Ben Allen
Enterprise Solutions Lead - Agriculture, Trimble

Ben grew up in Iowa and spent years working with family farms in the financial services sector. In 2002 he founded a grain production company that was responsible for contracting over 60,000 acres of corn and soy across the Midwest, becoming one of the largest producers of grain in North America. After earning his MBA, he focused on technology and worked with companies like MicroSoft, HP, and Sony on global projects while learning the vital role that technology plays in redefining industries around the world. In 2014 Ben became the Chief Revenue Officer at AgriTrend, a company acquired by Trimble in November 2015, where he is now responsible for global sales and marketing for enterprise customers within the Ag Business Solutions division.

Dr. Rex Bernardo
Professor and Endowed Chair in Corn Breeding and Genetics, University of Minnesota

Dr. Rex Bernardo is Professor and Endowed Chair in Corn Breeding and Genetics (http://bernardo-group.org) at the University of Minnesota. He obtained a B.S. degree in agriculture in the Philippines in 1984 and a Ph.D. in plant breeding at the University of Illinois in 1988. Dr. Bernardo was formerly a research scientist with Limagrain Genetics and a professor at Purdue University.

At Minnesota, Dr. Bernardo conducts research on new ways of breeding corn. He teaches graduate courses in plant breeding and is the author of two textbooks: Essentials of Plant Breeding, and Breeding for Quantitative Traits in Plants. In his presentation, Dr. Bernardo will describe the rudiments of how plant breeders develop new plant varieties.

April Crittenden
Director of Farm Certification, CCOF Certification Services, LLC

April Crittenden the CCOF Director of Farm Certification brings a wealth of knowledge on Organic Certification. She has worked at CCOF for over 9 years during which time she has had a variety of roles and responsibilities. She began her career as a Grower Certification Specialist where she gained an understanding of organic certification. As the Quality and Compliance Supervisor, April was responsible for overseeing all complaints, investigations, and the Pesticide Residue and GMO sampling programs. April studied at UC Santa Cruz where she received a BA in Environmental Studies and Anthropology. She also has certificates in Permaculture Design, NOP & ACA Trainings and has completed a variety of IOIA Certifications. When she isn’t working April enjoys backpacking, snowboarding and spending time in her garden.

Philippe de Laperouse
Managing Director, HighQuest Partners

Philippe de Lapérouse is Managing Director at HighQuest Partners. He has more than 20 years experience in senior leadership positions with global companies in the agro-industrial and value-added food chain and in private equity investing. Previously, as director of business development for Bunge North America Inc., he was responsible for the company’s efforts to expand its industrial operations into Mexico and the Caribbean Basin, biotech and e-commerce initiatives, and public relations/corporate communications (before and after Bunge’s successful IPO in 2001). Mr. de Lapérouse is a director of Sodrugestvo, the largest independent soybean crusher in Europe with its head office and main production facility in the Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia. Mr. de Lapérouse received an MBA from The Darden School of Business at The University of Virginia and a BA from Trinity College.

Dag Falck

Organic Program Manager, Nature’s Path Organic Foods

Dag Falck has served as Organic Program Manager for Nature’s Path Foods since 2003. Dag studied agronomy in Norway, and has worked for 14 years as an organic inspector in North America, verifying the organic status of a variety of farm operations, large field crop ventures, market gardens, orchards, and complex organic processors.

Dag is active in the organic industry, currently serving as President of the Canada Organic Trade Association (COTA) and past board of director with the Non GMO Project, 2008-2015. At Nature’s Path, Dag oversees the company’s organic supplies, policies and consumer interactions, building strong organic networks and connections between farmers, manufacturing and consumers.

Dag lives with his wife in British Columbia and enjoys growing his own veggies, organically!

Catherine Greene
Senior Agricultural Economist, Economic Research Service, USDA

Catherine Greene is a Senior Agricultural Economist in USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS).  Cathy has conducted economic research and analysis on the U.S. organic sector for over 25 years in ERS. Her research includes projects on the adoption of organic farming systems in the United States, the practices and profitability of organic production, and the changing policy and market conditions in the organic sector. She is the author of numerous USDA reports and articles on organic agriculture, including U.S. Organic Farming Emerges in the 1990s: Adoption of Certified Systems and Economic Issues in the Coexistence of Organic, Genetically Engineered (GE), and Non-GE Crops.

Peter Golbitz
President, Agromeris

Peter Golbitz is president of Agromeris, an advisory firm that focuses on the unique needs of the specialty food and agricultural marketplace.  With over 30 years of experience in the industry, Mr. Golbitz works closely with leading businesses and organizations on market and business development projects.

Prior to founding Agromeris, Peter Golbitz was the Director of International Business Development at SunOpta, a leading U.S. food processor.  Mr. Golbitz was also the founder and president of Soyatech, a consulting and publishing company that produces the annual Soya & Oilseed Bluebook.  Mr. Golbitz is on the board of directors of the World Soy Foundation, the Sustainable Food Trade Association, and sits on technical committees of the Organic Trade Association.

Kellee James
CEO, Mercaris

Kellee James is CEO of Mercaris, a market data service & trading platform for organic, non-GMO and other IP agricultural commodities. In 2009, she was appointed by President Barack Obama as a White House Fellow where she advised members of the administration on environmental markets. Kellee received her MBA and MA in International Development from American University and completed a BA in Spanish from the University of Kentucky.

