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Last Updated: 11/22/2019

Improving Midwest Agriculture and the Environment

Midwest Agricultural Conference. Taking place November 20, 2019.

On November 20, 2019, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago held a conference to examine environmental issues related to Midwest agriculture, with a particular focus on conservation practices. Experts from academia, industry, and policy institutions gathered to discuss the connections between midwestern agriculture, the environment, and the regional economy. The goals of the conference include understanding the impacts of agriculture and conservation practices on the health of populations and their surroundings; analyzing farming policies that affect natural resources; and exploring how environmental considerations may affect the financing and sustainability of agriculture, which has generally been less profitable in recent years.

Robert Johansson
Chief Economist
United States Department of Agriculture

Dr. Robert Johansson serves as the Chief Economist at the Department of Agriculture (USDA). He has served in this role since July 2015. As Chief Economist, he is responsible for the Department's agricultural forecasts and projections and for advising the Secretary of Agriculture on economic implications of alternative programs, regulations, and legislative proposals. He is responsible for the Office of the Chief Economist, the World Agricultural Outlook Board, the Office of Risk Assessment and Cost-Benefit analysis, the Climate Change Program Office, the Office of Environmental Markets, the Office of Energy Policy and New Uses, and the Office of Pesticide Management Policy.

Dr. Johansson received B.A. in economics from Northwestern University and then served with the U.S. Peace Corps as an extension agent in several African countries from 1990 to 1995. After returning to his home State of Minnesota, he entered the graduate program in Agricultural Economics at the University of Minnesota at received his M.S. in 1997 and Ph.D. in 2000. His research has spanned a wide range of issues, including biofuels policy, water quality and quantity policies, regulatory economics, food security, and regional modeling of agricultural systems.

Wednesday, 11/20/19
8:00 AM
Registration and Continental Breakfast
9:00 AM
Welcome & Opening Remarks
Richard Mattoon, Policy Advisor, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
9:15 AM
Session I: Midwest Cropping Practices and the Environment
Gary Schnitkey, Professor and Soybean Industry Chair in Agricultural Strategy , University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
Emily Bruner, Midwest Conservation and Stewardship Program Manager, American Farmland Trust
10:30 AM
10:45 AM
Session II: Linkages between Midwest Livestock Agriculture and the State of the Environment
James Mintert, Professor and Director, Center for Commercial Agriculture, Purdue University
Matt Krueger, Executive Director, Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association
12:00 PM
Anna Paulson, Executive Vice President and Director of Research, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Robert Johansson, Chief Economist, U.S. Department of Agriculture
1:30 PM
Session III: Farmland Ownership and Environment Impacts
Alejandro Plastina, Assistant Professor, and Wendiam Sawadgo, Graduate Student, Iowa State University
Kevin Mahalko, President, GrassWorks Inc.
2:30 PM
2:45 PM
Session IV: Panel Discussion—How Will Improved Agricultural Practices Be Funded and Become Sustainable?
David Oppedahl, Senior Business Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Maria Lemke, Director of Science, The Nature Conservancy Illinois Chapter
Clay Mitchell, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Fall Line Capital
Ben Spitzley, Vice President and Commercial Lending Group Manager, GreenStone Farm Credit Services
Noah B. Yosif, Assistant Vice President for Economic Policy and Research, Independent Community Bankers of America
4:00 PM
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