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Third annual animal science conference is Tuesday in Willmar; AgTech Showcase kicks off Monday

WILLMAR — The third annual Animal Science Conference will be Tuesday at the MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar.

In addition to bringing bring animal science and food industry stakeholders together for discussions on the latest industry trends, for networking and investment opportunities, the conference speakers and participants will grapple with the issues of global hunger and making a safe, affordable and abundant food a reality.

Conference organizers expect attendees from across the Midwest, according to Joanna Schrupp, project assistant at the MinnWest Technology Campus.

The event is a daylong conference featuring speakers and panel discussions.

A reception and AgTech Showcase event hosted by the University of Minnesota’s Office for Technology Commercialization will kick things off Monday afternoon and evening at the Holiday Inn and Willmar Conference Center.

Speakers and panel discussion participants on Tuesday will discuss the challenges facing the global food system and the challenges facing producers in the beef, dairy, poultry and swine industries.

Rob Johnson, president of the Cargill Foundation and senior adviser in global policy studies at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs, will give the kick-off address on challenges to the global food system, including feeding a growing world population while addressing pressures to reduce pollution, slow climate change, improve food safety, dietary healthfulness and malnutrition.

The panel of producers slated to talk about the challenges and best practices relating to animal welfare, antimicrobial, environmental and technology issues includes Chad Carlson of the Carlson family dairy at Pennock; Troy Zuidema, calf grower, Zuidema Feed and Seed of Willmar; Chris Huisinga, general manager of Ag Forte, a division of Willmar Poultry; and Tim Long, director of grow-finish production for New Fashion Pork.

Dan Thomson, director of the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University, will present on the current state of animal welfare and the implications on the food animal production chain and how to engage producers and veterinarians on how they can move animal welfare forward to improve industry sustainability.

The keynote speaker is Chris Ashworth, a dairy technical consultant for Elanco Animal Health, chairman of the board of the Animal Agriculture Alliance and owner of New Frontier Angus Ranches in Fort Smith, Ark. Ashworth logs thousands of air travel miles each year traveling to speak about animal agriculture and the growing need for food to feed the nation and the world, which is expected to reach 9 billion people by 2050.

The closing conversation will be on the economic outlook for agriculture, animal science and the livestock industry. The discussion will include Brian Buhr, University of Minnesota economist, and Michael Swanson, economist for Wells Fargo.

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