87th Annual Convention | March 14 – 16, 2021 | Tucson, AZ

NIOP 87th Annual Convention Speakers




Keynote Speaker:  Thomas Mielke, OIL WORLD


Editor and CEO of Oil World, an independent global forecasting service for oilseeds, oils and fats and oilmeals, Thomas Milk will be NIOP’s Tuesday, opening keynote speaker.  He is excited to join us in 2021 after the disappointment of having to cancel in 2020 due to the COVID-19 situation. 

Thomas is the son of founders Siegfried and Anne-Marie Mielke.

Oil World is neither linked to nor financially dependent on any other company which helps to assure objectivity of the analysis and price predictions.  None of the owners nor employees are involved in producing or trading the commodities that are analyzed. No one at Oil World is acting on any futures markets on oilseeds and/or products.

The OIL WORLD WEEKLY as well as the FLASH and all the other OIL WORLD publications are providing  elaborated, unbiased and reliable information and forecasts of the current and prospective world supply, demand and prices for oilseeds, oils, fats and oilmeals for the oilseed, oil and feed industries as well as the trade, organizations, banks and government agencies worldwide.

The team of market analysts in Hamburg, Germany, furthermore supplies information upon individual request also beyond the scope of the regular publications. ISTA Mielke GmbH has an excellent data bank of monthly, quarterly and annual world prices and statistics (with detailed breakdown by country) going back to 1958.

In view of the challenges of the a growing global market you need first-hand information from the world´s leading forecasters of the whole field of approximately 40 commodities, thus benefitting from their experience of 42 years worldwide.

OIL WORLD is in a unique position to reliably forecast supply, demand and prices because it is primary – being the world’s first and only source providing complete world supply and demand analyses and forecasts (annual, quarterly and monthly) for all the 39 commodities of our field;

independent & unbiased – the company being wholly family-owned and neither linked to nor financially dependent on any other company and neither producing nor trading our products;

experienced & reliable – its senior director as well as the editor and most analysts having more than 20 years of experience in this most complex of all commodity fields.


Jim Wiesemeyer

Pro Farmer  to Address the Latest with the Trade Wars and the After Effects of COVID-19

The latest in the “trade wars” will always be a moving topic, now add the effects of COVID-19 on the world markets! The NIOP Convention Committee has found a “pro” to address the topic that affects the businesses of our membership.  Make plans now to come hear from Jim Wiesemeyer at the 2021 NIOP Convention — he graciously rescheduled with NIOP after the cancellation in 2020 due to the Coronavirus.

From his office near Washington, D.C., Jim Wiesemeyer provides members with the latest information on agricultural policy and trade developments as Pro Farmer’s policy analyst. He is also a frequent guest on Farm Journal’s AgriTalk and AgriTalk ATB radio programs and an editor for The Agriculture Letter.

Since 1978, Jim has reported on and interviewed senior government officials, including Presidents Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, as well as USDA Secretaries since Earl Butz. He has traveled extensively in his assignments and is a frequent speaker on farm policy and trade issues.

Jim rejoined Pro Farmer in June 2017, after serving as our Washington consultant for 19 years while at Informa Economics. Before that, Jim was a full-time employee of Pro Farmer, then owned by Oster Communications. Jim has also served as the Washington bureau chief for Futures World News (FWN), formerly owned by Oster Communications.

Preceding his time with Oster Communications, he was Washington editor with Doane’s Agricultural Report and Washington editor and managing editor of the Washington Farmletter.



Thought Leaders for Tuesday Breakout Session:  Transportation

Brandon Mortensen, BNSF Railway 

Doug Adams, Johnsrud Transport, Inc.



Thought Leaders for Tuesday Breakout Session:  Beers, Biofuels and BS

Courtney Lawrenson, Ag Processing, Inc.

