The Forum will open February 16 and the Official Program will begin February 18, at 8:00 a.m. ET
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The official Forum program will begin February 18, at 8:00 a.m. ET
The 2021 Agricultural Outlook Forum is now open! Take advantage of the early opportunity to tour the virtual environment and familiarize yourself with the features before the official program begins Thursday, February 18 at 8:00 a.m. ET. All presentations will be available on-demand for 12-months following the event.
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The Agricultural Outlook Forum (AOF) is USDA’s oldest and largest annual gathering.
The 2021 Forum, themed “Building on Innovation: A Pathway to Resilience,” builds on USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda, launched last year to align USDA’s resources, programs, and research toward the goal of increasing U.S. agricultural production by 40 percent while cutting the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture in half by 2050. The Forum program will focus on the central role science and innovation have played in helping the agricultural sector overcome challenges and build resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Forum will feature a panel of distinguished guest speakers and 30 breakout sessions developed by agencies across USDA. Topics covered include the food price outlook, innovations in agriculture, U.S. and global agricultural trade developments, and frontiers in sustainability and conservation. In addition, the USDA Chief Economist will unveil the Department’s latest outlook for U.S. commodity markets and trade and discuss the U.S. farm income situation.
About USDA’s Outlook Forum
USDA’s Agricultural Outlook Forum began in 1923 to distribute and interpret national forecasts to farmers in the field. The goal was to provide the information developed through economic forecasting to farmers, so they had the tools to read market signals and avoid producing beyond demand. Since then, the Forum has developed into a unique platform where key stakeholders from the agricultural sector in the United States and around the world come together every year to discuss current and emerging topics and trends in the sector. On average, 1,600 people attend the Forum each year.
The Forum, which is organized by USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist together with other USDA agencies, is independent of commercial interests and aims to facilitate information sharing among stakeholders and generate the transparency that leads to well-functioning open markets.
The Forum offers opportunities for exchanging ideas, information and best practices among producers, processors, policymakers, government officials, and non-governmental organizations, both domestic and foreign.
From veteran communications specialist to preeminent food safety professional, Jessica Badour has built a successful and diversified career developing compelling means of sharing information while engaging the public on essential issues. She is currently the Recall Coordinator & Outreach Specialist at the Georgia Department of Agriculture, where she focuses on implementing recall communications while facilitating educational and promotional outreach opportunities for the Department's Food Safety Division. The Long Island, New York, native–as well as wife, mother to two small human and one large Boxer dog--has lived in the greater Atlanta area since 2008 and is proud to call herself a Georgia peach. You can engage with her and help spread messages of food safety on Twitter @GDAFoodSafety.
Jim Barham currently serves as the Director for the Data Analytics Division of Rural Development's Innovation Center – an office devoted to developing innovative products, policies and practices to empower rural community transformation. As the Data Analytics Director, he leads a team of data scientists committed to harnessing the power of data to enhance evidence-based decision-making. Jim is also the acting Assistant Chief Data Officer for Rural Development (RD) where he manages the implementation of RD's data governance strategy. Jim has been part of the USDA family since 2007, starting in the Agricultural Marketing Service as an agricultural economist, where he worked to improve marketing opportunities for small and mid-size producers through a combination of research, technical assistance, and financial support. Jim has presented research and published several books and articles on regional food hubs, food value chains, local food distribution, and food systems financing. Before joining USDA, he worked extensively in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean with a number of nonprofit organizations and government agencies on agricultural development projects targeting smallholder producers. Jim obtained a MA in Cultural Anthropology and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Ecology from the University of Florida.
Laura Batcha is CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association, an umbrella organization representing more than 9,500 organic businesses across the $52 billion U.S. sector, including farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, certifiers, and regional producer organizations. She brings more than 25 years of hands-on involvement in the organic sector including as a certified organic producer and handler, and more than a decade of experience in various leadership roles in the private sector of the organic industry.
Under her leadership, the Organic Trade Association has established its Farmers Advisory Council to improve communication with organic producers, brought back Sector Councils to build community among groups of members, and developed the Organic Trade Association's voice in Washington through Organic PAC. She also serves on the Board of Trustees for The Organic Center, a non-profit organization focused on conducting research on the health and environmental benefits of organic and problemsolving through applied research.
