2019 Grow-NY Summit Panelists

The Food & Ag Symposium will feature a series of enriching panels tackling some of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the food and ag industry

Market Explosion Or A Bursting Bubble—What Are The Long-Term Opportunities For Hemp?

Panelists representing different sectors of the hemp market, including both processors and growers, will discuss the current roller coaster of production and demand for industrial hemp driven by a rapidly expanding CBD market and followed by overproduction. Is there opportunity to develop dual purpose crops and strengthen the market demand for grain and fiber hemp?


Larry Smart – Associate Director, Cornell AgriTech
Dr. Larry Smart is a Professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University and is Associate Director of Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, NY. Larry is a plant geneticist and breeder whose lab uses genomic tools in breeding shrub willow bioenergy crops and to better understand hybrid vigor and pest and disease resistance. More recently, he has been leading Cornell’s hemp research and extension team and has initiated a long-term breeding program to develop new hemp cultivars for New York State. He received his B.S. in Biology at Cornell University, Ph.D. in Genetics at Michigan State University, and was an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at UC-Davis.


Andy Lytwynec – Vice President, Strategy, Canopy Growth Corporation
Andy Lytwynec is Canopy Growth’s Vice President of Strategy for the US and brings extensive experience in designing and delivering high-impact, transformation strategies to Fortune 500 companies. Prior to joining Canopy Growth, Lytwynec headed up Corporate Strategy for Constellation Brands where he led the company’s strategic initiatives in the cannabis industry that ultimately culminated in Constellation’s multi-billion dollar investments in Canopy Growth. Lytwynec has a long track record of leading large transformation programs and building growth strategies from his prior consulting experience at Accenture Strategy. While at Accenture Andy partnered with executives from a wide range of industries, but developed a particular focus on corporate strategy advisory work for food & beverage clients. Prior to beginning his career at Xerox Corporation with roles in finance and corporate strategy, Lytwynec earned a B.S. in Applied Economics from Cornell University’s Dyson School of Business, and he currently serves on the Dyson School’s Advisory Board.

Christopher Logue – Director of Plant Industry, NYS Department of Ag and Markets
Chris has been the director of the Division of Plant Industry for the past five years. Prior to this position Chris worked as an extension educator for over 20 years focusing in horticultural production and pest management. Chris has training in horticulture and entomology and has provided leadership to the Industrial Hemp program since 2015.

Trey Riddle – CEO and Founder, Sunstrand LLC
Dr. Riddle is the CEO and Founder of Sunstrand, the leading supplier of hemp fiber and other sustainable materials for technical and industrial applications. The company has hemp products adopted in automotive, apparel, animal care, construction materials and consumer goods. Dr. Riddle is the former President of the KY Hemp Industries Association and member of the Hemp Industry Roundtable. He started his career in engineering performing accelerated structural testing on wind turbine blades. Prior to Sunstrand, he founded Gradient Engineering, an engineering services firm focused on polymer composite applications. Dr. Riddle received his BS and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Montana State University and Masters from Cornell University.

Marc Van Burck – Director of Global Business Development,Hemp Production Services

Marc was born and raised on a pedigreed seed farm in Northeastern Saskatchewan. He gained his Bachelor of Science, with a concentration in Finance from Cornell University and began a career at Deutsche Bank in New York. In both New York and London, Marc focused on North American Oil & Gas companies and worked across the banks core coverage functions including commodity trading, equity research and investment banking. In 2014, Marc earned the designation of Chartered Financial Analyst as well as was promoted to an Associate within the banks Energy Investment Banking team. In early 2017, while looking for an entrepreneurial role in agriculture, he joined Hemp Production Services and became responsible for developing group strategy, investment decisions, global partnerships, and key account management. Since his arrival Marc has helped Hemp Production Services become a leading North American hemp ingredients company focused on advancing hempseed protein and nutritional oil.

Ben Banks-Dobson – Managing Director, Hudson Hemp

Allan Gandelman – Founder of New York Hemp Oil 

What Do Consumers Want Next? Meeting Demand With Food And Beverage Innovation

Consumer expectations are evolving constantly, with an increasing demand for products that align with emerging nutritional trends, which are convenient, which are sourced sustainably and produced transparently. These paradigm shifts, alongside the pressures of a growing population, are requiring the entire industry—from small food companies to multinational conglomerates—to think differently. Hear from this panel of experts on how the food and beverage industry is evolving, how companies are innovating in the face of challenges, and what opportunities lie on the horizon.


Bruno Xavier – Senior Extension Associate & Processing Authority, Cornell University
Dr. Bruno Xavier is a Food Engineer with a PhD in Microbiology (Cornell University, 2008). Previously worked as a post-doctorate associate at the Milk Quality Improvement Program (Cornell University, 2008-2009), and as a university professor (UFSJ, 2009-2016), where he taught courses related to Biotechnology and Industrial Microbiology. Currently works as an Extension Associate and Processing Authority at the Cornell Food Venture Center, which provides product development and safety validation services to food companies in NY State and beyond, helping to bring more than 2000 products to market yearly.


