This year's conference...

Seven years ago, with seed money provided by the Farm Foundation, the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives (UWCC) held a national conference entitled The Farmer Cooperatives Conference. The objective was to assemble agricultural cooperative leaders and academics to stimulate critical thinking and exchange ideas on how global and industrial trends were impacting cooperatives.

The conference was highly successful and UWCC was encouraged to hold another in the coming year. Due to rapid changes in agriculture—starting at the farm level and continuing throughout the entire food chain—the increasing globalization of the food system is challenging, as are the opportunities for agricultural cooperatives, whether locals or regionals. The result: cooperative leaders and academics have found real value in coming together at an annual conference where they may gather ideas and discuss critical issues such as innovative capitalization, governance, adding value, new business structures, serving the needs of large customers, and the like.

The conference theme varies from year to year. This year focused on Cooperative Opportunities in a Global Economy. While the very first conference in 1998 did discuss global trends impacting cooperatives, most topics and issues at our annual conferences have had a domestic focus.

We increasingly find agricultural cooperatives entering into the international marketplace to market commodities, value-added foods and ingredients, and to secure fertilizer, energy and other inputs for farmers. And we increasingly see cooperatives entering into various joint ventures and strategic alliances with international partners. Whether locals or larger regionals, all cooperatives are impacted by the globalization of agriculture. This force will become even more pervasive in the future.

Terry Barr, a Chief Economist with the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives set the stage for the conference with a presentation on Trends in the International Business Environment and Implications for Future U.S. Farm Policy: Impacts on Cooperatives. Additional speakers discussed international cooperative membership, joint ventures with international partners, financing international business activities, entering the global marketplace, off-shore sourcing of inputs, and communicating with boards of directors and members about opportunities in the global business environment. Our 8th annual conference offered something for all agricultural cooperatives!

Program and Presentations

November 7, 2005
7:00 - 8:00 a.m.
  • Registration & Continental Breakfast
8:00 - 8:30 a.m.
  • Welcome & Objectives of the Conference
    • Bob Cropp, Interim Director, University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives
    • Steve Halbrook, Vice President, Farm Foundation
8:30 - 9:30 a.m.
  • Trends in the International Business Environment and Implications for Future U.S. Farm Policy: Impacts on Cooperatives
    Terry Barr, Chief Economist & Vice President, Agriculture & Trade Policy, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (.pdf format)
9:30 - 9:45 a.m.
  • Break
9:45 - 11:45 a.m.
  • Cooperatives and International Membership
    Moderator: Michael Lindsay, Attorney, Dorsey & Whitney LLP
  1. 9:45 - 10:15 a.m.
    Domestic Anti-trust Laws and Exemptions Regarding International Membership.
  2. 10:15 - 11:45 a.m.
    PANEL: Cooperative Experiences with International Membership
    • Growmark: What are the Differences Between their Experiences in Canada and Mexico?
    • Ocean Spray: Experience with Membership in Canada, Northland Lawsuit
    • Sunkist Growers: Why Sunkist Growers has not Taken in Members from its International Operations
      • David Krause, Board Chair
11:45 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
  • Lunch
1:00 - 2:45 p.m
  • PANEL: Joint Ventures with International Partners
    Moderator: Mark Hanson, Attorney, Linquisit & Vennum PLLP
2:45 - 3:00 p.m.
  • Break
3:00 - 4:15 p.m.
  • PANEL: Financing International Business Activities
    Moderator: Mike Boland, Associate Director, Kansas State University Arthur Capper Cooperative Center
4:15 - 5:00 p.m.
5:00 p.m.
  • Adjourn
5:30 - 6:30 p.m.
  • Social Hour
6:30 p.m.
  • Dinner & Keynote
  • Global Politics, Economics and Technology; Opportunities for Cooperatives
    Moderator: Anne Reynolds, Assistant Director, Univ. of WI Center for Cooperatives
    Bernard Tao, Professor of Biochemical & Food Process Engineering, Purdue University (.pdf format)
November 8, 2005
7:00 - 8:00 a.m.
  • Registration & Continental Breakfast
8:00 - 9:30 a.m.
  • PANEL: Entering the Global Marketplace: Lessons Learned
    Moderator: Shermain Hardesty, Cooperative Development Specialist, Univ. of California-Davis
9:30 - 9:45 a.m.
  • Break
9:45 - 10:30 a.m.
  • PANEL: Off-shore Sourcing of Fertilizer: The Challenge to Regionals and Locals
    Moderator: Roger Ginder, Professor, Iowa State University
    • Agriliance: George Thornton, President & Chief Executive Officer
    • LaSalle Farmers Grain Company: Dave Peters, General Manager (.pdf format)
10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
  • PANEL: Communicating on the Global Business Environment to Boards and Membership
    Moderator: William Nelson, President, CHS Foundation & The Cooperative Foundation
11:30 - 11:45 a.m.
  • Closing comments
    • Kim Zeuli, Assistant Professor, Agricultural & Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Evaluation
  • Adjourn

For event and registration information: University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives / 608-262-3981. E-mail your request to receive conference mailings:

NCR-194, as in the past, followed the Farmer Cooperatives Conference on November 8-9, 2005.