As Executive Director of the World Food Programme, David Beasley continues his life's work bridging political, religious and ethnic boundaries to champion economic development and education. At WFP, Mr. Beasley is putting to use four decades of leadership and communications skills to mobilise more financial support and public awareness for the global fight against hunger. These efforts were recognised this year when the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded WFP the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize.
The fight against hunger is even more critical now, with rates steadily rising because of persistent conflict, the impact of climate change and, most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic. Under Mr Beasley's leadership, WFP has mobilised the resources required to respond to an ever-expanding caseload of people requiring food assistance. In 2020, the agency aims to reach up to 138 million people. Mr Beasley is also driving greater focus and attention to WFP's work beyond emergency food assistance, highlighting how longer-term development can help bring peace and stability to troubled regions.
Before coming to WFP in April 2017, Mr Beasley spent a decade working with high-profile leaders and on-the-ground programme managers in more than 100 countries, directing projects designed to foster peace, reconciliation and economic progress. He travelled to as many as 30 countries a year, organizing, leading or participating in conferences and missions in Kosovo, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen, among others. His work has allowed him to develop deep relationships with leaders around the world.
As Governor of the U.S. state of South Carolina from 1995 to 1999, Mr Beasley guided the state during years of economic transformation, helping to reshape the state's economy into a healthy, diverse and robust market. The work led to one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, with a dramatic increase in private sector capital investment. Mr Beasley was the first Governor in South Carolina to make a public push or the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the state capitol dome, a move that earned him the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.
Mr Beasley received his Bachelor's degree from Clemson University and a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from the University of South Carolina and taught at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. He was first elected to public office at the age of 21 as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives. He is married to the
former Mary Wood Payne and is the father of four children
Dr. Bryony Bonning is an eminent scholar and professor of entomology and nematology at the University of Florida, and Director of the Center for Arthropod Management Technologies (CAMTech), a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center. She earned her Ph.D. in 1989 from the University of London, UK and held postdoctoral appointments at the Natural Environment Research Council Institute of Virology in Oxford, UK and the Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis, before joining the Department of Entomology at Iowa State University in 1994. She moved to the University of Florida in 2017. She is a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Bonning has 158 publications, and has mentored 18 graduate students and 29 postdoctoral researchers. She oversees cutting edge fundamental research on insect physiology and insect pathology with the goal of developing novel, environmentally benign alternatives to chemical pesticides for pest management. A major emphasis of her current research program is the application of toxins derived from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) for management of Asian citrus psyllid. Her desire to see delivery of novel pest management solutions played a large part in her establishment of CAMTech to better align research conducted within academe with the need of industry for practical pest management solutions.
As CTO, Roger Buelow leads AeroFarms' innovation and capabilities team and works closely with R&D and Business Development. He is an LED innovator and engineering technologist with over 20 years of experience in government and the private sector. Roger previously served as CTO of Energy Focus (a publicly traded company) for ten years leading their R&D, Engineering, and Operations to refit the U.S. Navy with LEDs, develop lights that leverage blue light to help regulate sleep cycles, and to set the world's record for most efficient solar cell. Roger worked with AeroFarms in 2009 to help with lamp and fixture design, and he brings his extensive network and industry expertise with LEDs.
He has been the principal investigator on over a dozen federally funded research contracts spanning military and civilian technologies and holds over 20 patents covering a wide array of technologies. Roger has brought over 50 products from concept, through R&D, into engineering, and then onto the open market. Roger has a B.S. in Mathematics and an M.S. in Systems and Control Engineering from Case Western Reserve
University, Cleveland, Ohio.
Dr. Jean Buzby has worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service (USDA/ERS) for over 25 years. She is currently serving as the USDA Food Loss and Waste Liaison in the USDA's Office of the Chief Economist. Dr. Buzby has also been the Branch Chief of the Diet, Safety, and Health Economics Branch in the ERS' Food Economics Division. She is domestically and internationally known for her estimates of food loss at the retail and consumer levels in the United States. Dr. Buzby received her Ph.D. and M.S. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Kentucky. She received a B.S. from the Pennsylvania State University.
