Ray L. Brownfield, AFM, ARA, ALC was born and raised on an east-central Illinois grain and livestock farm. Early on, he was active in FFA, 4-H, sports and music.
Ray graduated from Illinois State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in education. Ray planned to teach high school vocational agriculture, but no teaching positions were available. Upon graduation from ISU, an entry level farm manager position opened up at the First National Bank of Peoria. He got the job but the draft board was knocking at his door. About one year later, Ray enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard, fully expecting to be deployed to Vietnam.
Fortunately, deployment never happened. Ray joined the Illinois Society of Professional Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ISPFMRA) and the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA) in 1966. Within five years, Ray earned the Accredited Farm Manager (AFM) designation, and four years later, earned the Accredited Rural Appraiser (ARA) designation.
During his thirteen years at the First National Bank of Peoria, Ray was promoted to Vice-President and Department Head. He also became very active in both the Illinois Society and American Society serving as President of the Illinois Chapter in 1977 and Chairman of the American Society Ethics Committee, helping to revamp the ethics and standards with then ASFMRA attorney, Marlin Opperman.
In 1978, Ray joined Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company in Chicago and was responsible for all farm management for the bank. Ray traveled throughout the United States as a special trouble shooter for the management of large and diverse farms from California to North Carolina and from Minnesota to Florida. In 1980, ASFMRA president Bob Walters appointed Ray to chair a new ad-hoc committee named the Coordinating Committee. Not necessarily a popular committee, but borne from necessity. In 1984, Ray was promoted to Vice-President and head of all agriculture real estate for Continental Bank.
In 1986, Ray joined the Northern Trust Bank, Northern Trust Agricultural Services Subsidiary. He again was head of all nationwide farm management services. Somewhere along the way, Ray began teaching the basic ASFMRA farm management course and did so for several years. In 1988, the Northern Trust sold their agricultural subsidiary to Prudential and the subsidiary was renamed Capital Agricultural Property Services, Inc. (CAPS). In 1990, Ray was named president of CAPS and continued in that position until retirement in 2003. During Ray’s tenure, CAPS grew to manage approximately 600,000 acres, helped acquire 500 million dollars of land nationally for three major pension funds and sold approximately 100 million dollars of farmland annually.
Ray chaired the ASFMRA Management Education Committee, served as a member of the Accrediting Committee, serviced as District III Vice-President, and in 2007, became President of the American Society.
Additionally, Ray served three consecutive terms a Chairman of the Conservation Technology Information Center, and was on the board of the National Association of Conservation Districts. Ray is past board member of The Chicago Farmers, currently serves on the Advisory Board of The Chicago High School of Agricultural Sciences, holding their honorary Chapter FFA Degree.
Ray is the recipient of the Illinois Chapter Hall of Fame Award, the Honorary Holbert Award from the Illinois State University Department of Agriculture, serves on the ISU Department of Agriculture Alumni Board, is on the Dean’s College of Applied Science and Technology Advisory Board and is the recent recipient of the College of Applied Science and Technology Hall of Fame Award.
Currently, Ray is nearing the end of his term as President of national REALTORS® Land Institute (RLI) where he holds the Accredited Land Consultant designation. Only two members have ever been President of AFRMRA and RLI. The other was Carl Hertz.
Ray continues to work at what he loves. After retirement from CAPS in 2003, he started a new company called Land Pro, LLC, currently managing approximately 4,500 acres, and is a real estate broker with john greene Land Company in Oswego, IL
Ray remained in the Army National Guard for 35 years achieving the highest rank possible as a Warrant Officer (CW-5), retiring in 2002. Only eleven percent of all Warrant Officers in the entire United States Army are authorized the CW-5 rank. Ray was awarded numerous awards and decorations, including the Expert Infantry Badge and three meritorious service medals.
Ray and his wife, Patty, resident in Naperville, Illinois and are members of Grace United Methodist Church, and over the years, have been very involved with various church committees. Ray has two children, Scott and Heather, and two grandsons, Trevor, nearly seven, and Aiden, age four.
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The American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA) is recognized as the premier organization for rural property professionals, providing excellent education, networking opportunities, and legislative representation for its members. The American Society was founded in 1929 and has 35 local chapters within seven regional districts throughout the U.S.