A Week of Educational & Camaraderie with Fellow Ag and AgTech Professionals
Fargo-Moorhead’s agtech leaders are coming together to put on AgTech Week—a week full of ag and agtech-based events that will bring together local producers and the organizations that help them thrive. Set to take place during the first week of June, the three primary events will include the FMWF Chamber’s Midwest Ag Summit, the Bushel Buddy Seat Conference, and Grand Farm’s Cultivate Conference. Below, we have included a preview of each event. Read on for more info about these agtech events!
A Look into the Midwest Agriculture Summit
(Hosted by the FMWF Chamber)
Information about the Midwest Agriculture Summit was provided by the FMWF Chamber.
About the Midwest Agriculture Summit
The FMWF Chamber launched the Midwest Summit series in 2021 because the Upper Midwest is not only the place we call home, but a national and global powerhouse in agriculture, energy, technology, economic impact, and more. This four-event series is an impactful convening of industry leaders, innovators, policymakers, and influencers to discuss pressing topics, address challenges, share ideas, create solutions, and strengthen our collective voice on a national level.
The Midwest Agriculture Summit is the second summit of the 2023 series, taking place on June 6 at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds. Experts, businesses, and policymakers from across the region and nation will be unpacking, discussing, and taking an in-depth look at the dynamic facets of the Ag sector, including critical policies and pressing issues.
The Midwest plays a critical role in agriculture in the United States and globally. As an ag hub that the world relies on for essential crops, livestock, equipment, and other products, we must have intentional conversations that convene leaders and policymakers to promote and protect this sector. The Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo area is also an entrepreneurial hub bursting with transformative ideas, education, cutting-edge technologies, and a growing ecosystem for businesses, all related to agriculture. We must continue to shine a light on the work being done in our region as the FMWF area continues to elevate itself on a national scale and transform the region.
Increased awareness and understanding of issues related to agriculture, such as food security, sustainable agriculture practices, policy, and rural development.
To promote and raise awareness about the importance of the agriculture industry in the Midwest and its impact on a national and global level.
The development of new partnerships and collaboration among stakeholders of the agriculture industry, including agribusinesses, growers, adjacent business sectors, and government officials.
To provide a platform for key stakeholders and businesses in agriculture and adjacent industries to come together to openly discuss efficiencies, developments, innovations, policies, and more.
An understanding of key Midwest components of the 2023 Farm Bill regarding conservation programs, crop insurance, nutrition programs, and more.
To foster collaboration and networking opportunities among industry leaders, policymakers, and stakeholders.
Knowledge from industry and research leaders regarding impacts of the growing emphasis on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in the agricultural industry
To highlight key discussion points within the agriculture sector including trends, economic outlook, 2023 farm bill policies, and ESG impacts.
Streaming & Co-Host Information
The Midwest Summits are co-hosted by 26 chambers of commerce across Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. These co-hosts provide additional connections and relationships, offer programming ideas and insight, showcase the live stream in their own communities, and receive well-deserved recognition at each summit. The Midwest Summits are hosted in person in the FMWF area and are also live-streamed across the Upper Midwest at no cost to viewers. The live stream can be accessed through the FMWF Chamber’s website and is broadcasted on every Forum Communications digital news site in 22 markets across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
2023 Speakers & Panel Content
Dr. Walter Kemmsies
Managing Partner, The Kemmsies Group
Dr. Walter Kemmsies is widely viewed as one of the foremost experts on ports, rail, and infrastructure in the U.S. His areas of expertise include demand forecasting, maritime, and overall global trade regulatory issues, public and private port and infrastructure financing, and long-term strategic planning and capital investment. Having worked in major cities all over the world, Walter has a global perspective which uniquely qualifies him as a global trade economist.
