Marlene Boersch
Owner & Managing Partner, Mercantile Consulting Venture Inc.

Marlene has been actively involved the agriculture industry in Canada since obtaining her Master’s Degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Saskatchewan in 1983. She traded and exported Canadian commodities (including pulses) internationally for 20 years while working for Cargill Grain, XCAN Grain Ltd, and for Berdex Canada Ltd.  Marlene was the driving force behind creating Berdex Canada Ltd. and served as Exec. V.P. for 8 years.

In 2003, Marlene co-founded Mercantile Consulting Venture with Anthony P. Temple, who she had worked with at Cargill. Marlene currently is Co-owner and Managing Partner at Mercantile, a professional services company specializing in private label market intelligence, risk management solutions, and project consulting. The company has grown to be active in Canada, Australia and the EU.  More detail is accessible at www.mercantileventure.com.   

Dave Brown
Vice President of Global Commodities, Mondelēz International (MDLZ)

Dave Brown is Vice President of Commodity Price & Risk Management for Mondelēz International (Nasdaq ticker MDLZ, formerly Kraft Foods), a global snack food company. As a 28-year veteran of food and agribusiness, Dave and his global team manage over $6B in commodity volatility for major materials such as cocoa, grains, edible oils, sweeteners, dairy products, nuts and energy products. His duties include management of Taloca AG, a Swiss-based internal cocoa bean trading legal entity.  He is also a member of the Global Mondelez Leadership Council.

Prior to joining Mondelez, Dave held roles of increasing responsibility at Sara Lee Corp., and ConAgra Foods and Downes-O’Neill LLC. Dave holds a BS in Agriculture from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Auburn University.  

Patrick Christie
CEO, Conservis Corporation  

Patrick Christie has over 20 years of experience in technology development and consulting. Conservis is delivering a comprehensive technology and service platform to make real-time farm management possible for the family farmer as well as the global institutional operation. Prior to Conservis, he was Executive Vice President of WAM!NET and helped deliver over $1.6 billion of network services under contract with the U.S. Navy. He was also President of Cybernet Systems, a highly profitable technical systems integration firm that generated over $6 million in the U.S.

John Corbett, Ph.D.,
Agricultural climatologist and Co-Founder and Chief Scientist, aWhere, Inc.

John Corbett, Ph.D., is an agricultural climatologist and aWhere, Inc. Co-Founder and Chief Scientist. John focused his career on growing a repertoire of applied temporal-spatial applications in agricultural meteorology and a scalable, enterprise, location intelligence platform.  aWhere maintains a global resource of high-resolution, current, daily observed and forecast agronomic weather data for localized ‘smart content’ planet-wide.  With 25+ years working in agriculture and international development, John now leads a team that includes software experts, agricultural scientists, and business leaders leveraging technology to deliver actionable, timely, location specific information meeting a wide spectrum of needs across the agricultural value chain.  Prior to aWhere, John worked with Syngenta as Head of Global GIS; at Texas A&M’s Blackland Research Center; with ICRAF – Nairobi; and with CIMMYT – Mexico.

Philippe de Laperouse
Managing Director at HighQuest Partners

Philippe de Lapérouse is Managing Director at HighQuest Partners. He has more than 20 years experience in senior leadership positions with global companies in the agro-industrial and value-added food chain and in private equity investing. Previously, as director of business development for Bunge North America Inc., he was responsible for the company’s efforts to expand its industrial operations into Mexico and the Caribbean Basin, biotech and e-commerce initiatives, and public relations/corporate communications (before and after Bunge’s successful IPO in 2001). Mr. de Lapérouse is a director of Sodrugestvo, the largest independent soybean crusher in Europe with its head office and main production facility in the Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia. Mr. de Lapérouse received an MBA from The Darden School of Business at The University of Virginia and a BA from Trinity College.

