Speaker Bios

Mr. Ben Barstow, Eastern Washington wheat and barley grower

After receiving a B.S. from the University of Idaho, and an M.S. from Purdue University, Mr. Barstow spent four years working in Cooperative Extension and Weed Science research in Arizona. He was a newly tenured Assistant Extension Professor at the University of Idaho 20 years ago when he “retired,” to take the reins of his wife’s family’s farm in Palouse, Washington. Together with his wife, Janet, Mr. Barstow grows dryland winter wheat, barley, and dry green peas on about 1000 acres of Palouse silt loam soil in Eastern Washington.

Mr. Barstow has served as the chairman of the Washington Dry Pea and Lentil Commission, and is the immediate Past President of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers. He currently serves as the Research Committee Chairman for the National Association of Wheat Growers.

Having worked in sweet corn, soybeans, alfalfa, cotton, and canola, with both insects and weeds, Mr. Barstow has had many opportunities to witness pesticide resistance disasters. Over the last 20 years as a farmer, he personally understands the economic hurdles farmers face in avoiding those disasters.

Mr. Chuck Farr, Crop Consultant, Mid-South Ag Consultants, Inc.

Mr. Farr has been named Consultant of the Year by the National Alliance of Independence Crop Consultants. He has been named Consultant of the Year by Cotton Farming Magazine which is voted on by his peers in his field. He specializes in corn, cotton, wheat, soybeans, rice, and milo. Mr. Farr holds a bachelor of science in agronomy from the University of Arkansas and a master of science in plant science from Arkansas State University. He has been consulting for 24 years in Northeast Arkansas. He has a wonderful wife Tami and 3 wonderful boys- Taylor (17), Charlie (12), and Kevin Landry (5).

Dr. George Frisvold, Professor, University of Arizona

Dr. Frisvold is a professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of Arizona. He received his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests include domestic and international environmental policy, as well as the causes and consequences of technological change in agriculture. He has been a visiting scholar at India’s National Institute of Rural Development, a lecturer at the Johns Hopkins University, and chief of the Resource and Environmental Policy Branch of USDA’s Economic Research Service. In 1995-1996, Dr. Frisvold served as a senior economist for the President’s Council of Economic Advisers with responsibility for agricultural, natural resource, and international trade issues.

Dr. Thomas Green, President, IPM Institute of North America

Dr. Green is president and co-founder of the IPM Institute of North America, a non-profit organization whose mission is to leverage marketplace power to improve health, environment, and economics in agriculture and communities. The Institute created IPM STAR certification for schools, now impacting more than 2 million children and adopted by the U.S. Army, and offers Green Shield Certification to structural pest management professionals. The Institute is a partner with Sysco on its Sustainable Agriculture/IPM initiative and, with American Farmland Trust in the BMP CHALLENGE project, guarantees farmer income when they adopt conservation practices.  Dr. Green and the Institute earned recognitions from the Sixth International IPM Symposium in 2009 and 2012, and the Institute was recognized as a national award winner in 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, and 2012 by the U.S. EPA Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program Champion.  Dr. Green is a Certified Crop Advisor, an NRCS-certified Technical Service Provider, a member of the U.S. EPA Pesticide Policy Dialogue Committee, and serves as vice president of the Entomological Foundation. He holds a Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Massachusetts.

Dr. John E. Hamer, Venture Partner, Burrill & Company

Dr. Hamer’s career spans more than three decades of research, senior management, and investment experience in the life sciences. Most recently he spent six years with Burrill & Company, a leading life sciences merchant bank with activities in venture capital, merchant banking, and media. Dr. Hamer was Managing Director and General Partner in several Burrill funds and help to raise and invest over $500 million across three funds, including funds based in Latin America and Asia. Prior to joining Burrill & Company, Dr. Hamer was the CSO and later CEO of Paradigm Genetics Inc., a leading genomics and ag-biotechnology company that completed its IPO on NASDAQ in 2000 and was later acquired by Monsanto.

Dr. Hamer received his Ph. D. in Microbiology from the University of California at Davis and was a Visiting Scientist in Dupont’s Central Research & Development Group. He later joined Purdue University and rose to the rank of full Professor and was the recipient of several national awards including the David Lucille Packard Award and The National Science Foundation Presidential Faculty Fellowship. At Purdue, Dr. Hamer’s research focused on crop diseases, where his lab pioneered molecular approaches to disease management and control and worked with numerous international agencies in China, The Phillipines, and South America. Dr. Hamer is a passionate believer in the opportunity that is emerging in the agricultural value chain in food, health, energy, materials, and chemicals.

