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National Conference for Food and Agribusiness


Program Overview

The National Conference for Food and Agribusiness brings together professionals from across the agri-food system to gain industry and business insights, network, and learn from one another. Hosted by Purdue University's Center for Food and Agricultural Business, the 2017 conference featured the Large Commercial Producer Project

The Large Commercial Producer Project is built around a survey of agricultural producers themselves in an effort to understand their preferences when interacting with agricultural salespeople, retailers, lenders and manufacturers. The insights gained can help agricultural and food businesses shape their organizations and customer interactions for optimal success.

The project, now in its sixth iteration, focuses on U.S.producers of corn/soybeans, wheat/barley, cotton, fruit/nuts/vegetables, dairy, hogs and cattle. This year's study also expands into procurement.

Program Content

Producer Strategies
Faculty Expert: Allan Gray

Learn how producers choose to win in the market place. Study their business strategies and which factors drive those strategies, from price/marketing, production and people to land, equipment and input costs. Discover the amount of time farmers spend on decision-making based on their strateiges. These insights help agribusiness professionals understand how they can provide the right mix of products and services in a customer's buying process.

Information and Salesperson Preferences
Faculty Experts: Scott Downey and Dave Downey

Gain a deeper understanding of farmer preferences when it comes to their information sources. Learn what sources are the most common and trusted, and what methods they prefer when receiving information. This portion of the research identifies how farmers view information sources and what role those play in the decision-making processes. The provided farmer perspectives enable agribusinesses to identify how they allocate their resources and people and how they craft their messaging.

Procurement Processes
Faculty Experts: Michael Boehlje

Explore the steps farmers take to procure farm inputs and discover their procurement perception. Are producers analytical in their procurement processes to make buying decisions? Or are they more intuitive? The study investigates how diligent farmers are in comparing suppliers, how analytical they are in decision-making, and how frequently they use written bid sheets. The results help conference attendees understand:

  • Customer priorities on procurement lists.
  • Terms of engagement and how to address them with customers.
  • How to create more value with customers.
  • Ways to focus discussions with customers on more than just price (e.g. performance)

Buying Preferences
Faculty Expert: Michael Gunderson

Conference participants will acquire deeper insight into farmer buying behavior from this portion of the survey. It investigates the impact of factors that include price, quality of service and relationship/trust on farmer preferences and how these convert to loyalty. Buying preferences are the primary highlight of the conference. Participants will:

  • Understand where the potential tradeoffs might be for their customers.
  • Learn to tailor sales approaches to segments of farmers to improve success rates.
  • Identify where salespeople can be most effective.
  • Consider opportunities for more cross-selling within their product and service offerings.

Risk Management
Faculty Experts: Nicole Widmar and Nathan Thompson

This portion of the study looks at general farmer attitudes about the various risks they face in a variety of areas, such as production, marketing, financial, legal and human. Conference participants will understand the areas of risk that producers find most important when managing the farm business.

This information is beneficial to agribusiness professionals because it helps them to better understand their customers and customer attitudes toward the many risks they face. In turn, agribusiness can tailor their products and services to better serve their farm customers.



Program Dates

2018 TBD


Purdue University
West Lafayette, Ind.

Registration Fee

2018 TBD

Educational Credit

You can earn CEU and CCA credit at this program.

Registration fees include all program materials, refreshments and some meals. Registrations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Once the program is full, names will be added to a waiting list in the order in which they are received. Registration fees are due upon receipt of registration. Read the cancellation policy.

  "The National Conference for Food and Agribusiness provides broad insight into agricultural producers' needs, preferences and priorities, as well as marketplace trends. Benefits beyond research include access to the Center for Food and Agricultural Business economists and team. Networking with conference participants provides added value in contextualizing lessons through an applied lens focused on agriculture."  

Michael Stolp

Senior Vice President, Customer and Employee Education
Senior Family Business Advisor
Northwest Farm Credit Services