Rachael Dettmann Spiegel
Associate, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP

Rachael Dettmann Spiegel is a member of FaegreBD’s food regulatory and litigation practice. Rachael has an extensive background analyzing FDA, USDA and state regulations affecting food and feed manufacturers. Her practice focuses on supporting food and agribusiness clients with litigation, regulatory and contracting matters. Rachael has extensive experience in developing FSMA compliance programs for food and agribusiness industry clients. Rachael’s practice also focuses on litigation pertaining to food borne illness, personal injury and regulatory compliance. Prior to joining FeagreBD, Rachael was an agricultural economist at the USDA and CoBank, a Farm Credit Bank. Her in-depth understanding of business practices within the food industry, as well as her comprehensive knowledge of food, and ingredient supply chains helps her provide practical and effective support to food and agribusiness clients alike.

Richard Galloway
Oilseed Industry Consultant, QUALISOY

Richard Galloway has over 40 years’ experience in all aspects of grain merchandising, oilseed processing, vegetable oil refining and biodiesel production and marketing. He is President of Galloway & Associates, LLC, a business consulting firm serving the oilseed industry. He is a lead consultant to QUALISOY and United Soybean Board soybean composition activities. Richard’s work with private clients has included numerous domestic and Latin American companies. Prior to consulting, Richard spent 25 years in the oilseed processing, edible oil refining and grain industries with Quincy Soybean Co. and Gold Kist, Inc. He is co-editor of Soybeans: Chemistry, Production, Processing, and Utilization, a widely used reference book published by the American Oil Chemists Society and author of the Foreword to Designing Soybeans for 21st Century Markets.

Eduardo Galo
Managing Director - North America, Novus International, Inc.

Mr. Ed Galo is the Managing Director for Novus International in North America. He is accountable for the business in the United States & Canada. Novus International’s business is to develop and deliver sustainable nutrition and health solutions to its customers in livestock, poultry, and aquaculture production around the world, with the ultimate vision of helping feed the world wholesome affordable food and achieve a higher quality of life. Ed earned his undergraduate degree from the Pan-American Agricultural University in Honduras, and received his graduate education at the University of Vermont. Ed has been in the feed and agricultural industry for two decades, and has a passion for the pivotal role this industry plays in feeding the world.

José Gobbée
Director, GOAGRO

He is the director of GOAGRO, a leading Agribusiness firm in LatAm. He managed and advised over USD 800MM in agrifood investments of main crops and M&A in the region. He has Farmed and advised more than 1 MM hectares of crop production in LatAm. He had among its clients firms like Bunge, Fonterra, hedge funds as Ospraie, farmland funds as Macquarie Agricultural and most of largest Ag Inputs firms. He has been invited to several international conferences, universities and government institutions to discuss forecasts of supply and demand of the grain and oilseeds industry. He is Professor of Strategy at the MBA of Universidad Austral, Senior Associate at CONTEXT and founding member of GPS. He is an Ag Engineer from UCA and holds a Master degree in Ag Economics from Cornell University.

David Hightower
Founding Principal of The Hightower Report

David Hightower is a founding principal of The Hightower Report (www.HightowerReport.com), a commodity research and information firm specializing in high quality futures research and analysis for individual investors, brokers, commercial producers, farmers and end users. The Hightower Report publishes one of the most widely read daily commodity wires in the world and has become a highly utilized industry consulting service with many brokerage firms turning to it for their primary commodity research coverage.

A keen eye on the complex interaction of the world markets insures that Mr. Hightower thoroughly examines the financial, agricultural and geopolitical situations around the globe. This in turn allows his company to provide analysis and commentary on a wide variety of markets, ranging from grains to livestock, precious metals, stock indices, bonds, currencies and the energy complex.

Daniel Hofstad
Director, Cargill Risk Management

Daniel Hofstad is a director with Cargill Risk Management, a leading provider of customized hedging solutions in agricultural commodities.  Mr. Hofstad has an expertise in creating commodity risk management solutions, specifically developing and implementing exchanged-based and OTC hedging instruments.  At Cargill Risk Management, he specializes in grains, oilseeds, softs, and dairy markets, providing solutions to North American customers in the food industry.  He was previously vice president of Black Sea / CIS with INTL FC Stone, focused on providing risk management solutions and guidance to customers in grains and oilseeds in the markets of Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria. Mr. Hofstad earned a MBA from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota and a B.S. degree in agricultural business and economics from Iowa State University.  

