discontinued, and the EPA is considering scaling back 2014 ethanol mandates.
Experience – Litigation: Dr. Elam has written several expert opinion papers that involved litigation. The first was a $145 million suit that involved alleged damages to a poultry integrator business arising from hurricane Katrina in 2005. That suit was settled out of court for significantly less than the claimed damages. Dr. Elam was retained by the defendant.
The second litigation expert opinion arose from a 2011 $3 million lawsuit for damages from an alleged unfair dismissal of a contract poultry grower by an integrated poultry processor. That suit was dismissed by a local trial court summary judgment. However, the state appeals court reversed the summary judgment, and the case is ongoing.
Dr. Elam has been retained by a poultry defendant in ongoing antitrust litigation and as an expert in two damage suits involving racial discrimination and the Farm Service Administration.
Experience – Sky-Vu Flyers, Inc. Finance Director: From 1981 to 1994 Dr. Elam was volunteer finance director for a not-for-profit flying club. In this role he was responsible for all day-to-day financial operations and long range planning for the organization. During his tenure the club grew from three to five aircraft and doubled its membership. Dr. Elam was responsible for capital planning and budgeting, cash flow forecasting, product costing and pricing, all accounting activities, and all day-to-day financial operations. He also was a member of the Board of Directors.
Dr. Elam instituted a formalized costing and pricing system that built periodic engine overhaul costs and refurbishment reserves into the club’s hourly aircraft rental rates and monthly member dues. This change in accounting practice ensured that the rates and dues were set to recover full costs plus a margin to fund aircraft refurbishment and/or eventual replacement. The result of this program was reduced borrowing needs and increased financial reserves. It was a key to the long term future of the club. That system is still in use today.
The change to a formal costing and pricing system caused the cost of dues and aircraft rental rates to rise. While some members objected, the Board of Directors unanimously supported the initiative. The leadership of the board was a key to adoption of this long range financing policy.
Between 1981 and 1994 Dr. Elam helped the club increase its aircraft and financial assets from about $100,000 to over $500,000 in aircraft value and financial investments. Over that period the club replaced two of its three aircraft and purchased two more.
In 1994 Dr. Elam left the position due to an increasing Elanco workload.
At the end of his tenure the much-larger club was free of debt and had adequate cash reserves for its engine overhaul and refurbishment program. In 2012 the club found it desirable to replace an aging aircraft with a newer one. Largely due to the costing system that Dr. Elam had begun, the club was able to fund the net cost of the purchase of the much newer Cessna 172 replacement aircraft from accumulated cash reserves. (www.sky-vu.org)
Experience – Indiana Wing, Civil Air Patrol Finance Director: Major Elam has served as volunteer Director of Finance for the 1,200 members of Indiana Wing of the Civil Air Patrol (INWG CAP). This organization is a civilian auxiliary for First Air Force, U.S. Air Force. It consists of a headquarters in Indianapolis and approximately 35 chapters scattered around the state. The Finance Director is directly responsible to the Wing Commander for the financial operations of the entire Indiana Wing organization.
The state currently has custody of nine operational aircraft owned by the U.S. Air Force. INWG flies those aircraft on a variety of missions that total approximately 1,750 hours per year. The Fiscal 2011 total operating income was approximately $205,000.
Maj Elam has held this position in two tours of duty, from 2007 to 2009 and 2011 to 2013. He has received leadership recognition from Indiana Wing, Great Lakes Region, and the national CAP finance team. He is responsible for budgeting, cash flow forecasting, and air and ground mission finances processing. He is also a mission pilot with over 1,000 hours of pilot in command time in CAP aircraft.
During his first tour Maj Elam was responsible for recovering over $25,000 in accounts receivables that had not been properly accounted for, or collected, by his predecessor. His prompt and complete recovery of those assets earned him a commendation from the Great Lakes Region Commander and the Senior Member of the Year Award from Indiana Wing.
Under Major Elam’s current leadership IN WG has largely transitioned from reliance on paper checks and mail to an EFT system for transactions with its members and vendors. He also led the Indiana effort to consolidate the independent financial operations of the state’s 35 chapters into a common bank account and accounting system, with the center of control in the Headquarters operations unit. The consolidation was mandated by CAP national headquarters.
Due to periods of time without a paid Wing Administrator to take care of day-to-day bookkeeping activities Major Elam has become very familiar with Air Force accounting standards and systems as they relate to CAP. He has successfully met those standards and accomplished all required accounting tasks for the accrual accounting system used by CAP. He holds the Finance Master Rating, the highest possible in the CAP system. (www.indiana-wing.org/www/index.php). Maj Elam continues to serve as Assistant Director of Finance.
Major Elam was named Indiana Wing Senior Member of the Year in 2005 and 2014.
Summary: Dr. Elam has a solid record of successful leadership in a wide variety of agriculture, business planning and financial management environments. His experience spans a management role in a $700 million multinational corporation to financial roles with several non-for-profit and charitable organizations, farm management, and his own consulting company. He has an excellent working knowledge of the relevant areas of finance, taxes, accounting systems, agricultural production, and farming economics.