From Farm to Fork to Fuel:  What’s the Future?

Courtney Lawrenson, Vice President – Oils and Energy for Ag Processing Inc. 

Based in Omaha, Nebraska, Lawrenson oversees AGP’s commercial & supply chain activities across AGP’s four soybean oil refineries, three biodiesel plants and related co-products.  AGP is one of the largest integrated biodiesel producers in the U.S. and is the largest soybean oil refiner west of the Mississippi.  Courtney has worked in the Natural Gas and Renewable Fuels Industry for over 20 years handling marketing of feedstock, fuel, co-products and tolling agreements.  She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Nebraska-Omaha with a focus on Marketing.  Courtney is past Treasurer of the Iowa Biodiesel Board and has served on the Education Committee for the NIOP for the last four years.  Courtney will address the “fuel” part of the What’s The Future panel.

Jay Myers, Myers Farms, former USB Board Member

Jay Myers farms soybean and corn seed and wheat on his farm in Colfax, North Dakota, and just completed his 9th year on the United Soybean Board. He also provides agronomy services outside of farming. In addition, Myers is involved in the North Dakota Soybean Council, North Dakota Soybean Growers Association, Richland County Crop Improvement Board and is a board member of the new North Dakota soybean processors plant and biodiesel refinery. Myers believes increasing the value of soybeans is an issue facing our industry and that keeping up with supply and demand is an opportunity.

Brian Owens, Vice President of Product and Risk Management – Stratas Foods 

Brian is Margaret’s husband, and Cole and Handley’s father.  Brian holds an undergraduate degree from Auburn University and a Master’s degree from Albany State University.  Brian has over 30 years of experience both domestically and internationally on trading agriculture commodities, supply chains and procurement activities.  Currently, Brian is the Vice-President of Procurement and Risk Management for Stratas Foods.  Also, Brian serves as the 1st Vice-President of both the American Fats and Oils Association and National Institute of Oilseed Products. In his spare time Brian officiates high school wrestling and lacrosse, and enjoys fishing and playing golf.

Dave Reeble, CEO & Founder of Moving Parts LLC

Dave is the founder and president of Moving Parts, L.L.C. He grew up in Illinois, and graduated from Millikin University. During his 37 years of experience working in the commodity food business, he has worked in grain and grain products, trading, refined vegetable oils, risk management and procurement of commodity products for ADM, Pillsbury, AGP and ConAgra Foods.

Ask the Tough Questions about Arbitration, Get Straight Answers


Jeffrey T. Zaino, Esq. is the Vice President of the Commercial Division of the American Arbitration Association in New York. He oversees administration of the large, complex commercial caseload, user outreach, and panel of commercial neutrals in New York. He joined the Association in 1990. Mr. Zaino is dedicated to promoting ADR methods and services.

His professional affiliations include the American Bar Association (Dispute Resolution and Business Law Sections), Connecticut Bar Association, District of Columbia Bar Association, New York State Bar Association (Dispute Resolution Section – Executive Committee Member and Chair of the Blog Committee; Commercial & Federal Litigation Section, Chair of the Arbitration and ADR Committee), New York City Bar Association (Member of the Arbitration Committee and Affiliate Member of the ADR Committee), Board of Advisors of the Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution, New York Law School ADR Advisory Committee, American Bankruptcy Institute, and Westchester County Bar Association.

He has also written and published extensively on the topics of election reform and ADR, including several podcasts with the ABA, TalksOnLaw, and Corporate Counsel Business, and has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, and Bloomberg to discuss national election reform efforts and the Help America Vote Act.  He was deemed a 2018 Alternative Dispute Resolution Champion by the National Law Journal and received awards for his ADR work from the National Academy of Arbitrators, Region 2 and Long Island Labor and Employment Relations Association.


Show Me the Money:  Banking in the Agriculture Expansion & Maintaining Production of Ag Products

Steve Nicholson, Rabobank (St. Louis) 

Stephen Nicholson is a grain & oilseed analyst based in St. Louis, Missouri.

Stephen has more than thirty years of experience in cash grain markets, hedging, commodity/ingredient procurement, commodity risk management and commodity analysis. Prior to joining Rabobank, Nicholson was most recently category manager and chief economist with International Food Products. From 2001 to 2007, he was a senior economist and oilseed analyst with Doane Agricultural Services in St. Louis.


Transportation Trends (focus on trucking) . . . What are the Trends Telling Us?

