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California Agricultural Technology Institute

Leading economists to address 31st Annual Agribusiness Management Conference

31st Annual Agribusiness Management ConferenceTop economists will join with academic and business experts to discuss the economic outlook, global trade, California water quality, federal farm policy and other key issues at the 31st Annual Agribusiness Management Conference to be held Nov. 7 in Fresno.

Sponsored by Fresno State’s Center for Agricultural Business (CAB) and Bank of America, the event will occur in partnership with more than 20 supporting farm businesses, agencies and organizations. It will be held at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center downtown.

“California’s agricultural industry faces unique challenges,” noted Mechel Paggi, CAB director and conference chair. For example, some sectors are doing well while others are struggling with high input costs and sticky prices.

“Our markets are subject to the trends of the general economy, and increasingly, the global economy as well,” Paggi said. “The conference will feature expert speakers who will address these issues, and participants will be provided with supporting information and outlooks on specific commodities.”

Opening the half-day event with an 8:15 a.m. address will be Corny Gallagher, senior vice president and food, ag and wine executive for Global Commercial Banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Gallagher’s team coordinates the bank’s agribusiness and food products portfolio, with a strong emphasis on global marketing. Gallagher will share his views on the drivers for the future of California agribusiness in a talk entitled “Developing a Shared Vision to Feed the People of the World.”

At 8:45 a.m. Terry Barr, chief economist for CoBank, a national cooperative bank that is part of the farm credit system, will offer insights on upcoming economic challenges and opportunities in an address titled “Economic Outlook: Traversing the Minefield.”

Adding to the economic outlook will be Charles Grimes, director of global export trade services for Citibank. Grimes will present “A View on Agriculture Trade: Challenges & Opportunities.”

Following a break, a panel will address water quality issues in a discussion of “Nitrates in Central Valley Groundwater: Findings, Actions, Questions.” Panelists include Stuart Pettygrove, Ph.D., soils specialist for the UC Cooperative Extension; Parry Klassen, executive director of the East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition; and Joel Nelsen, president and CEO of California Citrus Mutual.

Wrapping up the morning sessions will be a discussion of farm policy and the 2012 Farm Bill featuring experts from both government and industry. Offering an industry perspective will be Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for United Fresh Produce Association. Following Guenther, Anne MacMillan, senior advisor to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will provide “A Washington Perspective.”

To conclude the event, division executive director Greg Calistro of Save Mart Supermarkets will offer insights gained through regular interaction with the end users of nearly all agricultural products – supermarket shoppers. Save Mart has become known for bringing the “wow factor” to company stores with bright, colorful floral displays at each store entrance. Calistro, who oversees both produce and floral, will provide insights into consumer buying habits that shape the future demand for all agricultural products.

The conference is designed for farmers, farm managers, attorneys, appraisers, insurance personnel, processors, accountants, and others involved in California’s agribusiness industry.

Early registration fee is $100. Late or walk-in is $125. For more information, call 559.278.4405, contact Paggi at, or visit the CAB website at