University of Wisconsin–Madison


2018 Conference Program

Wednesday, November 7

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 8

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

8:45 – 10:00 AM    Farmer Cooperatives: Policy Update
With all eyes on Washington this election year, this session will offer a perspective on the policy environment and issues to follow in the upcoming year.
Chuck Conner, President and CEO, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives

10:00 – 10:30           Refreshment Break

10:30 – 12:00 PM  Leveraging Sustainability for Competitive Advantage
Agriculture is under increasing demand and pressure from consumer advocacy groups and regulators to deliver on sustainability goals. In this session we will hear from co-op leaders on how they are leveraging sustainability initiative to increase their competitive advantage.

12:00 – 1:15 PM Lunch

1:15 – 2:30  Governance Spotlight
Mike Boland, Professor and Director, University of Minnesota Food Industry Center

2:30 – 3:30  Engaging External Expertise in the Board Room
A board of directors elected by and from the membership is one of the co-op model’s greatest assets. There are times, however, when a board can benefit from the experience and expertise of outside professionals. This session will explore the different techniques cooperatives have used to bring outside expertise into the board room.

3:30 – 4:00 PM Refreshment Break

4:00 – 5:00 Strategic Growth: Options Beyond Mergers and Consolidation
In an environment of growth via mergers, cooperatives can struggle with identify preservation, culture, and maintaining strong connections with their members.  We will explore the innovative strategies that companies have used to grow smartly, enhancing their employee and customer commitment and retaining their mojo.
Tom Field
, Director, Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

5:00 PM – 7:00 PM Cocktail Reception

Friday, November 9

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

8:30 – 9:30 AM CEO Succession Planning
Executive succession planning involves defining characteristics and skills, aligning goals, developing mechanisms to identify quality candidates. In this session, we will hear from co-op leadership on how they are preparing for CEO succession.
Ann Kafer, Vice President, Human Resources & Strategy Officer, GROWMARK
Pete Kappelman, Board President, Land O’Lakes

9:30 – 10:15 AM Defined Benefit Retirement Plans
Farmer cooperatives use a variety of defined benefit and defined contribution programs for their employees. As mergers become more common, directors need to understand the differences between plans and the impact on the cooperative.
Mike Boland, Professor and Director, University of Minnesota Food Industry Center
Tim Goodman, Partner, Dorsey & Whitney
Mike Trosen, General Manager, Meadowland Farmers Co-op

10:15 – 10:45 AM Refreshment break

10:45 – 12:00 PM Talent Retention in Your Co-op
Farmers and co-op managers face a challenge hiring and retaining qualified employees. In this session, leaders will share how their co-ops are leveraging the cooperative difference to retain talent and to build cooperative culture.
Kimberly Frederickson, Director of Learning and Organizational Development, Organic Valley
Phil Kenkel, Professor and Bill Fitzwater Cooperative Chair, Oklahoma State University

12:00 PM Adjourn