Richard A. Jelinek
Vice President Global Education at INTL FCStone Financial

His primary responsibility is the development of price risk management programs and materials on Agricultural Futures, Options and OTC Swaps. 

Richard’s professional tenure includes 34 years at the CBOT and CME Group, where he focused on price risk management training in Europe, Asia, Middle East, Latin America and the United States.  Additionally, he is an Adjunct Professor at Moraine Valley College in the English as a Second Language department.

Mr. Jelinek’s Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from Southern Illinois University and Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Georgia were preceded by a four-year tour in the United States Navy. 



Rob Keller
Director of Feed Grains and Oilseeds, BNSF Railway Company

Rob Keller has been in his current role at BNSF Railway since 2010 where he has commercial responsibility for feed grains and oilseeds, including business development, account management, pricing, strategic planning and forecasting.  Rob joined BNSF predecessor Burlington Northern in 1994 and has served in several marketing and commercial roles during his transportation career.  Rob earned a BS in Agriculture from the University of Nebraska and a MS in Transportation Management from the University of Denver.  BNSF Railway operates one of the largest freight railroad networks in North America, with 32,500 miles of rail across the western two-thirds of the United States.

Dr. Will Kusch
Project Manager, TerViva

Will earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Chemistry, with a minor in Natural Resources Science and Management and completed his doctoral research at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, in the department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, though he is currently ABD. Will's doctoral research was focused on assessing the productivity and suitability of novel cellulosic biomass feedstock production systems for the upper midwest region of the United States. Will is currently managing the establishment of the first commercial pongamia orchard in Hawaii, while also searching for and evaluating additional growth opportunities for TerViva™. For fun, Will delights in savoring spicy food in frigid locations.

Bill Lapp
President and Founder, Advanced Economic Solutions (AES)

Bill Lapp is president and founder of Advanced Economic Solutions. Lapp has over 25 years of experience in analyzing and forecasting economic conditions and commodity markets, and has a wealth of experience in providing comprehensive economic analysis of grain, livestock, and dairy markets. He has been a featured speaker at numerous national forums, including the restaurant industry’s semi-annual Supply Chain Management conference and the USDA Annual Outlook conference. AES is dedicated to providing high quality economic and commodity analysis to agribusiness and food companies. In addition, AES forecasts and analysis for procurement, investment and risk management decisions. Clients include restaurants, food manufacturers, grain merchandisers, livestock producers, investment firms and biofuel-related firms.  

Xingen Lei
Professor of Molecular Nutrition, Cornell University

Xingen Lei received his B.S. and M.S. in China, and Ph.D. from Michigan State University. Since joining the Cornell faculty, he has pioneered developments of a new generation of bacterial phytases, feather-degrading enzymes, defatted microalgal biomass as novel feed proteins, and gene-knockout mouse models to study nutritional genomics of selenium. He has been an active leader in applying new agricultural technologies in the global fight against human micronutrient deficiencies. Dr. Lei has 452 publications and has advised 98 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. His pioneering research contributions have demonstrated clear benefits to animal agriculture and humankind.

Sean McDonald
President, Bitwater Farms

Sean McDonald is building Bitwater Farms to solve a global human problem – sustainable access to protein at a time when we need to grow more, with less – one cricket at a time. The company’s first crop, crickets, consume so little water that Bitwater Farms is growing them in the central California in the middle of a drought putting high quality protein into the supply chain at an industrial scale.The company is transforming insect rearing from small operations to a global industry that is “billions of gallons” more efficient than current solutions. Sean’s past work includes co-founding and leading Sweet Spot, an enterprise social network analysis firm, and working as a creative director for projects with Univision, CocaCola and many global brands. His artwork focused on the beauty of data has toured the world, appearing in galleries through the US, Europe and Asia.