Andrea (Andi) Carlson, an economist in the Food Markets Branch of the Food Economics Division in USDA's Economic Research Service, researches food prices, with an emphasis on their impact on healthy diets and organic food purchases. She is the project lead for the Linkages project which allows users to import nutrient and food composition data into USDA's purchased scanner data and estimate individual food prices for dietary intake data. Her research interests include the affordability of healthy diets, tracking consumption over time, and examining organic
food purchases and price premiums. Carlson joined ERS after 9 years with USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) where she was the project leader for the USDA Food Plans, CNPP Food Prices Database, and a major contributor to the Cost of Raising a Child. She received her Ph.D. in Agricultural and Applied Economics from the University of Minnesota (1999), M.S. in International Development and Appropriate Technology from
the University of Pennsylvania (2002), and B.A. in Physics from St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN (1988).
Kevin Dobson is Vice President of Business Development, with DTE Biomass Energy and has been with the company since 2007. In this role, he leads all the acquisition and greenfield development activities of both landfill and dairy farm based renewable energy projects. The company develops and operates both renewable natural gas (RNG) and electric generation projects across the country. DTE's current portfolio includes 7 dairy based RNG facilities, 4 landfill based RNG projects and 12 landfill based electric generation projects.
Kevin's responsibilities include identifying prospects, evaluating economic and technical feasibility, proposal development, contract negotiations, and scheduling and implementation activities. Prior to DTE, Kevin worked in Ford Motor Company's Corporate Business Development group focused on mergers and acquisitions within the auto industry. He received his MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan in 2003.
Vicky Drew has served as the Vermont State Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service since June 2010 and guides a staff of 73 employees, located in 11 offices, managing an annual operating budget of more than $23 million.
Vicky is also responsible for directing technical and financial assistance available through NRCS to protect and improve soil and water quality in the impaired Lake Champlain Basin. She led the effort in 2012 to develop the Vermont Agricultural Water Quality Partnership to ensure close coordination of efforts across 9 federal, state, and non-profit agencies and organizations. This collaborative process continues to result in a more strategic approach to conservation implementation in the watershed, and new data over the past few years is showing significant reductions in phosphorus loading from agriculture.
A native of southeastern California, she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BS in Agronomy from the University of Georgia in 1985. She started her career in Georgia in 1983, with SCS/NRCS as a student intern and worked in six field offices in both Georgia and Rhode Island. She began her tenure in Vermont in 2006 as Assistant State Conservationist for Programs. She lives in Georgia, Vermont, with her husband Greg and daughter Madison.
Bill Even is the Chief Executive Officer for the National Pork Board based in Des Moines, IA where he has responsibility for leading Checkoff-funded research, promotion and education projects on behalf of the nation's 60,000 pork producers.
Prior to his employment with the National Pork Board, Bill served as the Global Industry Relations Lead and Commercial Unit Lead for DuPont Pioneer.
Bill also served as South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture from 2007 to 2010 where he managed six department divisions: Agriculture Regulatory Services, Agriculture Development, State Fair, Wildland Fire, Resource Conservation and Forestry, and Agricultural Policy.
Bill also served as Deputy Secretary of Tourism and State Development, Director of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, State Energy Policy Director, and Policy Advisor for Governor Mike Rounds.
Bill holds a degree in Agricultural Production from Lake Area Technical Institute, a B.S. in Agricultural Business from South Dakota State University; and a Juris Doctorate from Drake University Law School.
While in law school, Bill served as executive editor of the Drake Journal of Agricultural Law, clerked for the law firm of Hefner and Bergkamp, P.C., and interned with the Soil and Water Conservation Society and the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee in Washington, D.C.
Bill and his family own and operate a diversified crop and livestock farm near Humboldt, South Dakota. The farm was homesteaded in 1883 by his great-grandfather and Bill began farming in 1983. Bill and his wife, Janell, have three children and live in Adel, Iowa.
Ellen Hanak is vice president and director of the PPIC Water Policy Center and a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, where she holds the Ellen Hanak Chair in Water Policy. Under her leadership, the center has become a critical source of information and guidance for natural resource management in California. She has authored dozens of reports, articles, and books on water policy, including Managing California's Water. Her research is frequently profiled in the national media, and she participates in briefings, conferences, and interviews throughout the nation and around the world. Her other areas of expertise include climate change and infrastructure finance. Previously, she served as research director at PPIC. Before joining PPIC, she held positions with the French agricultural research system, the President's Council of Economic Advisers, and the World Bank. She holds a PhD in economics from the University of Maryland.