Walter currently advises several major U.S. Port Authorities and is routinely asked to work on complex issues with various investment banks, private equity firms, and public regulatory agencies. He provides substantial support to the freight movement industry via publication of port volume data for the American Association of Port Authorities, presentations at major international industry conferences, and advises the U.S. Department of Commerce on supply chain competitiveness. Walter recently testified to the U.S. Senate Transportation and Commerce Subcommittee on issues affecting freight industry. He has also published research in scholarly journals.
Prior to joining JLL, Dr. Kemmsies was the Chief Economist for Moffat & Nichol, a leading global infrastructure advisement firm. Proceeding his experience working with Moffat & Nichol, Walter was the Head of European Strategy at JP Morgan in London, and, earlier, Head of Global Industry Strategy at UBS in Zurich and London.
The Midwest Ag Summit will also feature two panels of experts with the first being heavily focused on policies, regulation and the paramount Farm Bill of 2023, and the second uncovering and discussing leading efficiencies, development, innovation, sustainability, and the landscape of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) evolution and impacts.
2022 Midwest Ag Summit Highlights
Last year’s Midwest Ag Summit featured policymakers, national USDA officials, and local agriculture experts who convened in Fargo to discuss the current state of agriculture, the effects of foreign conflict, national security, efforts of elected officials in our region, and what to expect in the future. Speakers stressed the importance of the Farm Bill being a bipartisan effort, and teamwork across the aisles being critical for our nation’s thriving agricultural industry.
“We have such amazing agriculture and such amazing farmers and ranchers, but we can’t take it for granted,” U.S. Senator John Hoeven said. “We have got to continue to support what they’re out doing every day.”
The war in Ukraine was also a major topic at the event. Keynote speaker Robert Bonnie, U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary, covered the effects that the war abroad has had on our farmers and ranchers here at home.
We all see the news in Ukraine, it’s horrible. If there is a silver lining for folks in agriculture, it’s that it has brought agricultural issues to the forefront. Hopefully that builds in the Farm Bill and other issues where people support agriculture and create more support for everything we do in agriculture.”-Robert Bonnie
Last Year’s Speakers Included:
2022 Keynote Speakers
Robert Bonnie, Undersecretary, USDA
Zach Ducheneaux, Administrator, USDA
2022 Panel: Strengthening our Voice in Washington
Amy Klobuchar, U.S. Senator
John Hoeven, U.S. Senator
Michelle Fischbach, U.S. Representative
2022 Panel: Ag Technology and Innovation
Joel Kaczynski, Precision Ag Solutions Manager, RDO Equipment
Brian Ingulsrud, Vice President, American Crystal Sugar Company
Nancy Johnson, Executive Director, ND Soybean Growers Association
Taya Spelhaug, Board Director, Grand Farm
Interested in the Midwest Ag Summit?
The conference will be held on Tuesday, June 6 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds, 1805 Main Ave W, West Fargo.
Cost: $45 for in-person attendance; virtual attendance is free
The FMWF Chamber invites you to join them at the event in person by either registering individually or sponsoring the event. Sponsors receive recognition leading up to, during, and after the event, as well as reserved seats. Learn more about their various sponsorship opportunities, register, and tune in!]
Bushel’s Buddy Seat Conference Brings Ag Together
As one of the leading agtech companies in the nation, Bushel is always looking for new ways to help growers and buyers in the agriculture industry. One of the things they have done to raise awareness about the resources available in the agtech industry is hosting a customer-focused conference. In 2022, Bushel held their first customer conference to much success. This year, they have branded their conference the “Buddy Seat Conference,” a reference to the “buddy seat” next to the driver’s seat in a tractor or combine. This year’s conference, much like last year’s, focuses on bringing together people in the agriculture industry from all over the country to strengthen the growing experience. I spoke with Bushel’s VP of Customer Experience, Benny Andres, about the conference and what to expect when you attend.
A Buddy Conference Q&A with Bushel’s Benny Andress
To start off, what is your role with the Buddy Seat Conference?
