WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, top executives from the grain and rail industries and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) top food and feed safety official will headline the program at the National Grain and Feed Association’s (NGFA) 116th annual convention, March 18-20 in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.

During the three-day event, industry leaders also will focus on the aftermath of the MF Global Inc. bankruptcy, including initial policy recommendations from the NGFA’s MF Global Task Force on ways enhance protection of customer funds. 

More than 675 industry members and guests have preregistered to attend the convention, which will be conducted at the Charleston Place Hotel.

U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow will keynote the NGFA’s convention on March 19, and is expected to provide an update on the committee’s plans to begin drafting a 2012 farm bill.  NGFA members will be interested particularly in provisions that may reform the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to reduce the idling of productive farmland, as well as reauthorization of the federal crop insurance program. 

Immediately following, the top official at the Union Pacific Railroad, Acting President and Chief Executive Officer Jack Koraleski, will deliver a major address on rail policy issues and efforts to give customers a competitive advantage. 

On March 20, the NGFA’s convention program will be headlined by a keynote industry address by Soren Schroder, president and chief executive officer with Bunge North America Inc., St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. His address will focus on growth and demand in global trade. 

Also headlining the program on March 20 will be Michael Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods, Rockville, Maryland, U.S., who will preview the agency’s proposed regulations expected to be issued soon to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that will affect grain elevators, feed manufacturers, grain processors and exporters. Among other things, the law generally requires facilities registered with FDA under the Bioterrorism Act to analyze hazards “reasonably likely to occur” in their operations and implement preventive controls to minimize the risk of the products they store, handle, manufacture and ship from becoming adulterated or misbranded.

On March 18, the NGFA also will conduct a special workshop to assist industry in complying with the expected requirements under FSMA, featuring presentations by Matt Frederking, director of regulatory affairs and operations at Ralco Nutrition Inc., Marshall, Minnesota, U.S., and NGFA Director of Feed Services David Fairfield, Atlantic, Iowa, U.S.  Two other featured open forums will be conducted on the afternoon of March 18:

  • MF Global Inc. Town Hall Meeting:  A panel will explore the continuing saga and aftermath of the MF Global Inc., bankruptcy and its impact on the industry from three distinct perspectives.  George Angelich, a bankruptcy attorney from the NGFA’s outside law firm of Arent Fox, New York, New York, U.S., will provide an update on the status of the claims process for recovering customer funds tied up in the bankruptcy. Meanwhile, Tim Andriesen, managing director of agricultural commodities and alternative investments at the CME Group, Chicago, Illinois, U.S., will provide an update from the exchange on its activities in the aftermath of the bankruptcy and its review of potential changes that may be needed to better protect customer-segregated funds. Lori O’Flaherty, chief credit officer with CoBank, Denver, Colorado, U.S., will provide a perspective on lenders’ confidence in futures markets, as well as prudent risk management practices for lenders and customers.
  • Rail Open Forum: This session will feature two topics. The impact of increased gas and crude oil production on freight demand for freight rail service will be the topic addressed by Lynn Hiser, vice-president of logistics for Fairmount Minerals, Wedron, Illinois, U.S., and Paul Titterton, vice-president and group executive for fleet management, marketing and government affairs at GATX Corp., Chicago, Illinois, U.S. A second panel will focus on the impacts of the new food/feed safety law on rail car cleanliness, and will feature NGFA Rail Shipper-Receiver Committee Chairman Dan Mack, vice president of transportation and terminal operations at CHS Inc., St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.; and NGFA Director of Feed Services David Fairfield.

Other NGFA convention program topics and speakers on March 19-20 include:

  • An economic outlook for 2012, featuring Terry Barr, director of the Knowledge Exchange Group at CoBank, Denver, Colorado, U.S.
  • A discussion of the burdens imposed on business by federal government overregulation, including examples relevant to the grain, feed and grain processing sectors, by Marc Freedman, director of labor law policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington, D.C., U.S.
  • A management perspective on mitigating safety and health risks for employees in the workplace, featuring Eric Conn, head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) practice at the Washington-based law firm of Epstein Becker Green. Conn will share ideas on what senior managers should consider as part of a robust safety and health program to protect employees, as well as ways to manage regulatory challenges from OSHA.
  • Addresses by NGFA Chairman Hal Reed, chief operating officer for The Andersons, Maumee, Ohio, U.S., and former President Kendell W. Keith, Alexandria, Virginia, U.S.  Keith will provide perspectives from his 31 years with the NGFA’s staff, 25 years of which he served as the association’s president.

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, feed ingredient manufacturers, integrated livestock and poultry operations, and grain processors, millers and exporters. Virtually all NGFA committee meetings are open to all convention registrants. 

The convention also features a golf tournament to benefit the National Grain and Feed Foundation, established in 1965 to pursue research and education initiatives to benefit the grain, feed and grain processing industry. An “Ag Village” trade show also will take place. Complete convention program, registration and hotel information is available at the NGFA’s web site at www.ngfa.org, or by contacting the NGFA at