Anna Jesus
Senior Director of Quality Systems, Amy's Kitchen

Anna Jesus has been working in various functions throughout the food industry for 20 years.  Having worked in the conventional food world for much of her career, she has spent the last 5 years primarily in the organic/ non-GMO side of the industry.  During her time at Amy’s Kitchen, she has worked with farmers to transition from conventional to organic crops, guided processors in obtaining organic certifications, and supported our customers, both internal and external, in ensuring Amy’s maintains the vision and charter of the founders.

Jay Johnson
Senior Vice President of Sales, Healthy Food Ingredients

With the sales oversight responsibility for Healthy Food Ingredients Jay and his team work with many food manufacturers that are looking at ways to offer Better for You options in the food aisles. As a mid sized company HFI has had the opportunity to partner with companies on specialized initiatives in the organic, Non GMO and Transitional markets. Jay began his work in the specialty agriculture markets as the Vice President of Procurement and Quality for Hesco. In this role he worked with farmers throughout North America as well as putting in place GFSI certifications at the Hesco facilities. This experience has been helpful as he works with companies on their sourcing needs in the Organic, Non GMO and Transitional markets by understanding the many factors involved for farmers as well as first stage grain processors.

Keith Jones
Professional Staff, U.S. House of Representatives - Committee on Agriculture

Keith Jones serves as a professional staff member for Ranking Member Collin C. Peterson (D-MN), U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture.

Keith has been engaged in the development of State and Federal agriculture policy for over 25 years and has been on the staff of the House Committee on Agriculture since January 2007. As staff director for the Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture he oversaw the development of organic and specialty crop title of the 2008 Farm Bill. Prior to joining the Committee, Keith served as USDA’s first program manager for the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) during the critical period between 1998 and 2000. His state level experience includes establishing the Texas Department of Agriculture’s organic certification program and serving as agriculture policy coordinator.

Nancy Knight
Business Unit Manager, NSF Consumer Values Verified

With over 25 years of quality assurance experience working at esteemed food companies like Kashi, Amy’s Kitchen, Unilever Foods and Pillsbury, Nancy Knight is a respected leader in label claims verification.  As an ASQ Certified Quality Engineer, Nancy has been able to use her extensive knowledge to implement quality systems, manage diverse teams, interpret relevant government regulations and lead certification efforts. Nancy now uses her expertise to lead NSF International’s Consumer Values Verified Program in her position of Business Unit Manager, where the Non-GMO Project Verification, NSF Non-GMO True North, NSF Gluten-Free programs have expanded under her guidance.

Sarah Krol
Global Director, Food Product Certification, NSF International / QAI

With over 10 years of quality assurance, regulatory compliance and product testing experience, Sarah Krol is a respected product certification veteran who has launched numerous high-quality product certification standards addressing key food and environmental safety issues. Some of the most recent innovative programs developed under her direction include: QAI Certified Transitional, NSF Non-GMO True North and NSF Gluten-Free. Sarah manages NSF’s organic certification division, QAI; our label claims program, Consumer Values Verified; as well as NSF’s nonfood compounds and food equipment programs. Her training has a chemist as given her an eye for detail and an understanding for industry applicable solutions.

Nathaniel Lewis
Farm Policy Director, Organic Trade Association (OTA)

Nathaniel provides staff support to OTA's Farmer Advisory Council, on-the-ground outreach to OTA's organic farmer membership community, and analysis of policy issues that affect organic crop and livestock producers. He interacts directly with government officials and the organic supply chain on behalf of the grower segment of OTA’s membership. Prior to his current position, Nathaniel served as Certification Coordinator for Washington State Dept. of Agriculture's organic certification program where he managed WSDA's material review program and gained certification experience in all scopes of organic production. Nathaniel’s responsibilities at WSDA also included coordination of their periodic residue sampling program. Nathaniel holds a Bachelor’s of Science from The Evergreen State College with a focus in agricultural science and organic chemistry.

Jeff Moyer
Executive Director, Rodale Institute

Jeff was appointed as Executive Director of Rodale Institute in 2015 after spending the last four decades at the Institute, helping farmers’ transition from conventional farming to organic methods. His expertise includes organic crop production systems with a focus on weed management, cover crops, crop rotations, equipment modification and use, and facilities design. He is well known for conceptualizing and popularizing the No Till Roller Crimper for use in organic agriculture. In 2011, he wrote Organic No-Till Farming, a publication that has become a global-wide resource.

He is a past chair of the National Organic Standards Board, a founding board member of Pennsylvania Certified Organic, the Chairman of the Board of Director of The Seed Farm, part of the Green America Non-GMO Working Group, a Project Member of The Noble Foundation’s Soil Renaissance project, and a Board Member of PA Farm Link.

Chris Schreiner
Executive Director, Oregon Tilth

Chris Schreiner has 20 years work experience in the organic sector. Since 1998, he has worked for Oregon Tilth. As Farm Program Coordinator, Chris coordinated the organic certification process for over 400 farms. As Quality Control Director, his responsibilities included policy analysis and managing accreditation with the USDA National Organic Program. Chris has been Oregon Tilth’s Executive Director since 2009. He has developed formal partnerships with traditional agricultural service providers, including Oregon State University and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, to expand access to expertise and resources for organic producers. In 2014, Chris served on the Oregon Governor’s Task Force on Genetically Engineered Agriculture. Chris is currently the co-chair of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's Research, Education and Extension Committee.