Liquid Feed


Sept. 12-14, 2023, Hyatt Regency Louisville | Louisville, KY


Randy Blach


Randy Blach has been with CattleFax since 1981, originally serving as director of market analysis for 15 years until he was promoted to CEO in January of 2001, a role that he continues to serve in today. During his tenure, the company has enjoyed significant growth and has continued to lead the industry with timely market information, in-depth analysis and forecasts on cattle, protein and grain markets in the United States and globally. Blach has been a keynote speaker at thousands of cattle, beef and related business meetings, seminars and conventions. He graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in animal science. Blach received the Honor Alumni award from its College of Agricultural Sciences in 2004 and the Livestock Leader Award in 2011. In 2016, he was awarded the Industry Leadership Award through the Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame.

John Cropley


John Cropley works as a senior commodity analyst at ED&F Man Liquid Products LLC. Based in New Orleans, he directs the company’s research on NAFTA sugar, molasses and other liquid products. Prior to joining ED&F Man, Cropley worked on a range of projects in the sugar and biofuels sectors around the world for the London-based consultancy LMC International. Before that, he worked for the British Government’s Department for International Development. Cropley holds a master’s degree in agricultural development from the University of London and a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Wales. 

Ellen Dierenfeld


Ellen Dierenfeld serves as Lead Specialist, Sustainable Feed Innovations within World Wildlife Fund’s Sustainable Livestock and Feed Systems group, as part of the larger Food & Freshwater team.  Raised in rural Iowa, she received her undergraduate education in Animal Science from Iowa State University, and graduate degrees from Cornell University with a focus in Animal Nutrition.  After spending much of her career heading applied nutrition/feeding management programs, laboratory and field studies with wildlife species through the Wildlife Conservation Society (Bronx Zoo) and St. Louis zoos, she joined the R&D team at Novus International as Manager for their Africa program to evaluate product effects in livestock fed available feed ingredients in local environments.  With a focus on sustainable global ag initiatives, she continues to investigate utilization of locally available and sustainable feed ingredients for a variety of species both in the US and abroad. 

Tara Vander Dussen


Tara Vander Dussen is a dynamic and passionate individual hailing from the beautiful state of New Mexico. As a fifth-generation dairy farmer, she carries on a proud family tradition rooted in the land. While her husband, Daniel, manages the day-to-day operations of his family's dairy farm, Vander Dussen has carved out her own niche as an environmental consultant, speaker, online agriculture advocate and podcaster. 

As a Co-Founder of Elevate Ag, an online course that empowers farmers and ranchers with the tools they need to effectively share their agricultural stories and grow their businesses, Vander Dussen helps cultivate a network of informed and engaged individuals who understand the importance of a thriving agricultural industry. In addition to her entrepreneurial endeavors, Tara co-hosts the popular Discover Ag docuseries and podcast. Through captivating conversations, this platform delves into the intricacies of the food system, fostering a deeper connection between consumers and the hands that feed us.

Courtney Dyer


Courtney Dyer joined the Priefert team in the fall of 2008.  She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science from Southern Arkansas University and a Masters of Reproductive Physiology from the University of Missouri. Today, she applies her analytical approach and critical thinking skills to curating the Priefert brand in her current role as their Director of Marketing. At its core, her job is to protect and promote the Priefert brand name while also educating consumers about their product offerings. Courtney has a passion for communicating and a strong love of the agricultural industry, making her a frequent contributor of articles to a variety of ag publications. She and her husband Wes are the proud parents of daughter Addison and are excited to be welcoming a baby boy to their family this fall.

Francine Henry


Francine Henry, Ph.D., is an assistant professor and beef extension specialist in the department of animal and dairy science at the University of Georgia, Tifton campus. She is originally from Brazil where she received a bachelor’s degree in animal science from the Sao Paulo State University. Henry obtained her masters and doctorate degrees from the University of Florida, both in beef cattle nutrition and also performed a post-doctoral program at Texas Tech University before joining UGA in 2021. Henry’s appointment at UGA is split at 80% extension and 20% research work. Part of her duties in the extension role involves supervising the Tifton Bull and Heifer Evaluation and Reproductive Development programs. Her applied research program involves investigating supplementation strategies, use of byproducts and technologies to improve forage digestibility and decrease the carbon footprint of beef cattle production systems. The research conducted during Henry’s academic career, with collaborations with other universities, have generated over 30 peer-reviewed publications and 70 abstracts presented at scientific meetings. She is married to Dr. Darren Henry and they have a four-year-old daughter, Marianna Louise, and an 11-month old son, Hewey Amos.

