NEAFA Annual Meeting a Success

New Leaders Elected

Back Row: (L-R) Rick Zimmerman (Executive Director). Craig Newton, Ryan James, Mark Anderson, Blake Lutz, Kristan Reed, Greg McCulloch, Rick Grant (retiring Board member)  Front row: Andy Dugan, Immediate Past President, John Clark, President, Lon Stephens, Secretary, Barry Baetz, Treasurer, Danielle Penny Stroop, Vice President. Missing from photo: Janet Beken Smith, Corwin Holtz, Jenny Mills, Clayton Wood.

Back Row: (L-R) Rick Zimmerman (Executive Director). Craig Newton, Ryan James, Mark Anderson, Blake Lutz, Kristan Reed, Greg McCulloch, Rick Grant (retiring Board member)

Front row: Andy Dugan, Immediate Past President, John Clark, President, Lon Stephens, Secretary, Barry Baetz, Treasurer, Danielle Penny Stroop, Vice President. Missing from photo: Janet Beken Smith, Corwin Holtz, Jenny Mills, Clayton Wood.

The Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance’s (NEAFA) 2019 Annual Meeting at Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Florida was an outstanding multi day program of nationally recognized speakers From March 3-6. “This was a great meeting of over 100 members and guests that represent the best of the agribusiness industry,” said Rick Zimmerman, NEAFA’s Executive Director. “Positive reviews from attendees continue to roll in, and I personally think it was one of the best annual meetings that we’ve ever had.” Incoming NEAFA President John Clark agreed. “I’ve attended an Annual Meeting since the mid 1990s for NEAFA or its predecessors,” said Clark.  “This was an incredible meeting content wise and the speakers were the best I have heard.  It would be hard to have attended the sessions and not come away with a great take home message or idea to implement.  People around me were incredibly moved after listening to Chad Hymas, in ways they could not have imagined prior to his presentation .”

Highlights of the event included keynote presentations from Dr. Andy Novakovic, Sheila Webb Pierson, and Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, a dairy farmer panel discussion featuring successful northeast dairy farmers, and breakout sessions on commodity markets, becoming a better leader, and feed mill operational challenges. “The 2019 Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance annual meeting provided a great opportunity to learn about current topics facing agriculture and network with all aspects of the feed industry,” said Jenny Mills, a Senior Account Consultant for Distribution and Feed Companies.  “I really enjoyed interacting with the diverse membership of the alliance and discuss opportunities facing our industry as a whole.” Jeff Matuszczak, PAS of the Mercer Milling Company agreed. “The annual meeting was highlighted by a great line up of speakers and relevant topics,” said Matuszczak. “The producer panel was divided up by a unique group of dairy business owners, and it was one of the best panel experiences I have had in recent years, just superb. The breakout programs were informative and engaging, there was something for everyone. There was even plenty of time to interact with industry professionals and NEAFA members in a great environment.”

During the annual meeting, NEAFA also elected new officers and board members. Former Vice President John Clark was elected president, and board member Danielle Penny Stroop ascended to the Vice Presidents’ seat. New board members include Dr. Kristan Reed of Cornell University and Jeff Matuszczak of Mercer Milling. Board members Corwin Holtz and Blake Lutz are returning to the Board for their second terms.

NEAFA was also proud to present charter member Bill Colton with the Distinguished Service Award, the highest accolade that the organization can give to recognize not only someone’s service to NEAFA, but to the entire agricultural industry throughout their career. “Bill Colton was very deserving of this award,” said Zimmerman. “It’s hard to think of anyone else that has worked as hard to promote and advance agribusiness more than Bill, and we wish him the best in his retirement.”

Another highlight of the annual meeting was the presentation by motivational speaker Chad Hymas. He has taken his personal tragedy - which left him as a wheelchair bound paraplegic - and used it to become one of the best speakers in the world. Hymas helps to lift your own ambitions and achieve new heights.   “If Chad Hymas can overcome adversity on a daily basis, travel hundreds of thousands of miles each year to deliver a solid, emotional, and captivating message of perseverance and overcoming defeat, then anyone can achieve their life goals,” said Zimmerman.

Wrapping up the annual meeting was a farm tour exploring Florida’s dairy and citrus fruit industries. On the dairy side, NEAFA visited Dakin Dairy in Myakka City, FL. Dakin Dairy is a 2400 cow, 1000 acre dairy farm with a milk processing plant that produces a complete spectrum of dairy products including fluid milk, soft and hard cheeses and other cultured products. 

Attendees also got to visit Mixon Fruit Farms in Bradenton, FL specializes in citrus and has been in business for 76 years. Rated #1 Florida citrus farm for touring, Mixon features a full range of citrus products in their large retail shop adjacent to their processing facility.