Dave Reeble, Moving Parts LLC

Brian Owens, Stratas Foods LLC 

Check out the Quality Speakers from

the NIOP 85th Annual Convention 

85th Annual Convention Speakers:

Keynote Speaker:

Carl Bek-Nielsen

Mr. Carl Bek-Nielsen has been the Chief Executive Director of United Plantations Berhad since January 1, 2013. Mr. Bek-Nielsen served as the Head of Corporate Affairs at United Plantations Bhd since March 1, 2000. He was responsible for the Corporate Affairs of United Plantations Bhd. He is a Co-Owner of The Dato Bek-Nielsen Settlement. He started his career with United Plantations Bhd in 1993 as a Cadet Planter and also received training in United International Enterprises (M) Berhad (UIEM). He resumed his career with United Plantations Bhd in 1998 as a Corporate Affairs Officer. He is involved in several aspects of the palm oil industry and the group’s overall business operations.


John Cusick

John Cusick with the Jacobsen team of analysts has been a trader in the Biodiesel and Biodiesel feedstock world for the past 15 years.  His career has included the trading upstarts at RBF Port Neches TX the US’s largest biodiesel production facility, Morgan Stanley Commodities, Trafigura, Glencore and Imperium Renewables. Two start-ups Sasco Renewable Energy and Biofuels Trade and Transport, of which were both absorbed into other large entities along the way. With a career marked in successfully navigating the complex and often challenging relationship between agriculture inputs and energy outputs, add to this the now myriad of regulatory credits in orbit of these markets John has unique practical experience in the space.  John brings to the Jacobsen his experience and expertise in managing the twists and turns in the US and Global Renewable Fuels world for his traditional customers, the Major Refiners or ‘Obligated’ and ‘Regulated’ parties as a supplier now planning to serve in the capacity of forecasting and consulting in the space.


John Dillard

Associate Attorney

Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC (OFW Law)

John Dillard is an associate attorney at Olsson Frank Weeda Terman Matz PC (OFW Law) in Washington, D.C.  He provides regulatory counsel, general counsel, and litigation services to clients in the agriculture and food industries. In his regulatory practice, John provides advice to companies and trade associations on diverse topics including food labeling, food safety, plant and animal biotechnology, the National Organic Program, the Packers and Stockyards Act, and environmental regulations that affect farmers and ranchers.

John also provides general counsel services to several agricultural trade associations. In this role, he provides advice on corporate governance, contract drafting and evaluation, antitrust, director fiduciary responsibilities, and employment matters. John has also represented the interests of trade association clients that have participated in several high-profile agricultural law cases.

John has an extensive background in agriculture dating back to his family’s beef cattle operation in Virginia. He studied Animal Science and Agricultural Economics at Virginia Tech and earned a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University. John also writes a column on legal and policy issues for Farm Journal and National Provisioner.


Bobby Henline

Henline is a retired Army Staff Sergeant, last serving with the 82nd Airborne Division. He spent 13 years in the Army, completing four tours. While on his fourth tour in Iraq, three weeks after his arrival, an IED exploded under his Humvee – April 7, 2007 is a day he will never forget. The four soldiers with him were killed. As Henline stumbled out of the wreck, a human torch, he was extinguished by the soldier he had replaced in the Humvee. With burns covering almost 40% of his body, fractured bones in his face, and his head burned to the skull, Henline was put into a medically induced coma for two weeks and was flown back to the states.

During his initial six-month hospital stay, Bobby remained upbeat, positive, and relied on humor to get him through each day. Putting nurses in headlocks, trying to keep other wounded soldiers’ spirits up by telling them jokes, and singing a ditty over and over garnered the attention of his occupational therapist. She challenged him to go to an open mic night and try his hand at comedy, making him promise with a pinky swear. He kept his promise, and that experience started a new chapter in his life. Comedy helps Bobby keep his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Anxiety at bay, and allows him to share his story and healing with others in a positive, funny, inspirational way.

Today, Henline continues his quest to make people laugh in a variety of venues. His professional comedy includes performances as the “Well-Done Comedian” at Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club, Las Vegas; Laugh Factory, Chicago; and Hollywood Improv, Los Angeles, to name just a few. As an actor, credits include the following movies and TV series: “Sophie and the Rising Sun”, “Surviving Home”, and “Shameless”.