As the VP of Customer Experience here at Bushel, partnering closely with our Marketing team, I am involved in the planning, organization, and execution of the Bushel Buddy Seat conference. As this conference is primarily focused on bringing our customer base together for camaraderie and thought leadership, it is important that we are building content that will bring value to our customers.
Is there a theme/overarching topic for the conference?
In 2023, we officially branded our customer conference as the “Buddy Seat” conference. “Buddy Seat” is a reference to the seat alongside the driver’s seat in a tractor or combine. We are leaning into the concept of our customers hopping on and riding along in the buddy seat as we look to collaborate with them to digitize and improve their business operations. The main themes of our Buddy Seat conference are camaraderie and thought leadership or shared learning as it relates to agriculture and how technology can help propel the industry forward. Bushel’s products play a big role in that endeavor.
Do you partner with any of the other events during that week?
Yes, we closely partner with Grand Farm and their Cultivate Conference. Bushel Buddy Seat attendees are eligible for a discounted ticket for the Cultivate Conference and we are planning a joint “Shindig” in downtown Fargo on the evening of Wednesday, June 7, 2023 for both Buddy Seat and Cultivate attendees, speakers, and sponsors.
What can people look forward to experiencing when they come to the Buddy Seat Conference?
Our customers and partners can expect a fun-filled week of camaraderie, learning, and thought leadership as they come together with agriculture industry professionals from across the US and Canada. Additionally, this is a great opportunity for attendees not from the Fargo/Moorhead region to get a taste of our great culture and vibrant downtown community. Attendees last year were amazed at the warm and welcoming atmosphere that Fargo has to offer.
What kind of people usually come to the event? Producers, academics, other professionals in the industry?
Bushel’s customers are Agribusiness professionals with titles ranging from Grain Merchandiser or Originator to CEO, CFO, or CIO of grain facilities across the country. In addition to Agribusiness professionals, Bushel also has a direct-to-farmer product called Bushel Farm. We will also see farmers from across the country show interest in attending the Buddy Seat Conference.
How much does it cost?
Tickets are $249 (plus fees and taxes) for the Buddy Seat Conference. Additionally, through our partnership with Emerging Prairie and Grand Farm, Bushel Buddy Seat attendees can also register for the Buddy Seat Conference and the Cultivate Conference for a total price of $299 (plus fees and taxes), which is a $50 discount on the Cultivate Conference registration. Interested parties can learn more and register by visiting buddyseat.com.
How is the conference supporting agriculture in FM, the region in general, the nation, and beyond?
This conference is bringing Agribusiness professionals and farmers from across the region and country together for shared learning, specifically focused on technology and how technology can help improve the industry. Over the years, Bushel has built a robust network of agriculture industry leaders through the use and adoption of our technology products. Bushel is the common thread that is bringing these leaders together to continue to make progress in the digital transformation of agriculture.
Though speakers are still being confirmed, Bushel has provided the topics for their sessions for their conference in June. Each session will be led by ag experts from all over the country.
What The Jetsons, The Flintstones, and Farmers Have in Common
Farmers might be living in the space age with some of the advancements brought on through agtech…but they’re living in the stone age for others. Why, in 2023, do farmers still need to get physical checks for grain? Why are they relying on unsecure, ACH transactions if they do want a digital payment?
Would You Like Fries With That? Supersized Tech Stacks in Agriculture That Focus on Organizing the “Messy Middle”
In six short years, Bushel saw agribusiness of all sizes go from, “We don’t need this technology,” to “Well, what else can Bushel provide us?” Join a panel of Bushel’s customers as they discuss what keeps them engaged with Bushel’s tools and what they are challenging us to think about next. This panel will also discuss what else they are using in their tech stack to power their operations.
Agtech Is So Hot Right Now: Agtech Trends That Look Promising for Farmers and Agribusinesses
Agtech is entering another new era. Perhaps more importantly, agtech is maturing to support business models that can grow to scale. Hear from the folks who are always scanning the agtech landscape for the next tech solution worth looking at.