Jim Mikel
Team Lead - International Cargo Ops Specialist, Paxton Van Lines Incorporated

Jim Mikel earned a BA from Siena College, New York and has over a decade of experience in logistics and project management. As the General Cargo International Team Lead, he is responsible for freight forwarding, international shipments, and logistics for clients including US and foreign governments, International security firms, NGOs, humanitarian and relief organizations, as well as commercial customers. Jim is well versed in managing shipments of all sizes and various commodities, Hazmat, ITAR, over sized, temperature sensitive, Project cargo ect.; he maintains a US DOS security clearance and Transportation Security Administration/ITAR/HAZMAT Certifications—49 CFR, IATA, and IMDG.

Deborah Perkins
Managing Director, Rabobank

Ms Perkins joined Rabobank in 2000. She managed the Food & Agribusiness Research teams in Australia and then the Americas for nine years. She was also responsible for undertaking research with a focus on the dairy and animal protein sectors.

In 2009 Deborah moved to Dallas to head up the Corporate Banking office. She is involved in financing large US agribusiness companies, learning about their strategies and providing the necessary financial support to achieve their growth aspirations.

Prior to joining Rabobank Deborah worked for BankWest. She is originally from a wheat and sheep farm in Western Australia and has an Agricultural Science degree from the University of Western Australia and MBA from the Melbourne Business School.

Doug Prohaska
Commodity Risk Manager, INTL FCStone

Doug started managing commodity price risk 42 years ago for the family farm in Iowa. Subsequently became involved in Producer risk management embedding optionality into commercial grain elevator contracts. Currently, he manages commodity price risk for Corn and Soybean Meal ingredient consumptive markets. Doug specializes in corporate commodity risk policies, providing ingredient pricing solutions for setting company budgets, formula grain based pricing and meeting profit margins for national and international customers.


Mark Schuett
CEO and Owner, American Natural Soy

American Natural Processors, LLC was founded in 2000, by Mark Schuett. The Company began by processing organic and non-GMO soybeans without the use of chemicals or preservatives into high quality soybean meal and edible vegetable oil. Since its inception American Natural Processors has grown to be one of the largest organic ingredient processors in the U.S. with processing plants in Hartley, Cherokee, Galva and most recently Sioux City Iowa.  Today the Company processes a wide variety of organic grains and oilseeds including soybeans, canola, flax, hemp, pumpkin, sunflower and rice as well as complete organic livestock feeds. Mark has served on the Iowa Organic Advisory Board and is currently president of the Natural Oilseed Crushers Association.

Kevin Shriver
Chief Procurement Officer, Land O’Lakes, Inc.

Kevin Shriver is the Chief Procurement Officer for Land O’Lakes, responsible for $12 billion in purchases.  Kevin has been focused on two key areas of impact for Sourcing: Predictable Earnings and Strategic Sourcing.  Both of those impact areas require cross-business and cross-functional strategic alignment, which has been personally rewarding to be involved in.  He has also enjoyed being part of the growth of the Purina, Dairy and BuyPoint Merchandising businesses, which achieved 30 million dollars of profit in 2015.

He is committed to helping youth develop to their full potential and, in that spirit, initiated a joint project between Land O’Lakes/Northwest Youth and Family Services called “Improve Your World, Community First!” This three-year initiative joins the two organizations together to help develop a broader engagement and mentor support structure for marginalized kids through athletics and job readiness activities.

Paul Smolen
Principal, Agri Networks Management, LLC

Paul Smolen is an Agribusiness leader with expertise in commodity risk management, marketing strategy, new business development, and industry logistics.  Paul has held executive and senior advisory positions at Bunge, United Soybean Board, and Continental Grain. Paul led market development for enhanced output trait soybean meal and oil for the Bunge Dupont Biotech Alliance, coordinated Bunge’s global food and feed safety and quality programs, and developed animal nutrition expertise. For USB, Paul improved recognition and utilization of soymeal attributes and value capture from grower to feeder, and improved effectiveness and efficiency in marketing programs by developing closer alignment with commercial stakeholders. At Continental Grain, Paul led one of the most profitable trading businesses in terms of capital committed and consistency of performance. Paul holds an MBA from New York University and a B.A. In Economics from Cornell University.

