SPEAKERS

Paul Rice

Paul Rice is the Founder & CEO of Fair Trade USA, the leading certifier of Fair Trade products in North America.

Since launching the Fair Trade Certified™ label in 1998, Paul has helped establish Fair Trade as one of the fastest-growing segments of the food and apparel industries. To date, Fair Trade USA has partnered with over 1,400 leading companies, including Green Mountain, Nespresso, Whole Foods, Costco, Sam's Club, Walmart, Kroger, Chobani and Target. Fair Trade USA now certifies coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, coconut, fresh produce, dairy and fish. Recently, through groundbreaking partnerships with Patagonia, Athleta, Williams-Sonoma and J. Crew, Fair Trade has begun certifying apparel and home goods, improving the lives of factory workers.

In 2021 consumer recognition of the Fair Trade Certified label hit 66%. To date, Fair Trade USA and its partners have generated $966 million in additional income for farmers and workers in 62 countries, allowing them to care for the environment and steadily improve their livelihoods.

Prior to founding Fair Trade USA, Paul worked for 11 years as a rural development specialist in the mountains of Nicaragua, where he founded and led the country's first Fair Trade, organic export cooperative. Paul's rich, first-hand experience over the last 30 years in the fields of sustainable agriculture, agroforestry, grassroots economic development, global supply chain transparency and consumer activation is unique in the certification world. He is now a leading advocate of “impact sourcing” as a core strategy for both poverty alleviation and sustainable business.

 

Paul has been named Ethical Corporation’s 2019 Business Leader of the Year and is a four-time winner of Fast Company magazine’s Social Capitalist of the Year. Paul is also the recipient of the prestigious Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship and has spoken at the World Economic Forum, Clinton Global Initiative, Skoll World Forum, TEDx and numerous universities and conferences around the world.

Ted Matthews

Ted Mathews is a mental health practitioner with more than 30 years of experience in counseling in rural areas. His focus has been farmer mental health support.

Matthews also has extensive counseling experience in the areas of PTSD, crisis intervention, family issues, suicidology and domestic abuse.  Featured on the Huffington Post, MPRNews, CNN, NPR, and in countless agriculture publications, Ted offers his expertise to help the general population to better understand farming culture.

Randy Roecker

Randy Roecker is a 3rd generation dairy farmer from Wisconsin.  After overcoming  depression himself he now is an advocate for farmer mental health. He is a founder of the Farmer Angel Network. This group builds strong rural communities that support agriculture by providing education, resources, and fellowship with a focus on mental health. 

Alex Peterson

Alex Peterson is the chair of the National Dairy Research and Promotion Board, which is part of Dairy Management Inc., and a dairy farmer in Trenton, Missouri. 

The Peterson Dairy has operated for more than 50 years. Alex farms with his parents, Brian and Barb, and his brother, Opie. They rotate crops and pastures to husband the land by replenishing nutrients and preventing erosion. This second-generation farm will soon become a third-generation farm when the brothers take over the family business. 

Alex leads the dairy’s herd-health, breeding and calf-rearing programs and cares for newborn calves. He also helps with the farm’s finances and overall management, both of which leverage his experience in college and politics. He earned a degree in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri.

In addition to the dairy, Alex has served as a high school coach, sports referee, youth pastor, school board representative and in various leadership roles for ag advocacy groups.

William Loux

William provides strategic analysis and insight into the global dairy market through monitoring and forecasting short- and long-term trends in supply, demand, pricing, international trade, and the broader economy. 

Ever since growing up farming corn and soybeans in rural Iowa, William has remained close to his agricultural roots. Prior to joining the U.S. Dairy Export Council, William was the Government Affairs Manager for the International Dairy Foods Association in Washington, D.C. He earned a master’s degree from London School of Economics.

Tanner Ehmke

Tanner Ehmke is a Lead Economist at CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange research team that provides market and industry outlooks on sectors affecting the rural economy, including grains, oilseeds, biofuels and farm supply; animal protein; dairy production and processing; specialty crops; and power, energy and water. Tanner’s research focus is specialty crops and dairy. Prior to joining CoBank in 2015, Tanner farmed and marketed seed for his family’s seed company in western Kansas where his family homesteaded in 1885. He previously was a commodities analyst at AgResource Company in Chicago, a markets reporter for Dow Jones at the Chicago Board of Trade, and an agricultural journalist covering crop production and farm business management. Tanner holds a bachelor’s in Agricultural Economics and a master’s in Agricultural Business, both from Kansas State University. 