Bushel’s State of the Farm Report Highlights
Hear interesting insights we collected from the 1,700+ farmers who participated in our 2023 State of Farm.
Yeti Coolers and Sticky Notes. Let’s Talk About the Classic (and Innovative!) Ways to Boost Grower Adoption
You’ve hung the posters. You posted the Facebook ad. But you’re still not seeing the growers using the app like you’d wish. Listen to our Customer Success Team joining customers like you to talk about what’s worked for improving grower adoption.
Hello HAL 9000: Understanding Artificial Intelligence Through OpenAI
In December 2022, OpenAI released ChatGPT and the world of artificial intelligence changed overnight. Learn how you can apply AI within your organization and what to be on alert for.
Oh, Hack No: Keeping Your Agribusiness and Farmers Safe From Cybersecurity Threats
Cyber attacks are on the rise, especially in the food supply chain. Cyber criminals are seeking weaknesses for many types of attacks including denial of service, theft of sensitive data and ransomware attacks. What systems are most at risk? How can you strengthen your walls to make sure you keep hackers at bay and out of your tech stack.
FOMO: The Not-So-Secret Psychological Reason That Farmers Hate Marketing Their Grain
What keeps farmers from feeling good about their grain marketing plans? It’s never been easier to access information…but why does it feel like farmers never have enough information to feel good about the grain marketing decisions they are making? Is it Fear Of Missing Out (aka FOMO)? Or is it something else?
*Sessions are subject to change, dependent on speaker availability. Stay up-to-date on session changes and speaker announcements at buddyseat.com
As a customer, it was really enjoyable meeting and bouncing ideas off of other customers. Very proud to be working with such a successful company.-2022 Buddy Seat Conference Attendee
[The Buddy Seat conference was a] great event that I was glad to be a part of. Nice to see the vision and work being done, as well as collaboration and meeting more of the Bushel team in person, along with others on the platform in the industry.-2022 Buddy Seat Conference Attendee
Interested in the Bushel Buddy seat conference?
Head to buddyseat.com for more information, and check out the schedule below!
Conference Schedule (at the Fargo Theatre)
Tuesday, June 6
- Welcome Social 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Wednesday, June 7
- Conference 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Shindig Party (in collaboration with Grand Farm’s Cultivate Conference) 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Cost: $249 Buddy Seat Conference only; $299 Buddy Seat Conference + Cultivate Conference
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Grand Farm’s Cultivate Conference
Cultivate Conference, organized by Grand Farm, is a staple AgTech event in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Each year, Grand Farm brings in experts from various areas of the AgTech field to educate and inspire local AgTech professionals and encourage networking among those involved in the agriculture industry. This year, the conference is bringing in even more experts, including speakers from the North Dakota Trade Office and the Canadian Consulate. The following article is a preview of the conference and includes a sneak peek into what the NDTO and Canadian Consulate will be speaking about at the event!
About Cultivate Conference
*Information about Cultivate Conference provided by Grand Farm.
Cultivate Conference is an agriculture technology conference that convenes innovators to explore technology innovations they’ve created, are currently building, or are searching for in their industry. The conference seeks to energize the AgTech community by showcasing the latest innovation in AgTech and how it solves real world problems faced by the agriculture industry.
Cultivate Conference brings together a diverse community of experts, thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and growers to share their knowledge and experiences, and explore the exciting possibilities of technology in agriculture.
Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about cutting-edge solutions to real-world problems, connect with others in AgTech, and discover new opportunities to grow their businesses and drive innovation in this dynamic field. The Cultivate Conference is the must-attend event for anyone interested in the future of agriculture technology.
Goals of the Conference
- Highlight work being done in agriculture technology.
- Provide a space for growers to give AgTech feedback.
- Create connections between startups, growers, corporations, technologists, investors, educators and universities.
- Spotlight public-private partnership opportunities.
What to Expect
- Networking Opportunities: The conference will be peppered with plenty of networking opportunities and we will create space for attendees to connect.