Ron Tanner – VP of Philanthropy, Government & Industry Relations at Specialty Food Association
Ron Tanner is Vice President, Philanthropy, Government & Industry Relations for the Specialty Food Association, owner of the Fancy Food Shows®, and the publisher of Specialty Food Magazine. Ron has worked for the Specialty Food Association, and its 3,800+ members, since 1987.

Ron serves as the Association liaison with U.S. government agencies and has worked with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the development of the Food Safety Modernization Act regulations, especially the Foreign Supplier Verification Program, and Preventive Controls for Human Food. He is a member of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Technical Advisory Council (ATAC), the Steering Committee of the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA) and the Academic and Regulatory Committee of the American Cheese Society.

Niel Sandfort VP New Product Development , Chobani
As head of New Product Development (NPD) for Chobani, Niel Sandfort orchestrates all new product launches including expansions of existing product families and new product platforms. At Chobani, NPD acts as a hub, bringing together resources from Research & Development, Operations, Quality, Procurement, Creative, Sales and other key functions to bring new products to life. Niel has been with Chobani for nearly 10 years, launching over 400 products, and has led and built out a number of key functions as Chobani has grown from start-up to #1 Greek yogurt brand and the second largest yogurt manufacturer in America. Niel grew up in and around food manufacturing as well as dairy farming. Prior to his time at Chobani, Niel worked for other large yogurt companies both domestically and internationally. Niel brings a holistic view to product development and has worked in many facets of the business throughout supply chain and in demand operations. Niel is a passionate product designer with a marketing degree from Babson College and a graduate degree in Food Systems from NYU.

Adam Lazar – Founder & CEO, Asarasi Sparkling Tree Water
Adam Lazar is the CEO & founder of Asarasi, (ah-sir-ah-see) producing the world’s only renewable and sustainable source for pure water, adding to the worlds drinkable water supplies. Asarasi is harvested exclusively from a plant-based, renewable and sustainable source; the maple tree. Asarasi is an upcycled sugar-free maple sap, a one billion gallon byproduct of the maple industry. Asarasi has created a completely new category of plant-based water, redefining the highly competitive bottled water space with the purest most trustworthy and only organic certified source that advantages maple farmers and benefits consumers and the environment simultaneously. Asarasi is sold across the USA, in Japan and the United Arab Emirates in over 1,400 locations and growing. Visit www.asarasi.com to learn more!

Adam holds a MBA in Management from Norwich University, in Northfield, VT and a BA in Management from Hartwick College in Oneonta, NY. In addition, he has served as an Officer in the US Army National Guard. http://www.linkedin.com/in/adamnlazar

Gerhard Ufheil – Director External Development for Health Science, Nestle
Gerhard Ufheil has over 20 years with Nestle Research and Development in various functions and categories.  He has held leading roles in Product Development, Lean Design, Innovation, Portfolio- and Project Management.
Ufheil holds a PhD in Life Science and Master in Food Engineering.

Jamie McKeon – SVP, Demand Creation, Rich Products
Dedicated to building new capabilities that unlock growth, Jamie McKeon leads the advancement of digital customer experience innovation, analytics & insights, strategy and breakthrough product innovation for Rich’s United States-Canada (USC) Region.
In her role as Senior Vice President, Demand Creation, Jamie is responsible for accelerating Rich’s position as an innovator and digital leader within the food industry. She also is a member of Rich’s USC Region Leadership Team, USC Strategy Council and Global Marketing Council, all of which help shape Rich’s growth strategies and priorities. When it comes to inspiring associates, building an inclusive workplace and creating opportunities for advancement, Jamie is equally committed. A passionate, visible, active leader in shaping Rich’s culture, Jamie cares deeply about the development and advancement of others, and actively helps drive their success through coaching, mentorship and advocacy.
Jamie serves on the boards of Rich’s Our Women’s Network (OWN) affinity group and the Women’s Foodservice Forum, both of which are committed to gender equity and accelerating the advancement of women in leadership. She also plays a key role on Rich’s Workplace Inclusion Advisory Council, focused on furthering Rich’s diverse and inclusive culture.

Phil Viruso, COO, LiDestri Food and Drink
Chief Operating Officer Phil Viruso oversees the operations of each LiDestri manufacturing plant. During more than 20 years as an entrepreneur and business owner, Phil grew his own company and then sold it. In 2014, he joined LiDestri Food and Beverage and has been instrumental in establishing a new division and strategic development plan for the company’s real estate development.

