Tag Archives: virtual

LINCOLN – Nebraska Extension has announced that the upcoming Women Managing Ag Land Conference will now be a be completely virtual experience. Originally scheduled to also be held at three in-person locations across the state, the event is still set for Dec. 2, from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Mountain Time.

The second annual conference will offer learning opportunities for female farmland owners and tenants looking to improve their business management skills and navigate the challenges of owning and renting agricultural land.

The keynote address, “Finding Happiness in the Craziness of Life,” will be delivered by Kathy Peterson, a farmer from Storm Lake, Iowa, and founder of PeopleWorks, Inc. She will also conduct a workshop, titled “Working with You is Killing Me!”

Peterson’s keynote and workshop will be broadcast live on Zoom during the conference. Participants will also have access to on-demand workshops on owning and renting agricultural land, including: “Improve Your Ag Lease by Improving the Landlord/Tenant Relationship,” presented by Extension Educator Allan Vyhnalek; “NextGen: A Win-Win for Beginning Farmers & Asset Owners,” by Karla Bahm, with the Nebraska Department of Agriculture; “Navigating Uncertainty in 2021: Nebraska Land Values & Cash Rental Rates,” with Agricultural Economist Jim Jansen;  and more.

Registration may be completed on the Nebraska Women in Agriculture website, wia.unl.edu. The cost is $25 on or before Nov. 18 and increases to $30 on or after Nov. 19.

This conference is hosted by Nebraska Extension and inspired by Annie’s Project. This material is based upon work supported by USDA-NIFA under

Award Number 2020-70017-32735 and by Farm Credit Services of America.

Adapting market development programs for U.S. pork, beef and lamb to a COVID-impacted world and meeting the rapidly changing needs of international consumers were dominant themes of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) Strategic Planning Conference, which was held virtually Nov. 10-13.

USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom kicked off the conference with a recap of 2020 export results, noting that U.S. pork exports are on a record pace, while beef exports have trended lower but are poised for a strong finish to the year. Halstrom noted that the recovery of foodservice activity in most key Asian markets is providing momentum for U.S. beef, with demand bolstered further by tightening supplies from Australia. He added that while pork exports to China have begun to cool from the unprecedented levels seen earlier this year, China’s demand will remain strong in 2021 and U.S. pork is well-positioned for growth in Japan, Mexico, Southeast Asia and Central and South America.

Keynote speaker Anja Manuel, a former diplomat, author and leading advisor on emerging markets cited recent experience with pandemics as one of the reasons many Asian countries have recovered more rapidly from COVID-19 compared to the U.S., Europe and Latin America.

“They have the experience of SARS and MERS, so they’ve been through a pandemic before,” Manuel said. “Their health systems are nationalized, so it’s easier than here to get everybody on the same page. They’re going to come back faster economically than the rest of us.”

Manuel said U.S. beef and pork have a great opportunity for further growth in China, if trade tensions on non-agricultural issues don’t interfere.

“We need to find a way where we’re honest about our differences – where we push back on the Chinese when they’re crossing the line, or we actually cooperate,” she said. “And I think one of those areas is agricultural exports. It’s really a sign of elegance and status in China to serve high-quality beef, pork, everything. [China’s middle class] wants things to be safe and natural and clean, and U.S. meat has all of those attributes. So, I think the market is there for you if the governments don’t get in each other’s way.”

Day two of the conference was highlighted by a panel discussion on creative marketing strategies. USMEF members heard from Joel Haggard, senior vice president for the Asia Pacific, South Korea director Jihae Yang and Gerardo Rodriguez, marketing director for Mexico, Central America and the Dominican Republic, on the challenges involved in meeting consumers’ needs through various stages of COVID-related restrictions. All noted that the surge in e-commerce, online ordering and delivery services, as well as expanded options for preparing higher-end meals at home, are likely to endure well into the future, even as restrictions are eased.

The conference concluded Friday with a presentation by former assistant U.S. trade representative Sharon Bomer Lauritsen and the election of USMEF’s new officer team.

