The fourth MAB Professional Development Conference was held September 22-23 in Manhattan at the Clarion Hotel. More than 40 agribusiness professionals were on hand to learn about energy, global food security and ag policy.
“This is the first MAB conference I’ve been able to attend and I really enjoyed it,” Mark Seitz, County Extension Director for North Carolina Cooperative Extension and class of 2003 alum said. “This event gave us the opportunity to hear a lot of different perspectives on food security issues, as well as general agriculture issues. We obviously have very different perspectives about food, agriculture production, and about food needs and demand. Having a chance to hear from individuals from India, Thailand and Africa in addition to the U.S. speakers and get their thoughts about these topics is refreshing. I will certainly go home and think about the things I heard here and will share that information with coworkers.”
MAB Alum from the class of 2001 Ray Hammurland, Director of the Energy Division at the Kansas Corporation Commission provided an overview of the current global energy situation, followed by Marsha Webster, CFO of Hawkeye Gold, LLC., who talked about renewable energy sources; Dean Oskvig, President and CEO of B&V Energy, gave an update on technology solutions to meet global energy demands; and Dr. Rajinder Sidhu of Punjab Agricultural University spoke on the changing energy situation and needs in India.
After dinner Thursday evening, Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh, Professor of Agricultural Economics at K-State, gave his perspective of current agricultural policy issues in Washington, D.C. Well-known for his tell-it-like-it-is approach, Flinchbaugh said the inability of elected officials to compromise on general economy issues is negatively affecting agricultural policy, but he is confident there will be a new farm bill.
“This farm bill is definitely the most difficult one to write I’ve ever been involved with,” Flinchbaugh said. “We are in the midst of a perfect storm: we have a record federal deficit and we have a record net farm income. This farm bill debate will be a battle of the century, but there will be a farm bill.”
Global food security was the focus of the Friday morning sessions. Dr. Allen Featherstone, K-State Professor and MAB Program Director, gave a breakdown of food security issues. To gain a better understanding of the global situation, Dr. Pavel Sorokin of Moscow State Agro-Engineering University, shared a Russian perspective on feeding an increasing global population, while Dr. Daniel Conforte of Massey University talked about the development of dairy and livestock trading programs between South America and China. Terry Garvert, Specialty Foodgrains Team Leader - Grain and Oilseed Supply Chain North America, Cargill, discussed the outlook of Cargill’s future grains and oilseed production.
The event concluded with a roundtable panel discussion that connected all of these topics. Moderated by Dr. Keith Woodford of Lincoln University, the roundtable featured MAB Alum from the class of 2003 Dave Rock, Manager of Dealer Strategy, John Deere; Dr. Ravipim Chaveesuk, Professor at Kasetsart University; and Dr. Nicolas Habert, Professor at Purpan, offered more thoughts on the future of the food and agriculture industry and field questions from attendees.
“The speakers at this event were fantastic and the energy of the audience was great! People in the audience asked questions and engaged the speakers and maintained a very interesting conversation throughout the entire event,” said Dr. Vincent Amanor-Boadu, Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics at K-State.
Previous professional development events sponsored by the Master of Agribusiness program have been held in Kansas City and Junction City.
“This was a great educational experience. Definitely some of the best money I’ve ever spent. There is a wealth of educational knowledge at these events and it is valuable in shaping the future of agriculture,” said class of 2013 MAB student Grant Good, Sr. Design Engineer for AGCO Corporation.