Farmer Cooperatives Conference focuses on policy issues, management and trends in consolidation

Contact: Megan Webster, 608-890-1048,

The 20th Annual Farmer Cooperatives Conference will bring together agricultural cooperative leadership and industry experts from across the country to examine strategic issues impacting farmer-owned cooperatives. The conference will be held November 1-3 at the Intercontinental Riverfront in downtown St. Paul, MN.

The Farmer Cooperatives Conference gives cooperative leaders the tools needed to navigate challenges ahead. Over two days, agricultural cooperative leaders and industry experts will address strategic issues such as the 2018 Farm Bill, the agricultural trade outlook, cybersecurity and cooperative responses to consolidation in agricultural supply chains.

This year’s program will open with a full morning dedicated to policy issues impacting farmer-owned cooperatives. Chuck Conner, CEO & president of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives will kick off the morning with a presentation highlighting policy trends and challenges. Dr. Joe Outlaw, professor and extension economist from Texas A&M University will lead the group through his farmer-centric analysis of the upcoming Farm Bill. Governmental affairs leaders will address policy issues both directly and indirectly impacting agriculture such as trade policy, regulatory environment, tax reform and other current issues.

Marlis Carson, a member of the Farmer Cooperatives Conference planning committee, notes, “This year’s program addresses the policy environment, the trend of consolidations and merger, and challenges in governance. Listening to experts and co-op peers weigh in on these issues may also provide attendees with the foresight to prepare for these changes. Seeing how other cooperatives have made adaptations may inspire audience members to try something new at their own co-op.” Ms. Carson serves as Sr. Vice President, Legal Tax and Accounting and General Counsel at the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, which represents 2,500 local farmer cooperatives across the country. ““The interaction between managers, directors, academics and other industry professions is truly unique” she adds.

Support for the program comes from CoBank, AgriBank, CHS, GROWMARK, Land O’Lakes, Stoel Rives, Dorsey & Whitney, Farm Foundation, NCFC Education Foundation, CliftonLarsonAllen, Gardiner Thomsen, and the Ralph K. Morris Foundation.

Farm Foundation has supported the Farmer Cooperatives Conference since its inception 20 years ago. “Cooperatives have been a key focus of Farm Foundation’s work since we began serving agriculture and rural America in 1933,” notes Farm Foundation President Constance Cullman. “Business conditions have changed, but the need is still great for informed and capable leadership in cooperatives, as well as the industries and communities they serve. This conference is an important tool to support cooperative leaders.”

The two-day conference will be hosted at the Intercontinental Riverfront in St. Paul, MN. More information about the conference and registration is available at or by contacting Anne Reynolds at 608-263-4775 or

Established in 1962, the UW Center for Cooperatives focuses on education, research and outreach on all aspects of the cooperative business model, including development, finance, structure and governance.  The Center’s interdisciplinary programs build on the resources of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Wisconsin Extension, and are implemented through partnerships with UW faculty, staff and extension agents, federal and state agencies, state cooperative councils, cooperative business groups, and others. For more information, please visit


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