84th NRA Annual Convention

October 23-27, 2017 · The Ritz-Carlton Bacara · Santa Barbara, California

Michael Swanson

Keynote Speaker • Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Michael Swanson, Ph.D., Wells Fargo’s Chief Agricultural Economist, forecasts key agricultural commodities such as cattle, dairy and hogs, along with wheat, soybeans, corn, and cotton. He also has extensive experience analyzing the impact of energy on agriculture. Michael develops develop credit and risk strategies for agricultural companies, and performs macroeconomic and international analysis on agricultural production and agribusiness. He is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Michael joined Wells Fargo in 2000 as a senior economist. Before that, he worked for Land O’ Lakes and supervised a portion of the supply chain for dairy products, including scheduling the production, warehousing, and distribution, and also supervised sales forecasting. Michael also worked for Cargill’s Colombian subsidiary, Cargill Cafetera de Manizales S.A., with responsibility for grain imports and value-added sales to feed producers and flour millers. He started his career as a transportation analyst with Burlington Northern Railway.

Michael received undergraduate degrees in economics and business administration from the University of St. Thomas, and both his master’s and doctorate degrees in agricultural and applied economics from the University of Minnesota. He will be presenting “Agricultural and Food Trends Driving the Protein and Rendering Markets."

Damian Mason

Luncheon Speaker • Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Damian Mason is an entrepreneur, farm owner, writer, and speaker. His on stage career began in 1994 when he resigned from corporate American to become a professional Bill Clinton impersonator. Times change and so do presidents. Damian transformed from political humor by creating his next opportunity. Today, he delivers insights and information, in a very entertaining manner, on the two subjects he knows best — agriculture and business.

Damian was raised on a dairy farm in Indiana and has a lifetime of agricultural experience. He holds a degree in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University and also studied comedy writing and improvisation at The Second City in Chicago. He is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the National Speakers Association. When he’s not traveling for work, Damian can be found on his Indiana farm with his wife Lori, or escaping from winter at their Arizona residence. Damian will present “ReInvention for Rendering” during our Welcome Luncheon on Wednesday.

Randy Blach

Industry Issues Forum, Friday, October 27, 2017

Randy Blach is CEO of CattleFax, an organization focused on helping member cattle producers make more profitable marketing and management decisions. CattleFax is the cattle and beef industry leader on timely market information, analyses and research.

Randy came to CattleFax in 1981 and served as director of market analysis for 15 years, accepting his current role in 2001. During this time, he has been a keynote speaker at hundreds of cattle and beef industry conventions, meetings and seminars.

A Colorado native, Randy and his family remain actively involved in cattle ranching with cow/calf, stocker and finished cattle. He was raised on his family’s ranch in Yuma, Colorado, and graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in animal science. He received the Honor Alumni award from its College of Agricultural Sciences in 2004 and the Livestock Leader Award in 2011.

Ken Gronbach

Industry Issues Forum, Friday, October 27, 2017

Ken Gronbach is a futurist, generational marketing expert and demographer. He serves as president of KGC Direct, LLC. Ken is able to forecast societal, commercial, economic, cultural and political change with uncanny accuracy. His marketing experience and common sense demography, based on twenty years of proprietary study, have led him to speak about people and populations that drive opportunities in the world we live in today and tomorrow. When Ken talks about his world of counting people, he explains how the workforce will change, which countries and industries demographically positioned to excel, the future of communications and other trend-setting issues.

Ken founded and managed KGA Advertising, INC., an advertising agency, before becoming a speaker and author. His fourth book, Upside: Profiting from Profound Demographic Shifts Ahead, was published earlier this year.

Ken graduated from California State University at Long Beach. He lives in Connecticut where he and his family enjoy boating and fishing on Long Island Sound. Ken’s hobbies include building hot rod Mustangs and Porsches. He will be speaking about “Charting the Course through Demographic Change.”

Steve Howell

Biofuels Committee Meeting, Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Steve Howell is president and founder of M4 Consulting, a firm that develops industrial products from agriculture. He has been instrumental in technical development of the U.S. biodiesel industry since its inception in the early 1990s. Steve chairs the ASTM Biodiesel Task Force and is Senior Technical Advisor to the National Biodiesel Board.

During his career, Steve has answered technical questions and quantified biodiesel benefits through work with vehicle and engine manufacturers, petroleum refiners and distributors, biodiesel companies, feedstock producers, and leading research and scientific institutions. He also earned lifetime achievement awards from the American Oil Chemists Society and ASTM International. An Iowa native, he graduated from Iowa State University.

Steve dedicates his work to developing innovative industrial products from agriculture that support family farms and a cleaner environment so his children and grandchildren can enjoy the same quality of life we do today. He will speak about opportunities and constraints for growth in the biodiesel industry at the NRA Biofuels Committee meeting.

“Speakers were well organized and topics were interesting”

NRA Member