Global demand and supply directly impact prices for American agricultural producers. The business side of the food chain - including food security - can require investment in transportation, terminals and other significant assets. How will agricultural cooperatives reinvent themselves in response to challenging opportunities? What financing options exist and how will members be rewarded?
The current global economic impact on agriculture, the challenges these volatile economic conditions create for ag cooperatives, and some of the responses adopted by ag cooperatives are addressed at the 14th Annual Farmer Cooperatives Conference set for Nov. 3-4 in Minneapolis.
Organized by the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, this event features the latest research, trends, critical thinking, innovative approaches and case studies about cooperatives as business entities. Attendees are agribusiness managers, board members, educators, researchers, accountants and many other professionals.
"It is the one national conference that focuses on agricultural cooperatives themselves, rather than on the state of the industry or an industry sector," says Anne Reynolds, assistant director for the UW Center for Cooperatives.
The theme this year is "Meeting Competitive Challenges: Cooperative Structure and Finance for the Future." Eight sessions in two days address global challenges in the food producer market, innovative approaches to finance, consolidation among cooperatives, price volatility, energy and the credit marketplace, and managing risk for cooperatives and their members.
Jennifer Keeling Bond, one of the national committee members planning the conference, notes, "Listening to experts weigh in on potential market developments may also provide attendees with the foresight to prepare for adverse or positive market developments. Seeing how other cooperatives have made adaptations may inspire audience members to try something new at their own co-op." Bond is an assistant professor in agricultural and resource economics at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, and conducts research in agricultural marketing. "This event not only creates a forum where practitioners and academics can share ideas and observations, it also provides a tremendous networking opportunity for top cooperative leaders," she adds.
The two-day conference will be hosted at the Radisson Plaza Hotel Minneapolis. Early registration is encouraged. Discounts are offered for registrations received by Oct. 6. More information about the conference and registration is available at www.uwcc.wisc.edu, or by contacting Anne Reynolds at 608-263-4775 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support for the program comes from CoBank, CHS (Cenex Harvest States), Dorsey & Whitney, Farm Foundation, Growmark, Land O'Lakes, Lindquist & Vennum, NCFC Education Foundation, Stoel Rives, Clifton Gunderson and Ralph K. Morris Foundation.
The UW Center for Cooperatives was established in 1962, focusing on education, research and outreach on all aspects of the cooperative business model, including development, finance, structure and governance. The Center fosters partnerships with corporate, organizational, governmental and educational agencies, and offers an interdisciplinary approach combining the resources of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Wisconsin-Extension.
Source: University of Wisconsin-Extension