Jackie Haven oversees USDA's programs to set national nutrition policy, and design and implement innovative and effective science-based national nutrition promotion and outreach programs to improve the health of all Americans. She oversees projects including the development and promotion of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate, USDA's Nutrition Evidence Systematic Review, the Healthy Eating Index, and the USDA Food Plans.
Ms. Haven oversees the development of consumer communications resources that translate the Dietary Guidelines for Americans into consumer friendly messages and food icons such as the Pyramid, MyPyramid, and MyPlate, the ChooseMyPlate.gov website, USDA's award-winning SuperTracker and many campaigns including the recently released Start Simple with MyPlate and the Start Simple with MyPlate App.
Under the MyPlate public-private partnerships initiative, she helps lead a challenge to corporate America, youth, community and research organizations, educators, healthcare providers, and the media, to help magnify the reach of Dietary Guidelines nutrition messages by creatively working in ways that promote healthy eating practices and increase physical activity.
Ms. Haven has been with USDA for over 25 years. She holds a master's degree in clinical nutrition from New York University and bachelor's in psychology and marketing from the State University of New York at Albany. She is a registered dietitian.
Casey is responsible for the Growing oversight for the Houweling's Group of Companies. Casey brings the entrepreneurial spirit and extensive greenhouse experience learned over his 35 years working in his father's, and now his family's Company. Casey led the company from floral nursery roots in British Columbia, Canada to greenhouse vegetable farming, ultimately expanding with USA farming operations in California and Utah. Additionally, Casey provides consulting services to other Greenhouse Growers located around the world and has developed and patented industry advancing proprietary, sustainable growing technologies
Aaron Hrozencik is a Research Agricultural Economists at the USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) where his work focuses primarily on water resource issues in agriculture. Aaron received a PhD. In Agricultural and Resource Economics from Colorado State University in 2019. Aaron's dissertation explored how energy pricing influences groundwater use among agricultural producers in eastern Colorado. Before attending graduate school Aaron served as a Fulbright grantee in Morocco and received a Bachelors degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He grew up on his family's cow calf operation in western North Carolina.
Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young is the Administrator of the ARS, USDA's chief scientific in-house research agency, and currently the Acting Chief Scientist of USDA.
Prior to joining ARS, Dr. Jacobs-Young served in several scientific leadership roles including Director of the USDA
Office of the Chief Scientist, Acting Direct or for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and Senior
Policy Analyst in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. In these roles she transformed USDA's scientific coordination and made a lasting impact on the conduct, quality, integrity, and access to science for customers. In these roles she also elevated the visibility of agricultural research globally.
Dr. Jacobs-Young is a native of Augusta, Georgia. She holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Wood and Paper Science
and a B.S. degree in Pulp and Paper Science and Technology from North Carolina State University. She is also a
graduate of American University's Key Executive Program. Dr. Jacobs-Young is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, an If/Then Ambassador for the AAAS, and a 2016 recipient of the Presidential Rank Award.
Nathan Kauffman is vice president and Omaha Branch executive with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. In this role, he serves as the Bank's regional economist and representative in the state of Nebraska, recruits and works closely with the Branch's board of directors, and is responsible for briefing the Kansas City Fed's president – a member of the Federal Open Market Committee – on economic and business activity in the state. In addition, Nathan leads several Bank and Federal Reserve System efforts to track agricultural and rural economies.
Nathan joined the Federal Reserve in May 2012 and served as an economist in the Regional Affairs Department at the Omaha Branch prior to being named Branch Executive. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Iowa State University.
Ashley Kosiak is the Impact Programs Manager at the James Beard Foundation (JBF), overseeing the foundation's policy and advocacy work. After working at museums and historical sites in the Minneapolis area, she moved to NYC
in 2010 to pursue a Masters in Food Studies from New York University. With a strong belief in the power of chefs for positive food system change, the Impact Programs at JBF was a perfect fit. Ashley has led guided conversations for culinary communities across the country on topics ranging from sustainable seafood to regenerative agriculture to food and the identity of a city. Additionally, she has worked with chefs on public campaigns related to important food policy topics, such as food access and SNAP. Ashley spends her free time reading, running, and seeking out the perfect banana bread recipe
Tricia Kovacs is the Deputy Administrator for Transportation and Marketing in USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service. She leads AMS grant programs, including the Local Agriculture Markets Program (LAMP) grants, as well as local and regional food research and development activities. Tricia also oversees research and data dissemination on transportation of agricultural products from farm to market, as well as operation of the USDA Farmers Market, a living laboratory for farmers market best practices. Tricia came to USDA in 2016 as local and regional food systems policy advisor in the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator's Office. In that role, she coordinated efforts across USDA to support the local and regional food sector. Prior to joining USDA, Tricia managed Regional Markets programs at Washington State Department of Agriculture, where she was founding Program Manager for the state Farm to
School Program and led the Small Farm Direct Marketing Program.
