Liquid Feed


Sept. 10-12, 2024 | Radisson Hotel Salt Lake City Downtown
Salt Lake City, Utah


Derek W. Bailey


Dr. Derek Bailey is the Director of Research and Outreach at Deep Well Ranch in Prescott, Arizona as well as Professor Emeritus of Range Science at New Mexico State University (NMSU). Bailey was a professor at NMSU for 19 years and conducted research in grazing behavior, precision livestock management, rangeland cattle and sheep production, grazing management and animal welfare. In addition, he taught courses in rangeland management, research methods, livestock handling and vegetation monitoring. His current research interests are precision livestock management, artificial intelligence in livestock agriculture and rangeland management. Derek grew up on a cattle ranch in southern Colorado. He received his PhD in Range Science and his MS and BS degrees in Animal Science at Colorado State University. Before to coming to NMSU, Derek worked as a researcher for Montana State University and USDA-ARS in Oklahoma. He also was a range management consultant in Nevada and an extension agent in Arizona.

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. 

Kristen Ireland


“The success of a business depends on the success of its employees.” – Kristen Ireland

As a consultant and coach, Kristen focuses on understanding the business and ensuring it achieves its goals by aligning the culture, leadership, people, and processes with business strategies. A thoughtful, innovative, and strategic problem solver, she specializes in compassionately influencing behaviors and providing simple solutions tailored to your needs. Kristen has more than 20 years of experience consulting and coaching executives, leaders and managers. In addition to her work experience, she earned both a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas. Kristen received her Change Practitioner certification from PROSCI in 2017.

Nathan Kurfman


Nathan Kurfman is a Senior Commodity Buyer for the Alltech Feed and Premix Division. He manages the corn, soybean meal, rendered, and liquid ingredient positions for Ridley Block Operations and Hubbard Feeds. He has worked in procurement roles for commercial feed production for the past 12 years. Prior to joining Alltech in 2018, he held a similar position with ADM Animal Nutrition. He was raised on a family farm outside of Quincy, IL growing corn, soybeans, hay, beef cattle, and pigs. He is a graduate of University of Illinois, receiving his BS in Crop Sciences and minoring in Animal Sciences. After graduation, he spent two years with an agricultural service company then attended Southern Illinois University to obtain a MS in Agribusiness Economics.

Nathan and his wife, Nina, live in Lexington, KY and stay busy chasing after their daughter Penelope and son Dominic. They are sports-loving kids, and many miles and hours are devoted to soccer, swimming, baseball, golf, and basketball. In his spare time Nathan enjoys playing golf and staying active.

David R. Legates

Dr. David R. Legates, received B.A., and M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Delaware. He is a climatologist who specializes in precipitation and climate change as well as spatial statistics. Upon receiving his Ph.D., Legates became a Professor at the University of Oklahoma. He later moved to Louisiana State University and subsequently returned to the University of Delaware. Recently, he was on leave to the federal government where he served as the Assistant Deputy Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction and was detailed to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as the Executive Director of the United States Global Change Research Program. He has been invited to speak to the US Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works on three separate occasions. He also participated in the historic joint USA-USSR protocol for the exchange of climate information. He is now Professor Emeritus from the University of Delaware and works for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.


Matt Makens


Matt Makens has presented thousands of weather forecasts and outlooks to dozens of industries since the 1990s. With a specific focus, Matt formed Makens Weather, LLC in 2016 and grew quickly by providing actionable weather and climate information, clearly communicated. The primary focus is on long-term seasonal forecasts and short-term weather hazards for the agricultural industry. Makens Weather serves global clients from Australia to Canada and throughout the United States - notably CattleFax and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Makens grew up outside of Castle Rock, Colorado, on a small acreage where he competed annually in the Douglas County Fair and Rodeo and was a livestock judging team member. Matt attended The University of Kansas - degreed in Atmospheric Science.

Jonathan Martin


Jonathan Martin serves as Director of Economics and Market Analytics for Clean Fuels Alliance America, responsible for monitoring market data and current events to provide in-depth market intelligence and forecasts on the direction of the market. Jonathan leads a team focused on modeling and forecasting the direction of liquid fuels, energy markets, and feedstock markets. Jonathan also supports state and federal affairs staff on economic inquiries and fundamentals research.

Prior to joining Clean Fuels Alliance America, Jonathan was an Economist at Marathon Petroleum Corporation, where he led economic and market analyses and forecasts in the oil and gas market. Jonathan has also worked both in process engineering and environmental compliance between multiple refineries within Marathon’s portfolio. He has a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

Erin Mies


“My interest in finding simplicity drives my work.” – Erin Mies

Erin believes that businesses do not need more complicated processes. Instead, they need help uncovering their root issues and finding ways to address them. Erin has earned a reputation for understanding a business’ needs and finding creative, practical solutions that allow them to move forward. Her approach is both straightforward and respectful, providing guidance and considerations to improve leadership effectiveness.Erin’s 15 years of experience has involved coaching and consulting executives, leaders and managers in food and agricultural industries, in both manufacturing and corporate environments. She also specializes in talent acquisition and international HR. In addition to her professional experience, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Music from Wittenberg University, and a Master of Human Resources and Industrial Relations from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Erin is certified through the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) as a Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP).

Danielle Nelson



Danielle Nelson serves as a director of government affairs for the Torrey Advisory Group. Prior to joining the firm, Danielle served as director of public policy at the Agricultural Retailers Association where she worked to advance the interests of retailers in the seed, nutrient, crop input, feed, equipment, and technology fields at the federal level. She previously held various roles at the National Pork Producers Council, most recently as the director of congressional relations, where she represented the U.S. pork industry on Capitol Hill during the 2018 farm bill and managed the day-to-day responsibilities of a large-scale political action committee. Additionally, she served as a legislative assistant in the U.S. House of Representatives handling agriculture, finance, foreign affairs, tax, and trade issues for Rep. Bob Gibbs.

Stephen Smith


Dr. Stephen B. Smith is a Regents Professor and Senior Faculty Fellow in the Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University. He received a B.S. in Biology from California State College, Bakersfield in 1975; a Ph.D. in Metabolic Physiology from the University of California, Davis, in 1980; and was a postdoctoral research associate and a Research Chemist at the USDA-ARS Meat Animal Research Center at Clay Center, NE. Since arriving at Texas A&M University in 1983 and has worked to improve the quality and healthfulness of beef. He was the first to document that, whereas bovine subcutaneous adipose tissue uses acetate as its primary substrate for fatty acid synthesis, glucose is the primary precursor for fatty acid synthesis in marbling. Dr. Smith’s research has been vital for countries wishing to produce high-quality, healthful beef. His research also has established that corn-based feedlot diets are essential for optimizing the healthfulness of marbling adipose tissue by increasing the concentration of oleic acid. Dr. Smith also is internationally respected for another important, seminal contribution, wherein he documented the effects of high-oleic acid ground beef on cholesterol metabolism in men and women. Dr. Smith is the only animal scientist in the world who has published human trials that documented the effects of ground beef on risk factors for coronary vascular disease. Dr. Smith’s research program directly supports Texas, U.S., and international beef cattle feedlot industries. 

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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Contact Us

SARAH NOVAK    (703) 558-3574     SNOVAK@AFIA.ORG

Contact Sarah, chief operating officer, for information on membership opportunities.

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

Contact Paul, director of quality, animal food safety and education, for any questions regarding conference agenda and event expectations.


Contact Daisy, manager of meetings and events, for any questions regarding registration, payment, and invoicing.


Contact Lynette, manager of meetings and sponsorships, for any questions regarding sponsorships, agenda, and event expectations.