University of Wisconsin–Madison


Conference Program

Wednesday, November 1

8:00 AM – 5:00 PM  Pre-con: NCERA-210 Annual Meeting
NCERA-210 is a regional research project that promotes research and education on agricultural cooperatives. It also provides a forum for decision-makers and analysts from industry, government, and universities to discuss research results and their implications.

For more information about the NCERA-210 Annual Meeting, please click here.

5:00 PM – 7:30 PM  Registration open

6:00 PM – 7:30 PM   Welcome Reception 

Thursday, November 2

7:00 AM – 8:30 AM  Registration and Continental Breakfast 

8:30 – 9:30 AM    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 and CEO, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives

 9:30 – 10:15 AM   From the Ground Up: Analyzing the 2018 Farm Bill
As the farm economy struggles with low commodity prices and depressed income, Congress prepares the next Farm Bill. In this session we will dive deep into how the bill will impact farmers.
Dr. Joe Outlaw, Professor and Extension Economist, Co-Director Agricultural and Food Policy Center, Texas A&M University

10:15 – 10:30           Refreshment Break

10:30 – 11:30 AM  Advocating for Farmer Cooperatives
With a new administration still in its first year, governmental affairs leaders will address the regulatory environment, tax reform, and other current issues.
John Engelen, Vice President, Government Affairs, CHS Inc.
Autumn Price, Vice President, Government Relations, Land O’Lakes
Chuck Spencer, Executive Director, Government Relations, GROWMARK

11:30 AM – 12:15 PM Agricultural Trade Outlook

In this session, we will explore the current administration’s direction on trade policy and how proposed tariffs and other trade restrictions could impact farmer cooperatives and their bottom line.
Sarah Gallo, Washington Representative, CHS Inc.

12:15 – 1:15 PM Lunch

1:15 – 2:30  Expansion of a Large Danish Farm Supply Co-op
As Europe’s largest farm supply cooperative, DLG has grown from operating solely in the Danish market to an international conglomerate with activities in 18 countries. This interactive session will explore changes to governance that come with expansion.
Neils Dengsø Jensen, Chairman, DLG
Mike Boland, Professor and Director, University of Minnesota Food Industry Center

2:30 – 3:00 PM Refreshment Break

3:00 – 4:00  Governance Case Study: Tennessee Farmers Co-op
As the agribusiness industry continues to change with more mergers and acquisitions, Tennessee Farmers Co-op (TFC) proposed a structural change to unify its member co-ops and TFC into one, unified retail cooperative.
Jim McWherter, Chief Operating Officer, Tennessee Farmers Co-op
Kenneth Nixon, Board Chair, Tennessee Farmers Co-op

4:00 – 5:00 Defining Membership: Challenges and Successes
As farms convert to LLCs, trusts, etc., how do we define who is the member? This panel will explore the challenges of defining membership and the impact on equity redemption plans, board eligibility, and mergers.
Hal Clemensen, Chair, South Dakota Wheat Growers
Mark Cade, Board Chair, Compeer Financial
Moderator: Brenda Forman, Executive Director, South Dakota Association of Cooperatives

5:00 PM – 7:00 PM Cocktail Reception

Friday, November 3

7:00 AM – 8:30 AM  Registration and Continental Breakfast 

8:30 – 9:15 AM Cybersecurity Starts at the Top
The direction to prioritize cybersercurity must come from cooperative management and the boardroom. Participants will learn how to assess risks, how to effectively support IT, and how to effectively monitor your cybersecurity program.
Tony Taylor, Sr. Director Infrastructure & Security, Land O’Lakes

9:15 – 10:00 AM  Finding Healthcare Solutions for Farmers
40 Square Cooperative Solutions is launching a joint self-insurance plan for Minnesota farmers. Panelists will share lessons learned and ideas for replication in other states.
Jeff Nielsen, President & CEO, United Farmers Cooperative
Char Vrieze, Project Manager, 40 Square Cooperative Solutions

10:00 – 10:30 AM Refreshment break

10:30 – 12:00 PM   Economic Trade-offs of Agricultural Consolidation
Speakers will provide their perspectives on consolidation and successful responses, including mergers, and strategic alliances.
Keri Jacobs, Assistant Professor, Iowa Institute for Cooperatives Endowed Professor, Iowa State University
Rich Sexton, Professor, Agriculture and Resource Economics, University of California-Davis
Alan Woodard, CEO, Comark Equity Alliance
Allan Wegner, Board Chair, MKC

12:00 PM Adjourn