University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives
Tropicana Hotel
Las Vegas, Nevada
October 29-30, 2001
Positioning for Performance
Program Presentations
Full Conference Summary
About the Annual Farmer Cooperatives Conference

The annual Farmer Cooperatives Conference was initiated in 1998 with the objective of assisting directors, management and employees of cooperatives, professional organizations, government and academia in:

  1. keeping abreast of major trends and issues impacting the existing and future business environment,
  2. gaining insights from other cooperatives, industry leaders, and researchers as to innovative approaches in addressing these issues and achieving business success, in achieving excellence in governance, capitalization and financing, management, business structures and strategic alliances, enhancing value to members, growing businesses domestically and globally, enhancing the cooperative business advantage and other related issues,
  3. creating value to participants from the information presented, critical thinking and exchange of ideas.
About the Annual Farmer Cooperatives Conference

The 2001 conference built upon these previous conferences by focusing on how farmer cooperatives may position themselves for success in the 21st century. The program began with an in-depth look at the major trends in the domestic and international business environment of the entire food system from farm inputs to the consumer food products and opportunities for cooperatives in this environment. This was followed by a closer look at the effectiveness of the existing cooperative business structures, adjusting to meet the diverse needs and demands of the farmer-member- customer and the customers of ingredient and food products, and the ways of capturing the competitive business advantage of farmer cooperatives.

About Earlier Farmer 2000 Conferences

The first conference in 1998 was designed to serve as a catalyst for invigorated thinking about the future of farmer cooperatives. Speakers assessed the powerful forces associated with an increasing globalization and industrialization of agriculture and the approaches farmer cooperatives should embrace to realize their full potential. The 1999 conference focused on excellence in governance. The objective was to help cooperative leaders identify governance systems and approaches to fit their cooperative's changing business. Building financial strength was the theme for the 2000 conference. Presented and discussed were innovative approaches to capital budgeting, debt and equity financing, equity management, financing joint ventures, international financing and the changing role of the audit committee.

Program Presentations
Welcome & Outline of Conference Goals
Bob Cropp, Director, University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives
Steve Halbrook, Vice President, Farm Foundation
Setting the stage: Searching for a competetive advantage
Chris Peterson, Professor of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University
Positioning for Performance: Reshaping cooperatives for success in the 21st Century
Bernard Loyd , Principal, McKinsey & Company, Inc.
Trends at the farm level: implications for cooperatives
Mike Boehljie, Professor of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University
Pros and cons of single versus multi-commodity cooperatives
Mike Cook, Robert D. Partridge Endowed Professor in Cooperative Leadership, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri
Panel: Is a federated cooperative structure still viable?
Moderator: Anne Reynolds, Assistant Director, UW Center for Cooperatives
Tom Larson, Executive Vice President, for Member and Public Affairs
Al Schivley, Board President, Farmland Industries, Inc.
Larry Swalheim, General Manager, Cottage Grove Cooperative
Evening Banquet & Discussion
Positioning for Performance
Dennis Mullen, President and CEO, Agrilink
Panel: Meeting the needs of our food customers
Moderator: Robert Cropp, Professor & Director, UW Center for Cooperatives
Dan Dillion, President & CEO, Welch Foods, Inc.
Douglas D. Youngdahl, President & CEO, Blue Diamond Growers
Steve Dunphy, Vice President of Sales, Land O'Lakes, Inc.
Panel: What is it about the cooperative form of business that gives co-ops a competetive advantage?
Moderator: Randall Torgerson, Deputy Administrator, USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Services
Rodney Christianson, CEO, South Dakota Soybean Processors
Thomas McKenna, President, United Sugars
Harold Tilstra, DVM, Luverne, Minnesota (powerpoint presentation)
Harold Tilstra, DVM, Luverne, Minnesota (conference paper)
Wrap-Up: What can we take home with us?
William Nelson, President, The Cooperative Foundation and CHS Cooperatives Foundation
2001 Sponsors

University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives
Cenex Harvest States Foundation
Farm Foundation
The Cooperative Foundation

2001 Co-Sponsors

Cooperative Education Alliance, composed of:
Minnesota Association of Cooperatives
University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives
Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives
Arthur Capper Cooperative Center at Kansas State University
Cornell Cooperative Enterprise Program
Midwest Cooperative Education, Research & Extension Consortium
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
Northeast Cooperative Council
University of Missouri Graduate Institute of Cooperative Leadership
University of Saskatchewan Centre for Cooperative Study
United States Department of Agriculture - Rural Business-Cooperative Service

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