Dr. Steven Leath, President, Iowa State University

Dr. Leath became the fifteenth president of Iowa State University (ISU) in January 2012. Trained as a plant scientist, Dr. Leath served at three universities in teaching, research, and economic development posts en route to the ISU presidency. From 2007 until his appointment at ISU, he served as vice president of research and sponsored programs for the University of North Carolina system. In the last year, he also served as interim vice president for academic planning for the 16-campus system. He began his career in 1985 at North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Science, where he progressed through the plant pathology faculty ranks conducting research on disease resistance in grains, primarily wheat and oats, in the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. He was named research leader to the unit in 1998, shortly before beginning a stint as the USDA-Agricultural Research Service’s acting national program leader for grain crops. He returned to NC State in 2001 as a professor and assistant director of the North Carolina Agricultural Research Service. He rose to be director and associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 2005. He was also the interim assistant vice chancellor for research prior to his appointment at the University of North Carolina. Dr. Leath holds a bachelor’s degree in plant science from Pennsylvania State University, a master’s degree in the field from the University of Delaware, and a doctorate in plant pathology from the University of Illinois.

Mr. David Miller, Director of Research and Commodity Services, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation

Mr. Miller is director of research and commodity services for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF). In this position, he coordinates the research programs of the Iowa Farm Bureau and the various commodity services offered by the Federation. He provides economic analysis of agricultural issues and is a primary liaison for the Federation with state and national commodity organizations. Mr. Miller has served on several state, regional, and national boards or committees including the National Institute of Animal Agriculture, the Extension Section of the American Agricultural Economics Association, the U.S. Meat Export Federation, the Offset Committee of the Chicago Climate Exchange, The Midwest Governor’s Association Greenhouse Gas Accord committee, and the Iowa Climate Change Advisory Council. He joined IFBF in April 1998 as director of commodity services. Prior to IFBF, Mr. Miller served as a commodity policy specialist for the American Farm Bureau. As the commodity specialist, he worked on agricultural policy issues for dairy, livestock, and the grain industry. He is also active in production agriculture. In 2003, he began active ownership and operation of a 630-acre grain farm in southern Iowa. Primary crops on the farm are corn and soybeans. Mr. Miller grew up on a dairy and grain farm in Indiana with 1,000 acres of crops and 150 dairy cows  which he ran in partnership with his father from 1971 to1984.

Mr. Steve Reeves, Vice President, Bank of Fayette County

Mr. Reeves was raised and still lives on a multi-generation cattle farm in Fayette County, Tennessee. After receiving a B.S. in Agriculture from the University of Tennessee, he spent four years managing a local COOP. In 1990, he started to work as an agricultural lender for a local community bank. After completing a Masters in Banking from Louisiana State University, he was recruited by another local community bank, Bank of Fayette County, to start an agriculture program.  He is a certified F.S.A. lender and works with farmers on a daily basis. He also serves as a Fayette County Commissioner and sits on several agriculture committees. He is active in church work, serving as a Sunday School teacher and Deacon.  He and his wife Jeana of 26 years have two children, Shelby and Grace.

Mr. Ken Root, Root Communications

Mr. Ken Root is one of America’s most recognized farm news broadcasters. He has a 35 year history of covering Agribusiness news across the United States and around the world. He traveled with U.S. Agriculture Secretaries to Asia, South America, Europe, and the Middle East. He also accompanied Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey, to China in 2008. Mr. Root has a broad understanding of agricultural markets and has reported extensively on crops and livestock as well as rural economic development programs in Iowa. He was a finalist in the New York Film Festival for a documentary on Russian agriculture and has won two Oscars in Agriculture for producing the outstanding stories of the year in 1983 and 2008. He received the industry’s highest honor by being named Farm Broadcaster of the Year in 2009 by the National Association of Farm Broadcasting.

Dr. Dale Shaner, Plant Physiologist, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service

Dr. Shaner was reared on a farm in west central Illinois. He received a B.S. in botany from DePauw University in 1970, an M.S. in plant ecology from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 1972, and a Ph.D. in plant physiology from the University of Illinois, Urbana, in 1976. Dr. Shaner began his weed science research when he was an assistant professor of weed science at the University of California, Riverside, from 1976 to 1979. After leaving Riverside, he managed research in herbicides and agricultural biotechnology at the Agricultural Research Center in Princeton, N.J., for American Cyanamid and then for BASF from 1979 to 2001. He was instrumental in discovering the mode of action of the imidazolinones and in developing Imidazolinone-resistant crops. In 2001 Dr. Shaner joined the Water Management Unit of USDA-ARS in Fort Collins, Colorado, where he conducts research on weed management under deficit irrigation. He helped establish the intercompany Herbicide Resistance Action Committee (HRAC) and was the chairman of HRAC from 1998 to 2001. Dr. Shaner has been active in herbicide resistance management for ALS inhibitors (imidazolinones, sulfonylureas, etc.) and glyphosate. He developed a leaf disc assay for early detection of glyphosate resistance and has written several reviews on the impact of glyphosate-resistant crops on selecting resistant weeds and on the mechanisms of resistance to glyphosate.