Sanjeev is Chief Investment Officer and managing director of S2G Ventures, and he has been with the firm since its inception. Sanjeev has nearly 20 years of experience in sourcing, executing, managing and exiting venture and private equity investments, including a focus in agriculture and food companies. As Managing Director, Sanjeev is active in developing investments and managing portfolio companies including, serving on many portfolio company boards. His portfolio work ranges from genetics, crop protection, soil health, digital/IOT, crop insurance, merchandising, indoor agriculture, novel flavor and ingredients, new protein development, unique processors and brands that will feed this changing consumer.
He is passionate about the role of innovation, entrepreneurship, markets and system investing as a theory of change. Sanjeev has worked in the intersection of sustainability, technology and health in many regions, including Europe, Africa, Asia and North America. He has invested over $500 mm in venture and growth stage firms throughout his career.
Sanjeev began investing as a co-founder of the life sciences practice of the IFC, the $20 billion private investment arm of the World Bank. His previous investment roles include CLSA Capital Partners, Global Environment Fund, World Bank Group's IFC and JPMorgan. Sanjeev is a graduate of the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Dr. Barb Masters is the Vice President of Regulatory Policy, Food and Agriculture at Tyson Foods, Inc., where she provides regulatory vision and support for food safety and quality policies and procedures. She serves on the Board of Directors for GFSI and the Partnership for Food Safety Education.
Dr. Masters spent nine years as a Senior Policy Advisor at Olsson Frank Weeda, where she worked closely to advise with the meat and poultry industry to ensure regulatory compliance.
She served as Administrator of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service where she established a solid infrastructure of science-based policies and data analysis to reduce foodborne illness and product recalls. She is a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and Association of Swine Veterinarians. Dr. Masters holds her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Mississippi State University and a Food Animal Internship from Kansas State University
Lara Moody is the Vice President of Stewardship and Sustainability Programs at The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) where she is responsible for leading the development and implementation of the institute's programs to increase the use and adoption of fertilizer best management practices. She also oversees sustainability initiatives related to fertilizer production and its use in the field. Lara received a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural engineering and Master of Science degree in Biosystems Engineering from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. She is a Registered Professional Engineer.
Dr. Mathieu Ngouajio is the National Science Liaison for Plant Systems at the National Institute of Food
and Agriculture (NIFA). Prior to his National Science Liaison position, Dr. Ngouajio served as a National Program Leader from 2013 to 2019 in the Institute of Food Production and Sustainability, where he administered competitive grant programs including the Organic Transitions, the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. Prior to joining NIFA, Dr. Ngouajio was Professor in the Department of Horticulture at Michigan State University with a research and extension appointment. He received a Master of Science Degree in Weed Science and Plant Physiology from Virginia Tech and a Ph.D. in Weed Science and Plant Biology from Laval University (Canada). He completed a two-year Post-Doctoral Research at the University of California (Riverside) in Cropping Systems research. Dr. Ngouajio is a Fellow of the American Society for Horticultural Science
(ASHS) and past Vice-President of ASHS. He represents NIFA primarily regarding programs related to plant production and protection as well as organic farming.
David Preisler has been serving Minnesota's pig farmers for more than 20 years as CEO of the Minnesota Pork Producers Association (MPPA) and Minnesota Pork Board (MPB), where heoversees projects associated with the two organizations carried out by the six member staff at the Mankato-based MPPA/MPB office.
As CEO, Preisler advocates for Minnesota's pig farmers and informs public policy makers, as well as other audiences, on pig farming and its value to all of Minnesota. His legislative work takes place at the local, state and national levels. MPPA is a voluntary membership organization comprised of pig farmers, contract growers, farm employees, and allied industry partners. Preisler also oversees the investment of checkoff dollars in research, promotion, and education programs on behalf of the Minnesota Pork Board.