Kim Beck — Vice President, Benefits Consulting, Cottingham & Butler Employee Benefits Services

Kim specializes in benefit program design and re-structuring, cost reduction strategies, compliance services, onboarding/enrollment technology and health & wellness management solutions; specific to the transportation industry. 

She has 30 years of insurance and benefit industry experience, including 19 years at Cottingham & Butler working almost exclusively with trucking and transportation related companies. During this time, she facilitated the development of what is now a nationally recognized annual trucking specific benchmark report on compensation and benefits within the trucking industry. 

With her industry expertise and over a decade of data from this annual survey, her team has also developed analytic tools and deeper level benchmarking resources to assist trucking companies with recruiting, retention, strategies for containing costs and making important benefit program decisions each year. 


Specializes in all aspects of Employee Benefits and Wellness Programs; specific to the transportation industry 


Active member of ATA (American Trucking Association), TCA (Truckload Carriers Association) and NTTC (National Tank Truck Carriers) and regularly called upon to speak or present at their annual conferences or webinars 

 Involved in dozens of state trucking associations and a regular presenter at TCA Benchmark Group meetings and Best Practice Group events 

Current State and Federal Policy and the Future of Biofuels

Kurt Kovarik – Vice President of Federal Affairs

As Vice President of Federal Affairs, Kurt leads the Clean Fuels Alliance America (CFAA) (formerly the National Biodiesel Board) members in advocating federal policies that support the industry’s growth. Since joining organization, Kurt has helped the industry secure a long-term extension of the biodiesel tax incentive, preserve important protections against unfair international trade, and ensure the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard program. Kurt continues to organize the industry’s advocacy for equitable tax, infrastructure, and environmental policies.

Prior to joining the organization, Kurt worked for more than 20 years in the office of Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), leading efforts on the Renewable Fuel Standard, the biodiesel tax incentive, and increased use of biofuels. An Iowa native, Kurt graduated from Luther College with a degree in political science.


Food Safety Regulation Update: From Local to Global: Food Policy Expectations in 2022 and beyond


Kailee Tkacz Buller Biography


Kailee Tkacz Buller is the President of the Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils, the Washington, D.C. based national trade association representing the edible fats and oils industry.


Prior to ISEO, Tkacz Buller has served various leadership roles at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) serving as the Chief of Staff to Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky where she helped drive transformational change and operational efficiencies in human resources, budget, information technology, contracting, and customer service across the 100,000 employee Department with an annual budget of $200 Billion.


She played pivotal roles in the 2018 Farm Bill negotiations and implementation, renewable fuel policy, and led strategy on COVID-19. She served as the Chief of Staff of the Research, Education, and Economics Department as well as a Policy and Congressional Advisor to Secretary Sonny Perdue. Prior to her time at USDA Tkacz Buller served in a variety of legislative and regulatory leadership roles at the Corn Refiners Association, SNAC International, and the National Grocers Association.


She holds a Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential from the American Society of Association Executives and is the Treasurer of the Food Beverage Issue Alliance a DC based group of 58 national food and beverage trade associations.  Kailee holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University at Buffalo and resides in Alexandria, VA with her husband, son, and 2 cats.


Carbon Reduction Initiatives/Credits/Zero Carbon with Emphasis on How Food Companies Can Get in The Mix 


Kevin Hershner has been focused on renewable energy markets since 2013.  During that time he has focused on liquid renewable fuels, feedstocks for renewable fuel production, and the associated offset and crediting market schema which support the world’s transition to low carbon sustainability.

His current focus is on markets and opportunities developing at the intersection of low carbon project development and net zero carbon pledges from the corporate sector.  He has recently launched Tributary Strategy to serve the needs of this emerging market sector.  Prior to launching Tributary Strategy in January of 2022, he served as Senior Vice President for Conestoga Energy.  He held that position since joining Conestoga through the acquisition of VicNRG LLC in 2017.  His duties included oversight of the company’s commercial activities within numerous markets such as biomass based diesel, petroleum fuels, low carbon feedstocks and environmental credits.

Additionally, Kevin contributed as a member of the Conestoga executive team on risk management and business development projects such as Carbon Sequestration for the company’s ethanol plants in Southwest Kansas.  Prior to joining VicNRG LLC, Kevin worked in the private investment management and banking industries.  Kevin received his undergraduate degree from Pennsylvania State University.