Henline’s story and lived experiences have been featured in numerous media, including the documentaries “Comedy Warriors: Healing Through Humor”, “Healing Bobby”, and “Weight of Honor”; on CNN, PBS KET, NPR, Today.com, and Time.com; Time Magazine, People Magazine, The Huffington Post, Guideposts, and Readers Digest; as well as television, radio, and podcasts around the world.

His other experience includes modeling, writing poetry, and songwriting. In 2016, Henline co-founded Bravo748 Military and Combat Speakers Bureau, an organization that invests in Veterans who are speakers and entertainers with a mission of giving back to their communities through their experience, training, stories, comedy, music, and more.

As a Motivational Speaker/Inspirational Comedian/Emcee, Henline is comfortable speaking with one person or 1,000’s. He collaborates with and performs for military and military-related organizations to inspire soldiers, Veterans, and their families, spreading his message of life, love, joy, and resilience; he visits middle and high schools across the country to inspire young people; and speaks at for profit and not-for-profit organizations (Law Enforcement, First Responders, Athletics, Universities, Healthcare, Airlines, Fund-raisers, etc.) sharing his story of resiliency, hope, and healing.


Bill Lapp

Bill Lapp is founder and president of Advanced Economic Solutions.

Bill graduated from Southern Illinois University in 1979 with a B.A. in Mathematics, and from Purdue University in 1981 with a M.S. in Agricultural Economics. He has over 30 years of experience analyzing and forecasting economic conditions and commodity markets, and has a wealth of experience providing comprehensive economic analysis of the major commodity markets.

Bill has been a featured speaker at numerous national forums, including the restaurant industry’s semi-annual Supply Chain Management conference and the USDA Annual Outlook conference.  Prior to forming Advanced Economic Solutions, Bill was Chief Economist for ConAgra Foods.

He has served on numerous boards, including the Kansas City Board of Trade, Kansas City Federal Reserve Board’s Center for the Study of Rural America, the Farm Foundation, and the Food and Agriculture Committee of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce. In addition, he is a member of USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service Advisory Board, and participates on the Harvard Business Industrial Economists’ Round-Table.


Ron Lawson

A 5th generation Northern Californian, Ron has been involved in agriculture his entire life. Opting not to return to work on his Family’s dairy farm and cattle ranch, upon graduation from the University of California Davis with a B.S. in Livestock Production Management, Ron took a Field Representative position with McCormick Schilling. His duties included overseeing the contracting, planting, growing and harvesting of approximately 75,000 acres of row crops from the Mexican border north into Oregon. Ron left McCormick to manage the Christopher Ranch in Gilroy, California, a diversified vegetable and produce company with notoriety as being the world’s largest Garlic farm. While in Gilroy, Ron was one of the founding fathers of the internationally renowned Gilroy Garlic Festival.

In 1982, Ron left the Garlic fields for Wall Street, starting in the San Jose office of Merrill Lynch as a Commodities and Futures Specialist. Early successes in this position prompted his transfer to the firm’s Los Angeles office, joining the Cotton trading desk in 1986. The branch’s business grew as Ron established and then managed Merrill Lynch Futures’ Pacific Coast Futures Center. A subsequent promotion to Resident Manager of the Western Region resulted in his overseeing the firm’s 126 Commodity Brokers and Futures trading in the 17 western states, which in turn preceded Ron’s move back home to Northern California in the summer of 1996.

Upon Merrill’s exit of the brokered commodity business in early 2000, Ron accepted a position as the Head of the Cotton Trading Desk of Prudential Financial. By the spring of 2004, upon Prudential’s merger with Wachovia, a non-commodity trading Bank, the trading desk’s futures and derivatives business was larger than Wachovia professed it could handle. This prompted the establishment of both LOGIC Advisors and Steadfast Futures & Options.


