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Last Updated: 10/5/2015

Annual Agricultural Conference

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On November 17, 2015, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the Upjohn Institute held a conference to explore labor issues affecting agriculture and the rural Midwest. Farm jobs are key components of rural income in the Midwest, yet non-farm employment can be vital for many agricultural families. At the conference, experts from academia, industry and policy institutions discussed workforce trends, labor challenges and ways to improve life in the rural Midwest. The goals of the conference include understanding key issues related to rural and farm labor; describing the effects of labor challenges in rural areas; examining policies that affect rural and farm jobs; and grappling with possible solutions that would position the midwestern economy and agriculture for prosperous futures.

The conference preceded on November 16, 2015, by a performance of a play that deals with immigrant experiences in agriculture. A reception was held at 5:30 p.m. and the play at 6:30 p.m.

Monday, 11/16/15
5:30 PM
Tuesday, 11/17/15
6:30 PM
Performance and Policy Discussion

Vang – A Drama About Recent Immigrant Farmers

Welcome and Introduction
David Oppedahl, Senior Business Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Mary Swander, Poet Laureate, State of Iowa
Note: There is a $25 fee to attend the 11/16 reception, play and policy discussion.
8:00 AM
Registration and Continental Breakfast
9:00 AM
Welcome and Opening Remarks
David Oppedahl, Senior Business Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Randall W. Eberts, President, Upjohn Institute
9:15 AM
Session 1: Rural Workforce Issues
Carolyn J. Hatch, Community and Regional Development Associate, Purdue University
Scott Loveridge, Professor, Michigan State University
10:30 AM
10:45 AM
Session 2: Panel Discussion – What Role Should Immigration Play in the Future of the Midwest’s Rural Workforce?
Rick Mattoon, Senior Economist and Economic Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Excerpt from Vang
Mary Swander, Poet Laureate, the State of Iowa
David P. Anderson, Professor and Extension Economist, Texas A&M University
Diane Charlton, Graduate Fellow, University of California at Davis
Baldemar Velasquez, President, Farm Labor Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO
12:00 PM
Dan Aaronson, Vice President and Director of Microeconomic Research, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Daniel G. Sullivan, Executive Vice President and Director of Research, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
1:30 PM
Session 3: Farm Labor Trends and Challenges
Thomas Hertz, Economist, Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Bidisha Mandal, Associate Professor, Washington State University
2:45 PM
Session 4: Panel Discussion – How Can Rural Areas Attract the Labor Force Necessary for their Economies to Thrive?
William Testa, Vice President and Director of Regional Research, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
George S. Corona, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Kelly Services
Jerry Szatan, Site Selection Consultant, Szatan & Associates
Randall W. Eberts, President, Upjohn Institute
4:00 PM
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