Matt Makens

Matt Makens formed Makens Weather, LLC in 2016 and quickly grew his business by providing actionable weather and climate information specifically geared toward clients’ needs. Makens' primary focus is on global circulations and long-term climate forecasts as well as short-term weather hazards for the agricultural industry. He grew up in Colorado on a small acreage where he competed annually in the local fair with a variety of animals and was a member of the livestock judging team. His mom had a hard time keeping Matt inside as he was always wandering on the land and watching the weather. Matt graduted from the University of Kansas with a degree in atmospheric science. After leaving college with more of a climate modeling and engineering background than a broadcasting one, he almost by accident landed in broadcast meteorology. Makens worked in broadcast news markets across the country for nearly 20 years while also consulting with energy and insurance companies, public works departments and forecasting for agricultural radio stations. He and his wife Hillary both work for the agricultural industry and raise their two children in Colorado.

Jon Schoonmaker


Jon Schoonmaker, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the department of animal sciences at Purdue University. Schoonmaker, originally from Wisconsin, received his bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, master's and doctorate degrees in beef cattle nutrition and management from The Ohio State University and spent 3 years at Iowa State University working on a post-doctorate focusing on genetics of fatty acid composition of beef and milk. The goal of Schoonmaker’s research is to create knowledge that will improve efficiency of growth for beef cattle and animals through nutritional strategies that regulate gastrointestinal tract barrier function. Schoonmaker has led investigations to evaluate the use of feeds, nutrients and feed additives on ruminal fiber digestibility, acid-base status, nutrient availability, immune status and the translational potential for beef cattle feeding management. 

Nevil Speer


Nevil Speer, Ph.D., works as an industry consultant based in Bowling Green, Kentucky. He has experience in both academia and private industry and has worked within the livestock and food industry across multiple fronts. His career includes working with several start-ups along with various service and consultation projects spanning a wide variety of topics. In addition, he has authored several influential industry white papers and currently serves as a regular contributor to Drovers. Speer holds a doctorate degree in Animal Sciences from Colorado State University and an MBA from Western Kentucky University.

Samantha Werth


Samantha Werth, Ph.D., serves a dual role as Senior Director of Sustainability at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and Executive Director of the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB). In this role, Dr. Werth’s primary focus is on building collaborative partnerships to support both NCBA and USRSB sustainability goals and working to demonstrate the role of beef as an essential part of a sustainable food system. An animal biologist by training, Dr. Werth completed her undergraduate, masters and doctoral studies at the University of California, Davis. Her doctoral studies focused on sustainable beef production with an emphasis on nutritional studies with beef cattle to modelling various aspects of sustainable beef production.

Leah Wilkinson


Leah Wilkinson is the American Feed Industry Association’s vice president of public policy and education. Wilkinson joined AFIA in 2010. She interacts with state legislatures, feed regulatory agencies in the western U.S., the Association of American Feed Control Officials and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Wilkinson also works with the AFIA Feed Regulatory, Ingredient Approval and Definition and Aquaculture Committees and serves as the chair of the International Feed Industry Federation’s Regulatory and International Cooperation for Convergence of Technical Requirements for the Assessment of Feed Ingredients Steering Committees  Growing up on a Minnesota swine farm, and as a graduate in swine production from the University of Minnesota, Wilkinson is very familiar with animal agriculture. She has also worked for the National Pork Producers Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, both in Washington, D.C. Before joining AFIA, Wilkinson served as the director of policy and industry relations for ViaGen, Inc. in Austin, Texas.  

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KIM ATKINS    (703) 558-3566     KATKINS@AFIA.ORG

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PAUL DAVIS, PH.D.     (703) 650-0146    PDAVIS@AFIA.ORG

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