Rick Spellins
Managing Director, Commodity Purchasing, Tyson Foods, Inc.

Rick Spellins is the Managing Director of the Commodity Purchasing Group at Tyson Foods, Inc.  Rick’s career spans 32 years in the poultry industry, managing and purchasing a wide spectrum of feed and food ingredients. In Rick’s current role he oversees three key areas for Tyson.  His energy team manages procurement and financial risk around natural gas, propane, electricity, and diesel.  The food ingredient commodity team procures and hedges edible fats and oils, dairy products and flour.  Rick also oversees the margin management team whose main focus is margin stabilization for poultry and prepared foods segments.  Outside of work Rick lends his time and talents to his church community and the local Catholic elementary school serving on advisory boards and endowment activities.  Rick and his wife Patti have two children, Chris (23) and Andrew (29).  Andrew and his wife Genesis are expecting with Rick’s first grandson!   

Eve Turow Paul
Author & Consultant, ETP Insights, LLC

Eve Turow Paul is a journalist and advisor who studies the wants and needs of young people around the world. She investigates the latest research in psychology, sociology, anthropology, speaks to thought-leaders and interviews people of the Millennial and Gen Z generations to gain a better understanding of their anxieties, hopes and passions. She then looks at how individuals soothe themselves and fulfill many of their needs through food culture, where young people overwhelmingly spend their discretionary incomes.

Eve is the author of A Taste of Generation Yum: How the Millennial Generation's Love for Organic Fare, Celebrity Chefs and Microbrews Will Make or Break the Future of Food. Today, Eve utilizes her years of empirical research to advise Fortune 500 companies, start-ups and independent entrepreneurs on how to connect with and better serve Millennials.

Marcel van Dijk
Marketing Manager, Port of Los Angeles

Marcel van Dijk is the Marketing Manager for the Port of Los Angeles since 2001. Where he is responsible for the business development of the Port and where he maintains relationship with key individuals in the logistic chain as well as beneficial cargo owners.

His focus is on the bulk and break-bulk cargo handling and has responsibility as an account manager for (non-)containerized terminals at the Port of Los Angeles. With his knowledge of the agricultural trade, he is keen to develop the Port as a major gateway for dry and perishable produce.

Prior to joining the Port of Los Angeles, Marcel worked for 15 years in the private sector. His career in the USA started with Honeywell Transportation and Power Systems in 1997.

Matthew Wohlman
Deputy Commissioner, Minnesota Department of Agriculture

Matthew Wohlman was appointed to the position of Deputy Commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture in October 2016. Previously, he served as Assistant Commissioner for nearly six years.

Wohlman’s responsibilities at the MDA include oversight of the Budget and Finance Division, Human Resources and Information Technology at MDA.

Wohlman is an original architect of the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program that today is supported by federal, state, and local government partners.

Wohlman owns and operates a fifth-generation family farming operation based in Renville County. He earned an undergraduate degree in animal science from the University of Minnesota, and a master’s degree in advocacy and political leadership from the University of Minnesota Duluth. Wohlman also worked as the outreach director for Minnesota Congressman, Tim Walz.

Edward Woodford

Mr Woodford is the CEO of Seed SEF, a regulated swap execution facility focused on providing risk mitigation tools for emerging agricultural commodities.  Mr. Woodford previously worked at the Mayfair-based hedge fund Lansdowne Partners in the European Strategies Fund. Mr Woodford also gained experience at Muddy Waters Research, the options trading and research group founded by Carson Block. His role included forensic accounting as well as the quantitative risk analysis of short positions. Mr. Woodford graduated with First Class Honors from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, with a triple major in politics, economics and philosophy. Woodford completed his Master of Finance at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, specializing in agricultural commodities. His thesis (publication forthcoming) focused on the analyzing the impact of the poppy and wheat markets on the stability of Afghanistan.