Prior to becoming MPPA and MPB CEO, Preisler worked for the University of Minnesota Extension Service
and as an agricultural education agent. He graduated from North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota
and experienced farming first hand while growing up on a diversified livestock and crop farm in northwestern Minnesota.
Taylor is the technology policy director of MIT's Internet Policy Research Initiative. In this role, he leads the development of this interdisciplinary field of research to help policymakers address cybersecurity and Internet public policy challenges. Taylor's current research focuses on three areas: leveraging cryptographic tools for measuring cyber risk, encryption policy, and international AI policy.
He was previously a senior economist at the OECD and led the organization's Information Economy Unit covering policy issues such as the role of information and communication technologies in the economy, digital content, the economic impacts of the Internet and green ICTs. His previous work at the OECD concentrated on telecommunication and broadcast markets with a particular focus on broadband.
Before joining the OECD, Taylor worked at the International Telecommunication Union, the World Bank and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (United States). Taylor has an MBA from MIT and a Ph.D. in Economics from American University in Washington, DC.
Since 2013, Dania Rodriguez has been the Executive Director of the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO) in Washington, DC. She has over two decades of demonstrated national environmental experience with expertise in the field of technical, financial and policy development and a comprehensive knowledge of State and Territorial (States) environmental programs.
For a number of years, she has served as the liaison between the States and numerous Federal Agencies such as EPA and DOD on important policy issues. As the Executive Director she runs the day-to-day operations of ASTSWMO. This includes managing the Association's Budget, Cooperative Agreements, the ASTSWMO Staff, and providing support to the ASTSWMO Board of Directors on national policy.
Prior to her career at ASTSWMO, Dania worked for the American Petroleum Institute (API). Dania received a B.A. in Political Science from Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, and an Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Georgetown University, McCourt School of Public Policy.
Shari Rogge-Fidler is an executive leader, passionate about the future of our global food system. She has developed a unique perspective through her experiences as a 5th generation farm owner/operator, organic food company executive and leadership roles across the food system. Shari is currently the CEO of Farm Foundation, with a mission of building trust and understanding at the intersections of agriculture and society. She has served on several corporate and non-profit boards, including Coastal Pet, Farm Credit Mid-America and The Nature Conservancy.
Karen Ross was appointed Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture on January 9, 2019 by Governor Gavin Newsom. In re-appointing Secretary Ross, Governor Newsom cited her unmatched leadership experience in agricultural issues nationally, internationally, and here in California, in areas including environmental stewardship, climate change adaptation, and trade. Secretary Ross was initially appointed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in 2011.
Before joining CDFA, Secretary Ross was chief of staff for U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a position she accepted in 2009. Prior to that appointment, she served as President of the California Association of Winegrape Growers from 1996- 2009, and as Vice-President of the Agricultural Council of California from 1989-1996. Her prior experience before moving to California included staff work for a United States Senator, a presidential candidate, and government relations for rural electric cooperatives and public power districts.
Secretary Ross is passionate about fostering the reconnection of consumers to the land and the people who produce their food, and to improving the access of all California citizens to healthy, nutritious California-grown agricultural products, celebrated for their diversity and abundance in serving local, national and global markets.
During Secretary Ross' tenure, the Department has focused on core functions to protect and promote California agriculture, investing in the Department's employees to provide the best service to farmers, ranchers and consumers and fostering an agricultural industry that embraces its role as a global leader on everything from the most technical aspects of farming to the broadest environmental imperatives.
Secretary Ross has strengthened partnerships across government, academia and the non- profit sector in the drive to maintain and improve environmental stewardship and to develop adaptation strategies for the specific impacts of climate change. She has initiated programs to provide greater opportunities for farmers and ranchers to engage in sustainable environmental stewardship practices through water conservation, energy efficiency, nutrient management, and ecosystem services; and she has worked to provide greater access to farm-fresh foods at school cafeterias through CDFA's Farm to Fork Program.
Secretary Ross grew up as a 4-H kid on a farm in western Nebraska. She and her husband, Barry, own 800 acres of the family farm where her younger brother, a fourth-generation farmer, grows no-till wheat and feed grains, incorporating cover crops and rotational grazing for beef production. The Secretary has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is a graduate of the Nebraska Ag Leadership Program. She has served on numerous boards and committees in California agriculture and with various academic institutions.