Bomer Lauritsen, who recently retired from the U.S. government after 29 years of service and is now a trade policy consultant at Ag Trade Strategies, LLC, recapped many key trade breakthroughs for U.S. red meat over the years. She noted that while the Trump administration’s approach to tariffs and trade sometimes put agricultural exports in a negative position, it also helped bring key trading partners such as Japan and China to the negotiating table on longstanding market access obstacles for U.S. beef and pork. She also offered a preview of what to expect from a new administration.

“President-elect Biden has stated his priority will be fixing domestic issues first, but that doesn’t mean that the new administration at lower levels can’t lay the groundwork to build constructive relationships and a foundation for trade negotiation,” she said. “Biden also hasn’t rejected engaging on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), but has stated the U.S. would need to see changes. I think it’s possible to move forward with a Japan negotiation, although automotive issues will be difficult and could have ramifications for agriculture.”

Bomer Lauritsen feels that more than ever, the agricultural sector will need a unified voice.

“Agriculture will need to speak up with the new administration on its priorities, and we need to strengthen the bipartisan nature of American agriculture,” she said. “Over the past 30 years I’ve seen it to a small degree falling apart. There has never been a more important time to maintain a strong and unified agriculture and agribusiness voice at the state level, and in Washington, D.C., to balance the industrial voices. U.S. agriculture will need to defend and advance its interests, make sure they are heard over the non-ag voices, and keep the rules of trade strong and enforced to ensure that American agricultural exports continue to thrive.”

The new USMEF chair is Pat Binger, who leads international meat sales for Cargill Protein North America. Based in Wichita, Kan., Binger has been in the red meat industry for 33 years, including 17 years directing Cargill Protein’s overseas network of offices. He succeeds Idaho cattle feeder Cevin Jones, who chaired the organization for the past year.

Raised on a diversified farm in northeastern South Dakota and a graduate of Northern State University, Binger joined Cargill subsidiary Excel Corporation in 1987. His first opportunity to become deeply involved in international marketing came in 1991.

“While working in sales for another Cargill subsidiary, I was asked if I was interested in assuming responsibility for a small export business we had at that time,” Binger said. “Although I didn’t have any export experience, I said, ‘Absolutely!’ Shortly thereafter, I took a three-week trip to eight countries, traveling throughout Asia, meeting customers and gaining market exposure. I returned from that trip really excited about international business and the global red meat trade, and it’s been a passion of mine ever since.”

Despite facing trade barriers and an uncertain economic climate in many key regions of the world, Binger sees excellent prospects for further expansion of U.S. red meat’s global footprint.

“From a carcass utilization standpoint, we need to continue to find ways to expand our export product mix – that’s a big opportunity going forward,” he said. “Additionally, there are items today that our industry is not getting boxed, either due to lack of labor or a combination of labor and complexity, and that’s another opportunity that we need to manage through. But all in all, I am very optimistic about the U.S. red meat industry’s ability to take on challenges and seize the opportunities that lie ahead. I remain excited and highly encouraged about the future of our industry.”

Mark Swanson, chief executive officer of Colorado-based Birko Corporation, is USMEF’s new chair-elect. Dean Meyer, a corn, soybean and livestock producer from Rock Rapids, Iowa, will serve as vice chair. The newest member of the USMEF officer team is Secretary-Treasurer Randy Spronk of Edgerton, Minnesota. A past president of the National Pork Producers Council and the Minnesota Pork Producers Association, Spronk also served as chair of USMEF’s Pork and Allied Industries Committee and represented the pork producing and feeding sector on the USMEF Executive Committee. He serves on the board of directors of Wholestone Farms and is president and managing partner for Spronk Brothers Holding, which includes operations that produce pork and feedgrains, along with feed milling and delivery.

USMEF presented its 2020 Distinguished Service Award to Richard Wortham, executive vice president of the Texas Beef Council, while Bomer Lauritsen received the organization’s Michael J. Mansfield Award. More information on these awards is available online.

USMEF’s next meeting is the 2021 USMEF Spring Conference, which is set for May 26-28 in Minneapolis.

