Tuesday, November 29, 2022

5:00 – 6:30 p.m.  Farmer Cooperatives Conference Welcome Reception

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

7:00 – 8:30 a.m. Registration and  Continental Breakfast

8:30 – 9:30 a.m. Farmer Cooperatives: Policy Update

This session will highlight the trends, challenges, and opportunities for farmer-owned cooperatives with a focus on policy.

Chuck Conner, President & CEO, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
Moderator: Courtney Berner, Executive Director, UW Center for Cooperatives

9:30 – 10:45 a.m. The Changing Landscape of Labor: How Can Cooperatives Compete?

Instability in the agricultural labor force has reached critical levels. In this session, we will explore the overarching factors that have contributed to this long brewing labor crunch that will impact cooperatives for the foreseeable future. How can cooperatives use this information to strategically look at talent? GROWMARK leaders will share their process for addressing labor issues in a strategic and holistic manner. Engaging all levels of the organization, GROWMARK is pursuing several different methods to address labor and retention. This session will share highlights of two strategies: H-2A farm labor and intercompany labor sharing.

Jessica Ehler, SHRM-CP, Compliance & Employee Relations Manager, GROWMARK 
Rob Fox, Director of Research, CoBank
Tom Swearingen, Director of Talent Management, GROWMARK
Moderator: Amy Ryan, Senior Compensation and HR Consultant, Farm Credit Foundations

10:45- 11:15 a.m. Networking Break

11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Strategic Use of Technology and Data

This session will examine cooperative technology usage via four lenses: cyber and privacy; cloud; digitization; and innovation.

David Black, Senior Vice President, Enterprise Transformation, and Chief Information Officer, CHS Inc.
Moderator: Dr. Brian Briggeman, Professor & Director, Arthur Capper Cooperative Center, Kansas State University

12:15 – 1:30 p.m. Lunch and Networking

1:30 – 2:30 p.m. Telling Your Co-op’s Story to Improve Recruitment, Retention, and Success  

While the founding members and managers of your cooperative understood the hardship that led to the cooperative’s formation, subsequent generations are further removed from this powerful origin story. Regardless of their age, cooperatives should not lose sight of the need to tell their story and convey the value cooperatives provide to farm families and local communities. This session will explore how your cooperative can communicate its story to future members, directors, employees, and the general public in order to improve recruitment, retention, and the overall success of your cooperative.

Naomi Mangold, Senior Director Member Relations Ag, Land O’Lakes Inc.

2:30 – 3:30 p.m. Developing Leadership Skills in The Boardroom

An effective board chair provides leadership to the board enabling it to function as the highest decision-making body in the cooperative. However, not every board member has the characteristics and preparation to be an effective chair. How do cooperatives develop those crucial leadership skills for directors to take on the role of chair? In this session, we will  hear from a panel of co-op chairs on how their cooperative approaches chair preparation and developing leadership in the board room.

Dr. Michael Boland, Professor, University of Minnesota
Dorothy Harms, Chairman of the Board, Select Sires
Tim Lewer, former Chairman of the Board, Crystal Valley Cooperative

3:30 – 4:00 p.m. Networking Break

4:00 – 5:00 p.m. Balancing Act: Thinking Strategically about Non-Member Business

Many agricultural cooperatives are experiencing an increase in their non-member business. Whether the transactions arise internal to the cooperative’s traditional patron business lines but conducted with member-ineligible entities or are sought through expansion or growth external to the cooperative’s historical business units, generating profits from non-member business may be seen as an opportunity to provide greater member-level benefits. Yet, a growth strategy around non-member business has implications for cooperative patronage, equity management, investments, the role of capital, and governance. This panel session explores the financial, philosophical, and strategic factors that arise from non-member business and the governance tensions it can create. 

Carl Dickinson, Chief Executive Officer, Central Valley Ag Cooperative
Dennis Gardiner, Managing Partner, Gardiner + Company
Jon Ihler, President & CEO, MFA Oil Company

Moderator: Dr. Keri L. Jacobs, Associate Professor, MFA Chair in Agribusiness, and Executive Director of GICL, University of Missouri

5:00 – 6:30 p.m. Reception