Andriy Rozstalnyy graduated from National Agricultural University (NAU) of Ukraine in 1997. He joined the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations (FAO) at its Subregional Office for Central and Eastern Europe in Budapest, Hungary in 2005. Dr Rozstalnyy contributed to the development and implementation of FAO animal health and livestock development programmes in Western Balkans, Eastern Europe and Central Asia countries. Dr. Rozstalnyy developed and supervised the implementation a number of FAO Technical Cooperation Programmes (TCP) on capacity development of veterinary services for emergency preparedness and risk management of high impact transboundary animal diseases (TADs) and zoonoses. Since emergence of African swine fever (ASF) genotype II in Georgia in 2007, he has been part of a team leading FAO's assistance in ASF control in Eastern Europe. Being a member of Global Framework for Progressive Control of Transboundary Animal Diseases (GF-TADs) for Europe, he has contributed to establishment of the Standing Group of Experts on ASF http://web.oie.int/RREurope/eng/Regprog/en_GF_TADS%20-%20Standing%20Group%20ASF.htm.
In 2018 Dr Rozstalnyy joined the Emergency Prevention System for Animal Health (EMPRES-AH) at FAO
Headquarters in Rome, Italy to develop policies and strategies for prevention and control of priority TADs
such as FMD, LSD, ASF and HPAI and provides assistance in the delivery of EMPRES programme. He leads
FAO works on ASF prevention and control including within recently launched GF-TADs Global Initiative on
ASF control http://www.gf-tads.org/asf/the-global-initiative-for-the-control-of-asf/en/.
Some highlighted contributions include:
Lee Schulz is an associate professor in the Department of Economics at Iowa State University and serves as the statewide extension speacialist on livestock economics and markets.
Joshua Seidemann is Vice President of Policy of NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association. Josh focuses on Federal regulatory issues as well as technology and market trends affecting the rural telecom industry. He supports research initiatives and programming for Smart Rural Community,SM an NTCA initiative promoting broadband-enabled economic development, education, health care and other industries; is co-chair of the NIST Global City Teams Challenge Rural & Ag SuperCluster; and serves on the Adoption and High-Tech Jobs working group of the FCC Precision Agriculture Task Force. He is a regular contributor to the NTCA blog and other media on emerging tech and other issues. Josh has published papers exploring economic and social interdependencies among rural and urban regions, technology and job market trends for rural spaces, and regional strategies for rural prosperity. Josh holds undergraduate and law degrees from Yeshiva University, and is admitted to practice in New Jersey, New York, and the District of Columbia.
Dr. Mo Shakouri, a Stanford Ph.D., is a Silicon Valley investor, entrepreneur, and international executive with over 25 years of experience in communications and electronics industry. He is well versed in formulating global partnerships and introducing broadband network initiatives to emerging markets, leveraging his vast business network rooted in San Francisco Bay Area and the entire US market. As an Internet connectivity evangelist, he has been working and/or liaising with multibillion dollar internet and tech companies. Mo's key areas of interest are bridging Silicon Valley ecosystem to innovation communities, promoting affordable broadband internet technologies, the industrial Internet of Things (IoT), millimeter wave technologies for FTTx networks, and neutral host Shared communications infrastructure. Mo serves as Chairman of the WiMAX Forum, Director of community Broadband in Joint Venture Silicon Valley and Founder, co-chair NIST Ag Rural GCTC Supercluster and CEO of Microsanj.
Joshua Stoll is an Assistant Professor of Marine Policy in the School of Marine Sciences at the Universityof Maine. His research focuses on questions about coastal community resilience, ocean governance, and fisheries policy. Joshua is the co-founder of the Local Catch Network and has been working to elevate the role of seafood in local and regional food systems for more than a decade. He holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Bates College, a Masters in Coastal Environmental Management from Duke University, and a PhD in Ecology and Environmental Sciences from the University of Maine. Prior to returning to Maine to join the faculty, he was an early career research fellow in the Global Economic Dynamics and the Biosphere Program at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Sweden.
