Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., will keynote the 110th annual convention of the National Grain and Feed Association, scheduled for March 5-7 in Charleston, S.C., USA.
Future farm and agricultural trade policy are expected to be among the topics addressed by Chambliss, a key congressional leader on these and other issues.
During the three-day event, leaders of the nation’s grain, feed and processing industry also will be focusing on rail and waterway transportation, the increasing influence of commodity fund trading on grain and oilseed markets, animal disease-prevention and feed issues, agricultural biotechnology and new developments in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s official grain inspection system.
The NGFA, established in 1896, consists of 900 member companies from all sectors of the grain, feed, processing and exporting business that operate about 6,000 facilities nationwide that handle more than 70 percent of all U.S. grains and oilseeds.
For the fourth consecutive year, the annual meeting of the North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) will be conducted in conjunction with the NGFA convention. NAEGA, established in 1912, is comprised of companies that export virtually all U.S. bulk grains and oilseeds. The NGFA and NAEGA are co-located and have a joint operating and services agreement.
The NGFA convention also will feature headline addresses by:
• Ed Harris, executive vice president of operations from the Canadian National Railway, Homewood, Ill., who will provide a perspective on the condition of the rail industry, including rail infrastructure and capacity challenges affecting agricultural transportation. He’ll also discuss his railroad’s strategy for addressing rail service and fuel surcharge issues.
• Jerry Steiner, president of food traits and executive vice president of commercial acceptance for Monsanto Co., St. Louis, Mo., who will preview the next generation of biotech-enhanced commodities currently in the pipeline, several of which contain traits designed to enhance human health and animal performance. He also has been asked to address efforts to enhance global acceptance of plant- and animal-based biotechnology, as well as whether additional government regulatory oversight is required to minimize the potential for unauthorized biotech commodities to enter food or feed channels.
• Dr. W. Ron DeHaven, administrator of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), who will discuss the nation’s strategies for safeguarding America’s animal agriculture and feed industries from animal disease threats, including avian influenza. DeHaven also is to provide an overview of APHIS’ future strategy for addressing agricultural biotechnology and sanitary and phytosanitary issues to minimize trade disruptions.
• John Phipps, an award-winning columnist with Farm Journal and Top Producer Magazines, and host of the U.S. Farm Report television program.
• NGFA Chairman Steve Nail, president and chief executive officer at Farmers Grain Terminal Inc., Greenville, Miss., who will preview industry challenges and report on accomplishments as he concludes his two-year term.
• Sharon Sydow, former director for agricultural trade policy at the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office, who will provide an insider’s perspective on the status of the World Trade Organization’s Doha Round agricultural trade negotiations and other bilateral trade negotiations currently underway. She currently is vice president, Allen F. Johnson and Associates, Washington, D.C.
In addition, the convention will feature a panel discussion on the growing influence of commodity fund trading on grain markets – one of the hottest topics facing the industry today. Panelists include Kevin Rich, managing partner and director of the commodity asset structuring group at Deutsche Bank, New York, N.Y; Dan Raab, managing director of AIG Financial Products, Wilton, Conn.; and Rob Ellis, Managing Partner, Ridgefield Capital Asset Management LP, Ridgefield, Conn. The panel will be preceded by a discussion of new developments at the Chicago Board of Trade from Bryan Durkin, CBOT’s executive vice president and chief operation officer.
The NGFA convention also will feature two concurrent open forum sessions on the afternoon of March 5:
• A Rail Open Forum will probe rail capacity, rail service and rail fuel surcharge challenges confronting shippers and receivers of grain, feed and grain products. Douglas Buttrey, chairman of the federal Surface Transportation Board, Washington, D.C., will provide his perspective on rail policy issues, while Kevin Kaufman, vice president of the Agricultural Group for the BNSF Railway, Fort Worth, Texas, will discuss his railroad’s changes to a more cost-based fuel surcharge formula. Meanwhile, Anthony Hatch, a New York City-based independent transportation analyst and consultant, will provide an analysis of rail capacity constraints, carrier profitability and growth projections for the nation’s rail carriers, and what those trends may mean for agricultural shippers.
• A Grain/Feed Forum will examine key agricultural biotechnology regulatory issues, as well as the future of USDA’s official grain inspection system. Featured panelists are Sean Darragh, executive vice president for food and agriculture at the Biotechnology Industry Organization; and David Shipman, deputy administrator of USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, both of Washington, D.C.
Another special open forum – focusing on International Grain Trade Issues and the vision of USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) – is slated for the afternoon of March 7. Featured speaker is FAS Administrator W. Kirk Miller, who will preview the Bush administration’s plans to fundamentally restructure FAS’s operations, including its foreign offices; an update on Iraq wheat trade developments; planned policy changes governing the U.S. approach to sanitary and phytosanitary regulation to facilitate trade; the impact of federal budget constraints on USDA’s international trade programs; and an update on the World Trade Organization’s Doha Round negotiations.
The NGFA’s convention also will feature working sessions of most of the association’s 17 committees addressing the most pressing issues facing grain elevators, commercial feed mills, integrated livestock and poultry operations, and grain processors and millers. Most NGFA committee meetings are open to all convention registrants.
The convention also features a golf tournament to benefit the National Grain and Feed Foundation, as well as an “Ag Village” trade show. The convention registration fee is $525 per person for NGFA members, and $710 for nonmembers. Complete convention program and registration information is available on the NGFA’s web site at www.ngfa.org
The NGFA is a non-profit trade association whose membership encompasses all sectors of the industry, including country, terminal and export elevators; feed mills; cash grain and feed merchants; end users of grain and grain products, including processors, flour millers, and livestock and poultry integrators; commodity futures brokers and commission merchants; and allied industries, such as railroads, barge lines, banks, grain exchanges, insurance companies, computer software firms, and engineering and design/construct companies. The NGFA also consists of 35 affiliated state and regional U.S. grain and feed associations, as well as two international affiliated associations. The NGFA also has strategic alliances with the Grain Elevator and Processing Society, and the Pet Food Institute (PFI).