Business Leaders Build Broader View

Written by NAMA on Thursday, November 17, 2011 , 10:50 am

“My goal is to provoke some thought, stir some ideas and discussion; I think that’s where I can add the most value,” said Jeff Simmons, President of Elanco, in his opening remarks to a joint session of the NAMA 2011 “Trends in Agriculture” conference and the NAFB 68th Annual Convention.

“You are the leaders,” he continued, “This is the issue of the century.”

The session, “Productivity to Feed a Growing Population,” was the culmination of a series of strategic perspectives examining current trends and opportunities in agri-marketing.

“Progress through Productivity” was the theme of this year’s conference, attended by agribusiness leaders from across the country. Like Simmons, several of the presenters challenged attendees to examine their own role in advancing the industry.

“Food security is the threshold question,” said Thomas Dorr, President & CEO, U.S. Grains Council, in a session on the growing demand for exports. “When trade works, the world wins. U.S. farmers win. It’s not a zero-sum game; it grows the pie.”

Experts in alternative fuels examined advances in technology and explored possible pricing pressures that could result from reduced support incentives combined with the growing global demands for grain.

And a panel of producers shared their perspectives on how to increase productivity, whether in the field or in the feedlot … as well as the consequences of increasingly competitive grain availability.

“My focus has been on risk management,” said Terry Jones, who owns and operates Circle J Grain, a grain origination and transportation business with operations in the U.S. and Brazil.

J.D. Alexander, owner of Alexander Cattle & Farms and current President-Elect of the National Cattlemen’s Association, reinforced that approach.

“It takes twice as much capital to run a cattle operation as it used to,” he explained. “That means it increases your risk. Risk management is essential.”

Alexander also underscored the reason these business leaders had gathered to examine strategic issues.

In response to a question about the value of social media, he quipped, “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

View photo’s from the 2011 Trends In Agriculture fall meeting on Flickr. Photo’s courtesy of Chuck Zimmerman, ZimmComm New Media LLC (

View the Trends In Ag presentation by Jeff Simmons, President, Elanco, on YouTube at

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