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2014 Ag & Food HR Roundtable Draws Record-Breaking Crowd

By: Erika Osmundson, Director of Marketing & Communications

It is hard to believe that another year of the Ag & Food HR Roundtable has passed. This summer has just flown by! We are very pleased to announce that this year’s event had a great turnout, excellent networking and a lot of valuable information shared.

More than 230 human resource professionals, university and college career services staff and industry association representatives gathered in Minneapolis, August 5 - 7. Thanks to our wonderful host, CHS Inc., the downtown location provided a perfect venue and a lot of entertainment that helped to enhance the networking experience.

The conference started off with a bang. Sarah Wilson, a Farmer on a Mission, set the stage with her passion for the agriculture industry and how important it is for all of us to help ‘AGVOCATE’ for the industry. She provided a number of examples (some of them quite unique) that we all can try within our own communities. Personally, my favorite was the ‘AG Day Baby’.

Next up was a returning favorite from last year, Nicole Price from Cy Wakeman. Nicole’s energy and wit provided a great way to cap off the first day of the conference. She shared insight into the realities of the workplace and how we can all be more accountable for ourselves as well as those we may lead. There were plenty of takeaways on how individuals can give back to their organizations, but also how to get more personally out of the experience (and I’m not talking about compensation).

Wednesday was a full day as usual. We started with a very thought provoking presentation from futurist, Bob Treadway. From comments from the participants, it sounds like he opened many of their eyes to factors that will impact our industry as well as how the industry could change in the coming years. He shared a recent study of jobs within and/or related to the agriculture industry that are susceptible to computerization. Very interesting! It was good to also see the list of jobs that had a low probability of computerization. To wrap up, Bob brought it all back around to ‘talent’.

General sessions for the day concluded with two panel discussions. The first featured several students from varying universities and majors. The focus for this discussion was on effective student recruitment. Who better to share that insight than students themselves? The audience asked a lot of good questions and the students were very open and honest with their responses. Moderating the panel was Paula Beecher from Clemson University.

The second panel highlighted unique talent pools. The unique talent pools our panelists represented were military, non-ag university/majors, special populations and 2-year colleges. This panel also sparked a lot of good conversation and it was apparent that our industry is still exploring and trying to tap into as many resources as possible. Thank you to our panelists Carlos Gerle, Murphy-Brown LLC; Anthony Hunter, Cargill; Jennifer Neef, University of Illinois; and Brad Schloesser, Southern Minnesota Center of Agriculture.

On Thursday we kicked off the final day with a talk on compensation and its impact on retention. As our presenter, Ann Bares with Altura Consulting Group, said with a little sarcasm to begin her presentation, “Compensation is fun stuff.” It may not be the most exciting, but the information shared was very informative and the advice provided gave participants plenty to think about as it relates to their organizations.

The remainder of the conference session time was filled with a variety of concurrent sessions that participants were able to choose from. There were sessions just for university/college staff, small and mid-sized organizations, large organizations, sessions focused on recruiting and sessions on HR management. Thank you to all of these presenters and moderators as well!

We also had plenty of fun -- from our opening Welcome Reception, to the Table Topics and Best Practices breakfasts, to our evening dinner at Mill City Museum. There was some great networking happening and a lot of pictures being taken. Thank you to our sponsors who help provide support for these activities and much more.

Overall, we felt the event was a success and want to thank all of those that participated on the Organizing Committee and were an integral part of planning the event. The event could not take place without a host and this year, we want to once again thank CHS Inc. for being such a gracious host. Finally, we’d like to thank all of the participants. We are so pleased to meet new participants and welcome old friends each year.

Mark your calendars and plan to attend next year’s Ag & Food Roundtable, August 4 - 6, 2015 in St. Louis, MO hosted by Monsanto. To take advantage of all of the conference offerings, be sure to register early. If you have interest in participating in the 2015 Roundtable Organizing Committee, please email