• John Farris Founder & President

    Mr. Farris received a full-tuition fellowship to study economics and finance at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, where he was awarded a Master’s Degree. Before attending Princeton, Mr. Farris studied economics and philosophy at Centre College from which he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He has served as an economist at the Center for Economics Research at the Research Triangle Institute, as well as a senior economics consultant with both the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation. From 2006 to 2007, Mr. Farris served as Secretary of the Finance and Administration Cabinet for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

     

    In 2016, Mr. Farris was appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors for Kentucky Retirement Systems (KRS). He also serves on the Board of Directors of Kentucky Employers’ Mutual Insurance (KEMI), Green Brick Partners (NASDAQ: GRBK), and Kentucky Technology Inc., and is  Senior Investment Advisor to the Centre College Endowment.

  • Billy Ussery Director of Farm Operations

    Mr. Ussery started his career in 1985 with Continental Eagle Corporation where he rose to be in charge of operations in the Southeastern United States. Since, he has held management positions within a privately owned farming conglomerate in the Mississippi River Valley, managing tens of thousands of farmland acres and several businesses. Mr. Ussery has held key roles in many professional associations, including: as President of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, as Delegate to the National Cotton Council from 2006 to 2013, on the Board of Directors of the National Cotton Ginners Association, and as a Charter Member of the Arkansas Rice Merchants Association. Mr. Ussery received a degree in Agricultural Engineering from Mississippi State University.

  • Steve McKaskle Director of Organic Production

    Mr. McKaskle started farming in 1973 as a fifth generation farmer, and has over 25 years of organic industry experience. He is a pioneer in organic farm management, having worked with the USDA, the University of Missouri’s Bradford Research Center, and the Allison Organic Research & Demonstration Farm at Western Illinois University to develop organic weed control and cultivation techniques. Mr. McKaskle began farming organic cotton in 1993, and collaborated on the Sustainable Cotton Project, dedicated to the production and promotion of sustainably grown domestic cotton fiber. Steve was instrumental in convincing the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, to switch to 100% organic cotton for their products, and subsequently visited several Patagonia stores to speak about organic farming practices. After an F4 tornado destroyed the family cotton gins, equipment and farmstead in 2006, Mr. McKaskle began to produce organic rice and has become the largest domestic producer of organic aromatic and long grain rice. Mr. McKaskle has sourcing and distribution relationships with notable companies such as Chipotle, Whole Foods, United Natural Foods, KeHE, and Hiland Naturals. He has also worked with these companies to develop a transitional rice program that offers a price premium to farmers in the transitional stages of organic production. McKaskle Family Farms, LLC currently operates over 3,000 acres of land and cultivates and processes a variety of organic crops including: popcorn, Basmati, jasmine and long grain rice varieties, soybeans, corn, and wheat.

  • Chris Morris Managing Director

    Mr. Morris is a co-founder of LandFund Partners and received his Bachelor of Science degree in Financial Economics from Centre College, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude. At Centre, Mr. Morris was a three time All-American and medalist at the NCAA Division III Men’s Golf Championship. Prior to LandFund, Mr. Morris was a Senior Associate at Commonwealth Economics, a regional finance and development consulting firm. Mr. Morris is active in the Nashville non-profit community and serves as Venture Philanthropy Chairman for the Phoenix Club of Nashville.

  • Lauren Villnow Office Manager

    Mrs. Villnow acts as Office Manager & Analyst for LandFund Partners in Nashville where she manages day-to-day operations. She has an agricultural background with her family’s farm in Nebraska, where they have grown crops and raised cattle for generations. She received a full-tuition scholarship from Brenau University and earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology, graduating Magna Cum Laude with honors. Before coming to Nashville, Mrs. Villnow worked in Managed Care Contracting at a major health care provider in Atlanta, GA.