Agricultural commodity producers from across the state will gather for the 2011 Illinois Commodity Conference on Tuesday, November 22 at the DoubleTree Hotel and Conference Center in Bloomington, Ill. The one-day event – centered on the theme “Gateway to the Future” ­– begins with registration at 7:30 a.m., which is followed by networking at 9:00 a.m. The first speaker starts at 9:55 a.m., and the entire program ends at approximately 2:30 p.m.

Six Illinois commodity groups are hosting the conference, including the Illinois Beef Association (IBA), Illinois Corn Growers Association (ICGA), Illinois Milk Producers Association (IMPA), Illinois Pork Producers Association (IPPA), Illinois Soybean Association (ISA) and Illinois Wheat Association (IWA). In addition, three agricultural companies – Monsanto, Syngenta and Pioneer – are serving as major sponsors of the event. Developed to promote leadership and cooperation among these commodity groups, it also serves as a venue for educating producers and enhancing market opportunities.

“The Illinois Commodity Conference provides a valuable opportunity for Illinois farmers to come together to discuss the issues that affect us all,” explained ICGA President Jim Reed. “For that one day, it doesn’t matter what we grow – it’s all about collaborating for the benefit of the entire Illinois ag industry.”

Matt Hughes, ISA board chairman, added that producers will not only benefit from networking with their peers, but they also will learn from three very different speakers: “We’re excited about this year’s presenters. They are from extremely diverse backgrounds, which will help us all look at our operations from new perspectives. Too often, we get caught up in our routines and entrenched in old habits. This conference gives us an opportunity to reflect on those things and re-evaluate the way we do business.”

This year’s scheduled speakers include Roger Cady, Ph.D., Dan Halstrom and David Zach. Cady, Senior Technical Consultant for Elanco, will challenge attendees’ thinking about the term sustainability and what it really means. As Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for the U.S. Meat Export Federation, Halstrom will examine ways that organization is working to put more U.S. meat on tables throughout the world. Zach – one of the very few professional futurists on the planet – will be sharing the importance of looking back when trying to move forward.

Producers interested in attending the 2011 Illinois Commodity Conference may register in advance or at the door. The fee, which includes lunch, is $65 before November 14 and $90 thereafter. Students are eligible to register at a discounted rate of $30.