- Relevant Content: Conference content will be woven in a narrative format to keep everyone engaged.
- Hybrid: This event will be hybrid so participants can attend in-person or virtually.
- Workshops: There will be workshops and meetings as part of Cultivate.
Those involved in or interested in the agriculture technology industry, including growers, startups, corporations, ecosystem builders, government entities, educators, research institutions, and investors.
Q&A with North Dakota Trade Office’s Lindsey Warner and the Canadian Consulate’s Christina Connelly
Though the paths of the North Dakota Trade Office and the Canadian Consulate often cross, it’s not often they plan their educational efforts together. At this year’s Cultivate Conference, the two organizations are going to be working together to show how people in the ag industry can benefit from both of them working in tandem. I sat down to chat with Lindsey Warner, Director of Operations at the North Dakota Trade Office, and Christina Connelly, Trade Commissioner at the Canadian Consulate, to get a preview of what their organizations do and what they are planning for their Cultivate Conference panel.
Can you give me an overview of what your organizations do?
Lindsey: At the North Dakota Trade Office, we are a private-public partnership with the state of North Dakota, so we’re not actually a state entity. We work with North Dakota companies to help them expand their exports across borders. So a majority of what we do is international, but there is some domestic trade that we help companies with, if needed. It’s just that international [trade] is a little more complicated, and that’s where most companies need assistance. We work across all industries in the state.
Being a very agriculture-heavy state, we obviously work with a lot of agriculture companies. That comes in the form of agriculture production of commodities, and then also our machinery, manufacturers, dealers, and some AgTech. We [also] work in other industries as well, like aviation and healthcare. We work with exporters in a variety of ways, like advocacy for any trade issues that pop up that impact our companies, trade missions, and reverse missions internationally. Trade mission is outbound, where we take companies to a state or to another country to meet with potential buyers. Reverse mission is inbound, where we bring buyers into North Dakota. We also provide education, assist with export management, and provide export expertise more so than anything else. But as a hybrid state trade office, we also work really closely with various consulates, including Christina at the Canadian Consulate, and other consulates and embassies from all over the world.
Christina: I am based at the Consulate General of Canada in Minneapolis. And from Minneapolis, we cover Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska. And what that means from a business development perspective—I’m on our business development (trade) team—is that we help Canadian businesses that are looking at opportunities in those five states. There are consulates all over that cover other states as well as globally. I specifically focus on food and agricultural opportunities. So, I help facilitate straight-up buyer-seller things like what Lindsey was just describing, like when a Canadian company wants to sell their product into Target. Target is headquartered here, so I make those connections. I help them understand the process.
[I also facilitate] partnerships, which is more relevant for this conversation in AgTech. We’ve, for instance, had companies partner with Emerging Prairie and the Grand Farm to demonstrate their technology on the Grand Farm. Or [we can help companies] partner with a farmer that’s on the Grand Farm Grower Advisory Board and things like that. And then likewise, like Lindsey, I also work with companies that are located here in those five states who are looking to expand into Canada. And again, that’s from an investment perspective. For example, if Cargill wants to set up another meat processing plant in Alberta—that’s not true (as far as I know), but it could be things of that nature. So with North Dakota, we’ve had a really strong partnership over the last three or four years in this AgTech space.
I think probably the most relevant [example] has been through our AgTech Canadian Technology Accelerator. So I bring in a cohort of 8-10 AgTech startups every year that I’m trying to help find not only end-user customers in the Midwest, but also venture capital and other capital investors. And they’ve found a lot of traction in North Dakota through many different means, whether that’s investment or partnership with a North Dakota company, pilot demonstrations, or research opportunities with NDSU. This year, I will not be bringing a new cohort. I’m actually going to be bringing some of our alums back from the past three cohorts who all lived through COVID, many of whom could not make it to Fargo [during that time]. And so it’s going to be like a party. That’s what I’m envisioning. We’ll have a good group. I’m hoping for 10 companies, but from several different cohorts.
