Looking Through a Wide Lens

Inaugural MU Agribusiness and Policy Symposium to look at array of issues facing farmers, agribusiness community members

Given the current economic climate for Missouri farmers and agribusiness members, it was not hard for the organizers of the inaugural University of Missouri Agribusiness and Policy Symposium to come up with a theme: “Strategic Thinking in Uncertain Times.”

This past spring, Joe Parcell, professor and department chair of the department of agricultural and applied economics, and Scott Brown, an assistant extension professor within the department, had the idea to create a symposium that would represent the complex tapestry of issues that attendees now face. The result of that collaboration will take place from Sept. 6-7 at the Courtyard by Marriott Conference Center in Columbia.

Strategic Thinking In Certain Times: MU Agribusiness and Policy Symposium, Where: Courtyard by Marriott, 3301 LeMone Industrial Blvd., Columbia; When: Sept. 6-7; Registration: $175 (includes all costs, except hotel room); Questions: Call the MU Conference Office at (573) 882-2429 or send an e-mail to Muconf5@missouri.edu; Graphic by Nate ComptonGraphic by Nate Compton

“This program is intended to be a little bit more of a potpourri of different topics,” Parcell said. “We think that if you’re in the farm business — or agribusiness or in government — that these are the things you need to be aware of and on top of as we go forward in agriculture.”

The speakers at the symposium — who will come from MU and from other universities and agencies — will talk about their most recent research and provide insight on topics ranging from volatility in commodity prices; global trends and issues in agribusiness; the welfare and economic mobility of immigrants and the changing nature of policies, consumer wants, weather patterns and value chains.

One lecture, in particular, by Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes, MSMC Endowed Professor of Agribusiness Strategy, will delve into what agriculture could look like in the year 2025.

Scott Brown, assistant extension professor, presents information at a field day at the Thompson Research Center. Photo by Kyle Spradley.Scott Brown, assistant extension professor, presents information at a Field Day at the Thompson Research Center. Photo by Kyle Spradley.

“What are the things we have to start thinking about over the next five to seven years in operation?” Parcell added. “That’s the main thing. To really get folks to start thinking about what we’re going to look like.”

Parcell said the symposium represents an expansion of the long-running Breimyer Seminar devoted to agricultural policy. The seminar is named after Harold Breimyer, a longtime MU agricultural economics professor. He established an endowment to fund an annual seminar devoted to agricultural policy before his death in 2001.

“He had a lifetime of really building agriculture policy in this country,” Parcell said of Breimyer. “He had an amazing following that still stands out to this day.”

The Breimyer Seminar usually consisted of a half a day or three-fourths of a day and four to five speakers. The symposium will take place for a day-and-a-half and will feature main presentations from seven speakers.

That list includes:

  • Richard Fordyce, the director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, talking about “The Current State of Play in Missouri Agriculture in Missouri Agriculture”
  • Mike Boland, professor at the University of Minnesota and director of the university’s Food Industry Center, talking about “Global Trends and Issues Affecting Agribusiness Retailers: What Does This Mean for Farmers, Ranchers and Producers?”
  • Joseph Glauber, a senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, D.C., talking about “Whither Multilateralism?” as the Ruby Green Endowment Lecture.
  • Randy Westgren, MU professor and McQuinn Chair of Entrepreneurial Leadership, talking about “Bullwhips and Branding: Managing Risks and Returns in the Beef Supply Chain.”
Richard FordyceRichard Fordyce, director of Missouri Dept. of Agriculture

The schedule of events on Tuesday, Sept. 6, will begin at 10:30 a.m. with opening remarks from CAFNR Dean Tom Payne, followed by Fordyce’s presentation at 10:50 a.m. The day will conclude at 6:30 p.m., following a dinner at 5:45 p.m., with Westgren’s lecture.

On Wednesday, Sept. 7, attendees will take part in six rapid fire sessions. Starting at 8:35 a.m., the first three sessions will address the environment; the last three, outlook and impacts.

Although previous Breimyer Seminars took place in the spring or summer, it was important to have the event in the fall, Parcell said.

“Sometimes whether it’s livestock markets or going into harvest with crops, it’s a good time not just for farmers but for agribusinesses to be setting the stage for the end of the year and into the next year.”

The registration fee is $175, which includes sessions and lunch for both days, a dinner on the evening of Sept. 6, and breaks. A block of rooms for the symposium has been reserved at the hotel at a discounted rate, but they are only guaranteed until Aug. 19.

For questions regarding registration, please call (573) 882-2429 or send an email to muconf5@missouri.edu. For more information and a complete event agenda, visit http://muconf.missouri.edu/agribusinessandpolicy/.