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Farmer cooperative conference looks at change, challenges and opportunities

The 17th Annual Farmer Cooperative Conference, November 6-7 in Minneapolis, offers an insightful program on issues of interest and concern to farmer-owned cooperatives. This year’s conference will provide a unique opportunity to hear cooperative leaders assess their business environment. The conference theme is “Change. Challenge. Opportunity.”

Farmer-owned cooperatives are faced with new challenges and opportunities every day. The conference will give cooperative leaders the tools needed to navigate challenges ahead. The event will highlight strategic issues such as nonqualified and unallocated equity, managing risk in the global market, assessing the impact of transportation challenges, trends in big data, incorporating sustainability into strategic plans and trends in consumer trust.

Now in its 17th year, this annual national conference brings together top cooperative business leaders and industry experts to share the latest in research, trends and innovative approaches used by agricultural cooperatives. The conference is organized by the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives with assistance from a planning committee of industry and academic experts.

 “Listening to experts weigh in on potential market developments may also provide attendees with the foresight to prepare for adverse or positive market developments,” says planning committee member Keri Jacobs, who holds the Iowa Institute for Cooperative Economics Professorship at Iowa State University. “Seeing how other cooperatives have made adaptations may inspire audience members to try something new at their own co-op.”

 “This is one of few events where academics, service providers, directors and employees of cooperatives have an opportunity to interact in the same forum on this scale,” adds Jacobs, who conducts research on economic issues related to cooperatives, agricultural business, land-use decisions and agricultural policy.

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

“Land O’Lakes appreciates the value the Farmer Cooperatives Conference provides to cooperatives that are continually striving to grow and provide value to their farmer-owners,” says Daryn McBeth, Director, State Affairs & Industry Relations at Land O’Lakes. “Time and time again, the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives delivers a thought-provoking and timely program that addresses challenges farmer-owned cooperatives face in this unpredictable economic environment.”

The two-day conference will be hosted at the Radisson Blu Minneapolis (formerly the Radisson Plaza Hotel).  More information about the conference and registration is available at or by contacting Reynolds at 608-263-4775 or