I know we’ve kind of talked about it a little bit already in each of your descriptions, but what do your organizations do in collaboration with each other?
Christina: Well, I guess I would say we were more recently connected. We both have worked closely and for quite some time with Grand Farm. And then we started talking more recently, because we’re hoping to kind of elaborate on this relationship [between the Consulate and the Trade Office] during Cultivate and talk about how we, collectively, as ecosystems, have seen North Dakota-Canada partnerships in AgTech develop. And then, hopefully, have those companies talk about why it’s been important to their business, or what was challenging and things like that. So we are just kind of starting to work together.
Lindsey: I would say, historically, for us, we have worked with the Canadian Consulate in the past and in various ways, whether it’s having somebody from the consulate come and present to our companies, or if we have an issue with a North Dakota company with a product that they’re sending to Canada. There are a lot of ways that we’ve worked with the consulates in the past, and that’s something that we do consistently. We have tried to build our relationships with the consulates in markets that are really important for North Dakota exporters so that we’re able to use them as another resource. Because the consulates are tied into government, in some instances when there are problems, or if there’s advocacy that we need to work on, consulates are great partners for that.
Christina: Yeah, that’s great background. Beyond our trade work, we have a whole team that deals with foreign policy and diplomacy that does exactly what Lindsey was mentioning. [The team] helps advocate on behalf of Canadian companies. But oftentimes, given that we’re in the border region, they’re trying to find common ground on issues like shared waters, pipelines, and energy. We’ve had a longer-term relationship in that sense. I just don’t personally do that work as much, but we also have an ag advocacy position in our office, who is more active and kind of straddles both worlds, where he’s specifically focused on market access, with regards to agricultural policy, between Canada and the US.
So what I’m gathering is that you guys have worked together in passing, but now you’re trying to actively partner together and figure out ways that you can collaborate that’s helpful for all of the people that each organization works with.
Christina: Yeah, and I think right now, in the more immediate sense, we’re trying to put together this session that really just showcases the mutual benefit of North Dakota-Canada ag business partnerships.
Could you go into a little bit more depth on what your organizations plan to talk about at Cultivate Conference?
Christina: So there’s kind of two pieces. One is during the morning part of Cultivate. I’m planning to have the group of [startup] companies I bring down give short pitches—a couple of minutes each for a total of half an hour—on their technology solutions in ag that might be relevant for North Dakota partners. And then, in the afternoon, we’re working on a joint session that’s part of one of the breakouts, rather than the main stage, that addresses what we’ve been talking about. Things like: what are the reasons that North Dakota and Canada partner, and how has that specifically benefited companies on both sides of the border? So I think what we’re hoping to do is give a general overview of the Canada-North Dakota business relationship, and then have companies that are actively partnering talk about those partnerships—one on the Canadian side, one on the North Dakota side—and say, “here’s how we came together. Here’s how these partners were instrumental in making that happen. Here are some of the challenges we faced. And also, here are some things that we have found particularly valuable about this kind of partnership, and how other companies might go about it.”
Lindsey: One of the big messages, too, and I know Christina covered this a little bit, is how, for North Dakota companies that are just getting into exporting, Canada is the easiest first step—to the point where some people forget about it. We’ve asked the question before to companies: where do you export to? And they often say, “Oh, well, nowhere. I don’t export.” And then they say, “but I send product to Canada.” You kind of forget that’s still exporting. You’re still sending to a foreign country. So it’s good to showcase to people who would like those partnerships, even though it doesn’t seem like an export, or it doesn’t seem far. Canada is a great first step for exporters, and we have a strong partnership with our neighbors to the north.
Interested in the Cultivate Conference?
Cultivate Conference will take place on Thursday, June 8, 2023 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Fargo Theatre.
For more information and to register for the conference, go to grandfarm.com/cultivate.
Cost: $100 per person
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