Lettuce, turkeys and a logger share a lot in common when they convene together to discuss the successes and challenges each face as leaders in their industries. These stories and several others were shared at the eighth annual Ag and Animal Science Conference (AASC) at the MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar, Minn.
Agriculture and animal science stakeholders across the Midwest heard a collective narrative on the economics of agriculture, what various companies are doing to face today’s agricultural challenges and sharing the story of modern agriculture in a manner that evokes positive change in outside opinions toward agriculture.
The day kicked off with Tony DeLisi from Avalanche Consulting presenting on “Regional Collaboration in Agriculture and Animal Science.” DeLisi discussed the current economics of agriculture and explained how the industry has a greater impact when various groups join forces in collaboration and education as seen in the KC Animal Health Corridor.
This year’s theme was storytelling and was filled with various storytellers sharing their company’s history, expansions and where they’re heading into the future. Those who presented include: Natasha Mortenson, Community Relations from Riverview LLP, Kevin Ortenblad, Founder with Lettuce Abound, Kevin Lynch, VP of Operations at Aviagen, and MTGA farmer member Erica Sawatzke, Owner at Oakdale Farm.
Mortenson shared the dairy perspective of increasing Riverview’s size while respecting their company mission of teamwork and building personal strengths of their employees. Ortenblad and his family grow aeroponic lettuce that is sold for a premium and discussed the challenges of breaking into the competitive food market. Lynch explained the history of growing and merging companies to create Select Genetics (Aviagen) and some future goals as they continue to be a leader in turkey breeding. Sawatzke shared her family farm’s history, their daily operations and the challenges farming brings each day.
After lunch, a panel discussed “Perspectives on the Value & Impact of Agriculture.” MTGA’s own Lara Durben and farmer member Loren Brey were two of the panelists. A few questions brought to the panel revolved around social media, challenges each faces in their careers and how to be impactful withagricultural messaging.
The day concluded with keynote speaker Bruce Vincent President of Environomics who paralleled the challenges faced by the logging industry to agriculture’s modern issues and how the timber industry learned to work with a concerned public through impactful legislation and messaging. Secondly, Vincent shared how activism matters in business. Getting involved locally and starting a ripple of change is the best way to make a lasting difference.
AASC is an annual conference held at the Minnwest Technology Campus in Willmar, Minn. The event aims to bring the region’s top agriculture and animal science stakeholders to convene to discuss some of the industry’s most pressing issues. Registration is complimentary for qualifying ag professionals. For information on the 2019 AASC, visit http://www.mnwesttechnology.com/asc/.