Adapting to the times, the U.S. Meat Export Federation kicked off its virtual Strategic Planning Conference Wednesday. In what has been a challenging time, U.S. meat exports are enjoying a strong year with market opportunities in the future.

Jessica Spreitzer, Trade Analyst with USMEF looks at global food service…


Dan Halstrom, President & CEO of USMEF talks on the effects of COVID-19…


Dan Halstrom, President & CEO of USMEF talks about struggles with countries that have banned U.S. products…

David Bruntz, Chair Nebraska Corn Board & USMEF Board Member looks at raw product export opportunities…

Anja Manuel, Co-Founder & Partner Rice, Hadley, Gates & Manuel LLC was the keynote speaker in the opening general session.  She talked about how Asia will recover quicker from COVID-19…

Anja Manuel, Co-Founder & Partner Rice, Hadley, Gates & Manuel LLC was the keynote speaker in the opening general session. She & USMEF CEO Dan Halstrom talked on the incoming Biden Administration…

The virtual Strategic Planning Conference will conclude Friday afternoon. Learn more online by visiting USMEF.org 

ST. LOUIS (October 30, 2020)— Commodity Classic has announced it will transition its annual conference and trade show, originally scheduled for March 4-6, 2021, in San Antonio, Texas, to an alternative digital format. The change was necessary due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The new format is expected to be offered the first week in March 2021.

“This is about doing the right thing for our farmers, exhibitors, stakeholders, and the broader community in terms of health and safety—which is our top priority,” said Anthony Bush, an Ohio corn farmer and co-chair of the 2021 Commodity Classic representing the National Corn Growers Association.  “After careful deliberation among our farmer-leaders and industry partners, the COVID-19 restrictions would prevent us from delivering the type of high-quality experience Commodity Classic attendees and exhibitors have come to expect and enjoy for the past 25 years.”

According to Brad Doyle, an Arkansas soybean farmer and co-chair of the 2021 Commodity Classic representing the American Soybean Association, directed health measures due to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic such as social distancing guidelines would prevent Commodity Classic from conducting the trade show, educational sessions, and farmer networking—each of which are hallmarks of Commodity Classic.  “Farmers and agribusiness companies rate Commodity Classic highly because of its unique energy, excitement and one-on-one engagement with agribusiness companies and fellow farmers,” he said. “The health and safety restrictions required will simply not allow us to provide a productive in-person event that is in keeping with our 25 years of being the nation’s best farmer-led, farmer-focused ag experience.”

The transition of the 2021 Commodity Classic offers an attractive opportunity for farmers who have never attended Commodity Classic, Doyle added.  “Now farmers from across the nation and even around the world can get a taste of the Commodity Classic experience without ever leaving their farms,” he said.

Jerry Johnson, Ag Sector Chair of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers said, “Agribusiness companies put Commodity Classic at the top of the list when it comes to opportunities to engage with farmers from across the nation,” he said.  “However, our concern for the health and safety of our customers and our employees takes precedence, so all of us in agribusiness will work with the farmer-leaders at Commodity Classic to find innovative ways to connect in 2021.”

Commodity Classic is now redirecting its efforts to developing alternative methods of connecting farmers and agricultural stakeholders.  “We realize the total Commodity Classic experience cannot be completely replicated online. Yet a key benefit of Commodity Classic is the educational sessions and presentations from agricultural thought leaders, which are even more important in today’s challenging environment,” said Bush. “We are already exploring ways in which we can deliver high-quality content in unique ways that allow farmers to get the information they seek from the experts they trust.”

The transition to an alternative experience is already underway.  More information on the transition will be available in the coming weeks.  To keep up to date, sign up for email updates at CommodityClassic.com.  More information on the 2021 Commodity Classic will also be available on the website.

The 2022 Commodity Classic will be held in New Orleans on March 10-12, 2022.  “Like everyone else in agriculture, we are really looking forward to reconnecting with everyone face-to-face,” Doyle added.  “We urge everyone to get these dates on their calendar and plan to join us in-person in New Orleans in 2022.”