Rebecca Thistlethwaite is an Extension Specialist and Director of the Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network at Oregon State University. She has a master's degree in International Agricultural Development from the University of California - Davis and was formerly co-owner of TLC Ranch, a midscale organic pastured poultry and livestock enterprise in California. She is author of two books on farming- Farms With a Future: Creating and Growing a Sustainable Farm Business (2012) and The New Livestock Farmer: The Business of Raising and Selling Ethical Meat (2015) and provides business and marketing consulting for sustainable farms and food businesses. Rebecca has over 23 years working in agriculture in many different facets, from farmworker and farm owner to agricultural researcher,
training beginning farmers, and policy advocacy. Rebecca lives in the Columbia River Gorge region of Oregon with her two children. When not running NMPAN, you will find her cooking, trail running, health coaching, or volunteering for local schools.
Ray Wheeler is a plant physiologist and senior scientist at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, where he leads the
advanced life support research group. This includes controlled environment studies with crops for food and oxygen production, CO2 removal, and wastewater processing. Over the years, Ray has studied plant responses to gravity, CO2, light, atmospheric pressure, and hydroponic crop cultivation. Ray has been co-investigator for several spaceflight experiments, including the first test to demonstrate potato tuber development in space, and studies using the “Veggie” plant growth chamber on the International Space Station to growth fresh vegetables for the astronauts. Ray is the author or co-author of more than 260 scientific research papers, and he has presented 30 international invited talks and over 75 domestic talks. Ray has held adjunct or courtesy appointments at 9 different universities over the past 25 years. He has received NASA's Exceptional Scientific the Achievement Medal, the USDA/ARS B.Y. Morrison Distinguished Lecturer Award, the American Society for Gravitation and Space Research Founder's Award,
the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Jeffries Award for Aerospace Medicine and Life Science
Research, and served as the Vice Chair for the Life Sciences Commission of COSPAR, the International Committee on Space Research
Mark Winkler is the Senior Director of Category Management for Beef and Pork at US Foods Corporate Headquarters in Rosemont, IL. Mark is originally from Hartford Wisconsin and is a graduate of University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. Mark has over 40 years of experience in the Foodservice arena, initially holding positions in Hotel Banquet Operations and Restaurant management. Mark transitioned into Broadline Foodservice Distribution starting in sales, eventually taking on a variety of roles including Marketing, Finance, Inbound Logistics, and Merchandising.
In 1998, Mark joined US Foods Merchandising team and has since held many leadership roles throughout organization. Mark started his US Foods career as a Senior Buyer in the Chicago market, then moved to a Corporate Merchandising Role in 2000. In 2002, Mark accepted the position of VP of Merchandising and Marketing for US Foods Cleveland, OH Division. During that time, Mark lead his team through a period of accelerated growth and facility expansion.
In 2012, Mark returned to the Chicago area and US Foods Corporate Headquarters as the Director of Merchandising/Category Management for the Dairy Category. In 2015, Mark transitioned to the red meat side of the business assuming the role of Senior Director of Category Management for Beef, taking on the additional responsibility of the Pork Category in 2019.
Mark has been married for 31 years and has 2 grown children. He enjoys distance running and golf. In 2016 and 2018, Mark participated in and finished the Boston Marathon.
Sara Wyantis President of Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc., a communications firm with offices in Washington, D.C., Sacramento, Calif. and Camdenton, Missouri. As a veteran farm policy reporter, she is recognized on Capitol Hill, as well as with farm and commodity associations across the country.
The newsletter and website she founded, Agri-Pulse, include the latest updates on farm policy, commodity and conservation programs, trade, food safety, rural development, and environmental and regulatory programs.
In addition, Wyant publishes early morning news summaries Daily Harvest and Daybreak, providing busy readers with a quick overview of the latest farm, food, and rural policy news each weekday. She frequently speaks at farm and commodity associations around the country.
Wyant formerly served as chairwoman on the Farm Foundation's board of trustees and as past president of the American Agricultural Editor's Association.
In 2015, Wyant was named to the Folio: "Top Women in Media" recognition in the Entrepreneurs category. She has been awarded a producer communications award from the United Soybean Board, and Oscar in Agriculture award for excellence in agricultural reporting from the American Agricultural Editor's Association and a leadership award from Agriculture Future of America. She is currently President of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters (NAFB) Foundation. In 2013, Wyant was recognized for outstanding service to agriculture by the Missouri Farm Bureau.
Wyant gained first-hand knowledge of crop and livestock production while growing up on a farm near Marengo, Iowa. She and husband Allan Johnson, parents of sons Jason and Jordan, also own the farm where her husband's family originally established a homestead near Almont, North Dakota.
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