More than 690 country elevator managers, their key employees and those who supply goods and services to the industry have preregistered to attend the 40th anniversary edition of the NGFA’s Country Elevator Conference.
Widely known as the “meeting of the year” for country elevators and grain merchants, the event is scheduled for Dec. 11-13 in Chicago, Ill., at the Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile. The day-and-a-half conference and trade show will feature business-focused sessions on the most important topics and issues confronting the industry in 2012.
Keynote speaker is former two-term Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, who served as the state’s top official from 2003-11 and is a former country elevator manager and NGFA Country Elevator Committee member. Perdue, now founding partner of Perdue Partners LLC, Atlanta, Ga., will offer his perspectives on top national policy issues and how the industry can better shape policy outcomes at the national and state levels. He also will share additional insights during an NGFA Grain and Feed PAC breakfast preceding his keynote address on Dec. 12.
Also on Dec. 12, a special session on the MF Global Inc. bankruptcy will feature CME Group Chief Operating Officer Bryan Durkin and bankruptcy attorney George Angelich from the NGFA’s outside law firm of Arent Fox, New York, N.Y. Durkin will provide an update on the exchange’s activities in the aftermath of the bankruptcy and its plans for reviewing potential changes that may be needed to better protect customer-segregated funds. Meanwhile, Angelich will update the status of the bankruptcy trustees’ actions and what country elevators and others with customer funds still not reimbursed should consider doing to protect their business interests.
The Dec. 12 program also will feature a major session on trends in the banking industry that will affect lending capacity and credit availability for country elevators and other agribusinesses. Panelists will include Lance Holden, senior vice president of Wells Fargo Bank of North America, Overland Park, Kan., who will focus on traditional lending instruments and innovative, newer products structured specifically for the grain, feed and processing sector; Dan O’Neill, managing director and head of the Agricultural Portfolio Unit at MetLife Investments, also of Overland Park, Kan., who will provide a longer-term agricultural lending perspective, as well as refinancing opportunities; Mike Hechtner, Central Region president for CoBank, Omaha, Neb., who will discuss trends affecting farm credit system lenders; and Jeff Swanhorst, executive vice president and chief credit officer of Agribank, St. Paul, Minn., who will offer perspectives on how financial conditions of producers can affect the health of agribusiness firms.
The global and U.S. economic outlook will be the topic addressed by Scott Colbert, director of fixed income management and senior economist at Commerce Bank of North America, St. Louis, Mo.
Meanwhile, the impact of the new food and feed safety law on country elevators and other grain-handling and processing operations will be discussed by one of the lead Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials involved in implementing the law – Dr. Dan McChesney, director of FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, Rockville, Md.
The Dec. 12 program will conclude with an informative and entertaining session featuring author Mark Stein. The author of the New York Times’ best-seller – “How the States Got Their Shapes” that became the basis of a History Channel series of the same name – will share how the jigsaw-puzzle layout of the United States emerged, focusing on how agriculture and the need for transportation service literally shaped the states.
The half-day program on Dec. 13 includes four major topics: