K-State offers professional development conference

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The agricultural industry has come off a period of sustained profitability, and history has shown that periods of high profitability don’t continue indefinitely. High prices often cure high prices. The Kansas State University Master of Agribusiness (MAB) program is hosting Agribusiness: What Could Go Wrong, an event to interact with experts in the agribusiness industry regarding potential black swans on the horizon.

The MAB Professional Development Conference will be August 8 and 9 at Cargill’s Headquarters in Wayzata, Minn. The agenda includes key topics addressed from different perspectives: food pricing and risk, decision making uncertainty, productivity, and the potential for expansion of arable land.

“We are pleased to put together a program that addresses some issues that agribusinesses may face in the future. Given the outstanding performance of the sector, there is always an opportunity for complacency to be built into decision making. Attendees will be able interact with industry experts along with each other,” said Dr. Allen Featherstone, Professor of Agricultural Economics and Director of the Master of Agribusiness program at K-State.

To open the event on the afternoon of Thursday, August 8, Terry Garvert, Corn and Customer Risk Manager, Cargill, will provide a short overview of the agriculture industry; he will be followed by Emery Koenig, Executive Vice President and Chief Risk Officer, Cargill, who will discuss food pricing and risk; Dr. Featherstone will give a synopsis of factors to consider in the agriculture industry; and Dr. Bryan Schurle, Professor at Kansas State University will end the day with a discussion on how decisions are made in a risky environment.

The program will continue on Friday with a session by Bill Even, Global Lead for Industry Relations, DuPont Pioneer talking about improving crop yields and technology; followed by a series of perspectives regarding global implications with perspectives on land availability and technology adoption from Constanza Valdes, Markets and Trade Economics Division, Economic Research Service, USDA on the MERCOSUR Region, Pavel Sorokin, Professor, Russian State Agrarian University on Russia and the Former Soviet Union, and Vincent Amanor-Boadu, Professor, Kansas State University, on Sub-Saharan Africa.

In addition to providing professional development and continuing education, there will be plenty of opportunity for networking with agribusiness colleagues at the event. Wendell Hockens, MAB Graduate from the Class of 2001, is looking forward to gaining a greater understanding of these complex issues while networking.

“Business professionals attending the upcoming MAB Professional Development Conference will learn about topics affecting the food and agriculture industry in a setting that promotes ‘thinking out of the box’, a free exchange of ideas and learning about trends that may have escaped attention in your day-to-day activities. You will also have the opportunity to renew friendships and make new acquaintances by networking with the other professionals attending the conference,” Hockens said.

The event is open to agribusiness professionals interested in learning more about the current global agriculture industry. Registration fee for the conference is $175 until July 19 ($225 after July 19) and includes meals and materials. Interested individuals can register online at http://www.mab.ksu.edu/ or contact Mary Bowen (mjbowen@ksu.edu, 785-532-4435) for more information.

K-State’s Master of Agribusiness is an award-winning, distance-education degree program that focuses on food and agribusiness management. Students and alumni work in every sector of the food and agribusiness industry and are located in 40 states within the United States and in more than 30 countries.

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