Drew Lerner

Senior Agricultural Meteorologist

Founder and President

World Weather, Inc

Drew Lerner is President and Senior Agricultural Meteorologist of World Weather, Inc.  Drew has been forecasting international weather for 39 years. He began his meteorology career in 1978 as he participated in an international effort to collect data and improve weather forecasting for the Asian Monsoon. Since then, Drew has been supporting the agricultural industry by providing detailed short and long range weather predictions for each major crop area in the world. His daily assessments of crop and weather expectations supports commodity market trade and helps many companies make better agricultural business decisions. Drew started facWorld Weather, Inc. in 2001 after leading Global Weather Services in the late 1990s. World Weather, Inc. is based in the Kansas City area and supports an expanding group of clientele residing in North and South America, India, Europe, Africa and Australia.


Drew will provide an in-depth look at the various ocean and atmospheric influences that will affect oilseed production in North America this spring and summer. He will also take a look at potential weather issues impacting other oilseed production areas around the world. A few minutes will also be spent talking about the implications of a prolonged solar minimum that is projected by NASA and NOAA over the next several years.


Terry Reilly

Senior Agriculture Futures Analyst at Futures International LLC

Reilly has worked for Futures International LLC for more than 6 years where he forecast agriculture futures for small, but concentrated commercial and fund based firm. He also dailycreates two market letters focused on the fundamental market movements for soybeans, cornand wheat, and related products.

Presents newswires and trade price outlooks, USDA report estimates, and general comments onmarket direction.

Prior to his work at Futures International, he spent 12 years with Citi where he conducted price discovery by means of fundamental analysis for the grain and oilseed futures commodity markets by analyzing government reports, news sources, and private industry data. He was also responsible for development and recommendations of outright futures and spread trade ideas with findings.

His education and creditientals includes CFP Certificate from Northwestern University as well as a BS in Marketing from Boston College – Wallace E. Carroll Graduate School of Management.



Kelly McDonald

Kelly McDonald is considered one of the nation’s top experts in marketing, customer service and consumer trends. 

Her client experience includes brands such as Toyota, Subaru, Kimberly-Clark, Nike, Harley-Davidson, Miller-Coors, and Sherwin-Williams.

Kelly was named one of the “10 Most Booked Speakers in the U.S.” and she was also #1 on the list of “26 Hot Speakers” by Successful Meetings Magazine. 

She has been featured on CNBC, in Forbes, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Fast Company, on CNNMoney.com and on The Focus Group show!

She is the author of three bestselling books: 

“How to Market to People Not Like You” 
“Crafting the Customer Experience for People Not Like You” 
And her latest is: “How to Work With & Lead People Not Like You”

Kelly lives in Denver and when she’s not on the road speaking, she enjoys hiking – and shopping for high heels.


Yi Li, Ph.D.

Yi Li, Ph.D., is the Molecular Platform Manager at Calyxt.She is a trained Plant Biochemist and Molecular Biologist from Purdue University.  Her NSF and USDA funded research projects have been published in journals including Science magazine.  Her expertise extends across a variety of crops, and is now focused on developing new value-added crop traits through cutting edge gene-editing techniques at Calyxt.


Ron Heddleson, Ph.D., is the Food Applications Technology Director at Calyxt.His career spans over 20 years within the US food industry, within R&D, technical service, and business development leadership roles at startups, ingredient companies and General Mills.  He has launched new products including beverages, dairy products, baked goods, cereals and customized ingredients across a variety of manufacturing platforms.  Ron received his BS in Microbiology from Penn State University, and his Ph.D. in Food Science from North Carolina State University.  He was honored as a North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Outstanding Alumni.

Ron Heddleson, Ph.D.

Precision plant breeding techniques hold enormous promise for bringing plant-based ingredients to food brands and meeting consumer expectations for heathier, sustainable and traceable foods while protecting the environment. The first consumer-focused product made using gene editing to be commercialized in 2019 is a High Oleic Soybean Oil containing approximately 80% oleic acid, up to 20% less saturated fatty acids compared to commodity soybean oil, and zero grams of trans fat per serving.  The path to developing this unique product and the potential of this technology for delivering new high value and heathier oils will be presented.

These two professionals from Calyxt will co-present a session at the NIOP Convention on this emerging topic and growth area in our industry.