Dennis Hancock

Dr. Dennis Hancock is the Center Director for the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center (USDFRC) in Madison, WI. The USDFRC is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and other land grant universities. Researchers at the USDFRC focus on problems that are national in scope and that limit effective and efficient use of forage for milk production. It coordinates multidisciplinary efforts involving engineers, microbiologists, chemists, and soil, plant, and animal scientists. The research is directed toward increasing yields and quality of forage grown and harvested; reducing losses associated with harvesting, storage and feeding; and maximizing use of forage nutrients by the dairy cow for milk production.

Prior to becoming the Center Director at the USDFRC, Dr. Hancock:

• Grew up on a 100-acre cow-calf operation in Western Kentucky, where his father also ran a gravel, lime, and fertilizer spreading business.

• Earned a BS in Agriculture in 1996 from Berea College

• Earned an MS in Plant and Soil Sciences in 1999 at the Univ. of Kentucky.

• After a 2 ½ year stint as a County Extension Agent in northern Kentucky (Grant Co.), he returned to UK to work on his Ph.D. part-time while he worked full time as the Research and Extension Coordinator for the Univ. of Kentucky’s Precision Agriculture Team

• Completed a Ph.D. in Crop Science in 2006.

• Served as a Professor in the Crop and Soil Sciences Department at the University of Georgia and served as the State Forage Extension Specialist from 2006-2020.
 

Mike North

Mike grew up on his family's dairy farm in southeastern Wisconsin. His lifelong interest in agriculture production led him to the University of Wisconsin - Platteville, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Agribusiness with a minor in Dairy Science. While still a student, Mike served a one-year term as a Wisconsin State FFA Officer.

Mike began his work in the futures industry in 1995 as an intern with a local brokerage company researching the technical and fundamental dynamics of commodity market history and current price trends. As the company grew, Mike's responsibilities grew as well.  His team was often recognized around the country as one of the pioneers of market responsive option hedging programs and were invited by groups across the country to share their knowledge.

After nearly two decades in the business, Mike founded Commodity Risk Management Group (CRMG) in 2014.  In 2019, CRMG merged with Rice Dairy to form Ever.ag, a company that has recently merged with Dairy.com.  The growing company provides a suite of marketing and risk management services for producer, processor, and end user clients across its brokerage, insurance, advisory, and technology platforms while producing high-level unbiased research and education to help those clients make better decisions.  

Education has always been one of Mike’s passions as he travels teaching producers and businessmen about the tools available for price protection and risk management. Mike has been published in several agricultural periodicals, is a regular guest on several national programs such as AgDay, RFDTV, and the U.S. Farm Report, can be heard frequently on several local and national radio programs, served as a part time lecturer at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville and is a featured speaker at programs across the country.

For over a decade, Mike served on the board of directors of the Dairy Business Association (DBA), an organization which represents the dairy industry and its economic and environmental stake in Wisconsin, including a term as their president.  Mike has been honored as the 2006 Rising Star in Business for the IA, IL, & WI Tri-State Region and in 2011 as the recipient of the UW-Platteville Outstanding Alumni Award.  Mike and his wife Jennifer have four daughters and are actively involved in showing animals, the leadership of their homeschool community and church as well as several community initiatives. Mike is an avid sportsman who enjoys hunting, fishing, biking and skiing.

Amy Wagner

Amy Wagner leads the international partnerships within Dairy Management Inc.’s Global Innovation Partnerships (GIP) team, a unique consulting capability within the dairy checkoff. The GIP team collaborates with organizations in foodservice, consumer packaged goods, and throughout the dairy supply chain to drive innovation and advance key dairy industry consumer confidence initiatives. The GIP team is comprised of cross-functional members who bring critical expertise including marketing, innovation, research and insights, R&D, nutrition science, communications, and sustainability.

Amy joined DMI in 2015, bringing more than 25 years of broad marketing experience in retail and consumer products. Most recently, she was at Walgreens where she led marketing for the Consumables and Seasonal Division. Before joining Walgreens, Amy spent more than 20 years at Kraft Foods in a variety of senior-level positions in brand management, strategy and integrated communications.

Gene Marks

A past columnist for both The New York Times and The Washington Post, Gene now writes regularly for The Hill, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine and The Guardian.
 
Gene has written 5 books on business management, specifically geared towards small and medium sized companies. His most recent is Want More Cash?: 100+ Ideas And Strategies For Increasing Your Company's Cash Flow This Year.
 