Dr. Kitty Smith, Vice President, American Farmland Trust

Dr. Katherine “Kitty” Smith is Vice President of Programs & Chief Economist for American Farmland Trust, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving farmland for a productive future. Prior to joining American Farmland Trust, Smith served as Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS), which provides high quality, objective, peer-reviewed research.

Dr. Smith has served on several United Nations Expert Panels and chaired the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Joint Working Party on Agriculture and Environment. Her work has been published in books and scholarly journals throughout her career. She is a fellow of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association and a recipient of that association’s Quality in Communications Award. While working at ERS, she was also awarded the Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executives in 2001. Dr. Smith earned her B.S. with an emphasis in the biological sciences and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in agricultural and resource economics from the University of Maryland.

Dr. John Soteres, Chair, Herbicide Resistance Action Committee

Dr. Soteres is the the Scientific Affairs Global Weed Resistance Management Lead at Monsanto Company, St. Louis, Missouri and current Chairman of the Global Herbicide Resistance Action Committee (HRAC). Within Monsanto, his responsibilities include the development and implementation of strategies and stewardship programs for managing herbicide resistance globally. He is also responsible for external collaborations with key academics to further the science relative to the causes of resistance and elucidation of best practices to manage resistance.

Dr. Soteres received his B.S. in Biology from the University of Alabama in 1975, a M.S. in Agronomy (Soil Microbiology/Weed Science) from Auburn University in 1978, and a Ph.D. in Agronomy (Weed Science) from Oklahoma State University in 1981. He joined Monsanto in 1981, starting his career as a field Product Development Representative and progressing through a variety of technical management roles during his 30+ year career in the agchemical/ agbiotech industry.

Dr. Paul Thompson, W. K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics, Michigan State University

Dr. Paul B. Thompson holds the W. K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. He formerly held positions in philosophy at Texas A&M University and Purdue University. His research has centered on ethical and philosophical questions associated with agriculture and food, especially concerning the guidance and development of agricultural technoscience. This research focus has led him to undertake a series of projects on the application of recombinant DNA techniques to agricultural crops and food animals. Dr. Thompson published the first booklength philosophical treatment of agricultural biotechnology in 1997 and has traveled the world speaking on the subject, delivering invited addresses in Egypt, Thailand, Taiwan, Mexico, Israel, and Jamaica, as well as a number of European countries. In addition to philosophical outlets, his work on biotechnology has appeared in technical journals including Plant Physiology, The Journal of Animal Science, Bioscience, and Cahiers d’Economie et Sociologie Rurales. He serves on the United States National Research Council’s Agricultural Biotechnology Advisory Council and on the Science and Industry Advisory Committee for Genome Canada. Dr. Thompson’s new work focuses on nanotechnology in the agrifood system.

In addition to his research on biotechnology, Dr. Thompson has published extensively on the environmental and social significance of agriculture. His 1992 book (with four coauthors) on U.S. agricultural policy, Sacred Cows and Hot Potatoes, was used as a textbook for U.S. Congressional agriculture staff and won the American Agricultural Economics Association Award for Excellence in Communication. He has also published a number of volumes and papers on the philosophical and cultural significance of farming, notably The Spirit of the Soil: Agriculture and Environmental Ethics (1995) and The Agrarian Roots of Pragmatism (2000). Dr. Thompson completed his Ph.D. studies on the philosophy of technology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook under the guidance of Don Ihde. He is married, has two grown children, and enjoys nature walks as well as playing the guitar.

Dr. Michael Walsh, Research Associate Professor of the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative, University of Western Australia

Dr. Walsh is a senior member of the Australian Herbicide Resistance Initiative, where his research role is focused on the development and evaluation of alternate weed control techniques. He has a B.Sc. from the University of Western Australia, M.Sc. from LaTrobe University in Melbourne, and a Ph.D. from the University of Wyoming. Dr. Walsh has two decades of experience in the management of herbicide-resistant weed populations. Over this period Dr. Walsh has driven the research and development of harvest weed seed control systems. Currently he is leading the research on the development of the Harrington Seed Destructor. Dr. Walsh grew up on a dryland cropping farm and his early experience as a research agronomist with the Victorian state department of agriculture has developed in him a strong focus on applied research aimed at overcoming production constraints.

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