Nationally, Gene appears regularly on Fox Business, MSNBC, as well as CBS Eye on the World with John Batchelor and SiriusXM's Wharton Business Channel where he talks about the financial, economic and technology issues that affect business leaders today.
 
Through his keynotes and breakout sessions, Gene helps business owners, executives and managers understand the political, economic and technological trends that will affect their companies and—most importantly—the actions they can take to continue to grow and profit.
 
Gene owns and operates the Marks Group PC, a highly successful ten-person firm that provides technology and consulting services to small and medium sized businesses.
 
Prior to starting the Marks Group PC Gene, a Certified Public Accountant, spent nine years in the entrepreneurial services arm of the international consulting firm KPMG in Philadelphia where he was a Senior Manager.

Ryan Junio

Ryan Junio owns and operates Four J Jerseys in Pixley, California along with his family. Four J Farms is home to over 11,000 registered Jerseys and they milk 4,200 cows and farm 1,600 acres that include alfalfa, corn, wheat and almonds.  

Junio is continuing the legacy that was established by his great-grandfather, who began farming in the San Joaquin Valley in the 1920s. Cows first came to the farm in 1996 as a means of better utilizing their crops. The Junio’s figured they would be more profitable feeding cows and marketing milk than independently marketing crops. The Jersey breed was chosen to capitalize on component pricing opportunities from Hilmar Cheese.

To increase efficiency, this past summer the Junio’s built a 2,000-cow free stall barn that has allowed them to consolidate their two milking herds into and get all their cows out of open lot corrals and into free stalls. 

The expansion also allows their 72-stall DeLaval rotary parlor that was built in 2015 to work at max efficiency. The consolidation has brought on expansion plans of their methane digester as well so they can capture and capitalize on the methane coming off the additional 2,000-cow barn, as well as better use labor on one site versus two. 

Genomic testing has been a key tool in helping Junio reach his goals as a breeder. Through genomic testing, Junio has been able to identify his elite family lines and sell high genomic animals that have topped national sales in recent years. Four J Farms also has more than 125 Jerseys ranked among the top 1.5% for GJPI. Genomic testing has also allowed Junio to rank his herd and separate his top-end from his bottom. 

After years of exclusively using sexed semen in his breeding program to expand internally and to routinely sell fresh cows, Junio found himself with a surplus of heifers. Five years ago, to slow the growth of his heifer program and to create a new revenue source, Junio began using beef semen and making cross calves on a portion of his milking herd. 

Currently, Ryan can maintain herd size using just the top 10% of his milking herd as well as his youngstock to produce replacements by way of sexed semen AI breeding as well embryo transfers from donors within his own herd. The other 90% of his milking herd are recipients of purebred Angus embryos that he sells as day-olds. The current reproduction protocol will result in 250+ Angus calves per month hitting the ground.  

In 2017 Junio received the California Young Jersey Breeder Award. Two years later he received the Young Jersey Breeder Award by the American Jersey Cattle Association. 

Junio and his wife, Michelle, have one son, Rhett.

Kimberly Herinckx 

Kimberly Herinckx is Vice President of Food Safety and Quality for One World Beef, LLC.   One World Beef operates a large-scale toll processing beef slaughter and fabrication facility located in the Imperial Valley of California.  The facility specializes in grain fed Holsteins, Wagyu, and Beef/Dairy cross cattle.
The business is based on value added attributes to each animal from Organic to Natural and NHTC.

Kimberly has worked in the meat industry for 28 years with roles in Quality, Food Safety, Auditing, and Livestock Program Development.  She has the unique experience of growing up on a purebred cow/calf operation and showed registered cattle thru 4H and FFA on the local, state, and national level.  Kimberly received her BS from Oregon State University with a Beef Production Option and Meat Regulation Specialty.

She has influenced the industry as a member and officer for: the National Hereford Women’s Board of directors, Fair boards and FFA advisory boards.  Herinckx is currently a member of the North American Meat Institute Animal Welfare Committee and is a certified PAACO auditor for both Beef Feedlots and Meat Plants.

Amanda Arata

General Manager of Kansas Dairy Development in Deerfield, Kansas overseeing 65,000 dairy calves and heifers including a 20,000 head calf ranch raising dairy heifers and terminal cross beef calves. Amanda has an extensive background in corporate business as well as production agriculture and includes developing an exceptional culture for employees to care for high performing dairy and cross calves as her highest achievements.