He focuses on working with employees to improve the company’s dynamic team. Phil brings his passion for the training and education of the workforce to the core of his mission. His other priority is directing LiDestri’s strategic manufacturing plan, ensuring the company remains competitive with unsurpassed quality while providing innovative manufacturing capabilities to customers. Outside of work, Phil is a multi-disciplined martial artist and an avid downhill skier. He also enjoys travel and camping trips to the Adirondacks with his wife and children.

Cultivating Fertile Ground For Funding: Capital Strategies For Food Entrepreneurs And Ag Tech Startups

This panel will bring together a spectrum of experts representing lenders, venture capitalists, corporate investors, and government programs to discuss strategies for navigating the unique challenges that food, beverage, and ag-related companies face in accessing and raising capital. Discussion will include: how to develop a compelling pitch, cultivating meaningful relationships with potential funders, and creatively leveraging and prioritizing various sources of capital.


Brad Treat- Director of the Southern Tier Startup Aliance and Entrepreneur-In-Residence at Cornell Center for Regional Economic Advancement
Brad is a career entrepreneur with an emphasis on technology-driven companies. Brad was most recently the Founding CEO of Mezmeriz, a high-tech company making interactive projectors and reality capture cameras to embed into mobile phones. Mezmeriz is based on patented MEMS technology developed by company co-founder Shahyaan Desai at Cornell. Previously, he was the Entrepreneur-In-Residence at Cornell University.

Brad was also the co-founder and CEO of SightSpeed, an innovative video and voice communications company. Together with co-founders Aron Rosenberg and Cornell Professor Toby Berger, Brad grew SightSpeed from a university research project into the world’s premier video calling software. SightSpeed was profitably acquired by Logitech for $30M.

Earlier in his career, Brad worked for eight years in the automotive industry in both the US and Spain at Bowles Fluidics and GKN Automotive. He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State, and an MBA from the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell.


Jordan Gaspar- Managing Partner, AccelFoods
Jordan Gaspar is a Managing Partner of AccelFoods, a venture capital firm investing in consumer products. Jordan oversees deal origination, structure and investment execution, as well as heads up strategy, retailer partnerships, investor relations and general management of the fund. Jordan co-founded the fund in 2014 with the intention of offering entrepreneurs a unique perspective and approachable capital to help them build their businesses. With 35 portfolio companies and growing, AccelFoods operates as a hands-on partner working with entrepreneurs to bring innovative, high-quality food and beverage products to the forefront of the industry and create the next generation of enduring brands. Prior to founding AccelFoods, Jordan was an attorney at Morrison Cohen LLP where she advised venture and private equity firms and their portfolio companies on acquisitions, sales, mergers, and financings. Jordan graduated from Columbia College and received her J.D. from Fordham Law School. A New York City native, Jordan currently resides there with her husband, son, and daughter. She is constantly on the hunt for unique, purse friendly snacks for her kids.

Nathan Rudgers – SVP, Business Development, Farm Credit East
Nathan Rudgers is a Senior Vice President for Farm Credit East, a position he has held since December, 2005. In his capacity as Director of Business Development, Nathan is responsible for bringing resources to Farm Credit’s clients who are planning or undergoing major business changes. He is a frequent speaker in state, national and international forums on such topics as renewable energy, food safety, international trade, agriculture policy and economic development. Prior to joining Farm Credit, Nathan served as Commissioner of Agriculture and Markets for The State of New York. Nathan also served as President of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture in 2005.Nathan was born and raised on a dairy and cash crop farm in Pavilion (Wyoming County), New York and is a 1982 graduate of Cornell University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics. Nathan currently lives in Pavilion with his wife Eileen.

Bert Brinkerhoff – VP, M&T Bank
Bert and his team of Business Bankers work with small and mid-sized companies to provide financing solutions. Companies range from start-up operations to well established companies looking to expand and grow. Financing solutions provide working capital, equipment, leasehold improvements or building / real estate that allow our clients to meet their business objectives. Bert has been with M&T Bank for 28 years. He has his undergraduate degree from St. John Fisher College and MBA from RIT.

Garth Hankinson- SVP Corporate Development, Constellation Brands

Garth Hankinson is Constellation’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Development reporting to David Klein, Executive Vice President and CFO. In this role, Garth is responsible for the execution of Constellation’s inorganic growth strategy including Mergers & Acquisitions, oversight of Constellation Ventures, the company’s venture capital group, and Financial Planning & Analysis activities. Garth serves as a member of the Constellation Brands operational executive management committee.

Clayton Besch, Director, The NYS Innovation Venture Capital Fund, Empire State Development


Clayton Besch is the Director of ESD’s New York Ventures which works to bolster the critical capital needs of New York State’s innovation economy by providing seed and early-stage venture funding to high growth startups as they move from concept to commercialization, through early growth and expansion.

Raised in the Capital Region, Clayton did his undergraduate at Hamilton College in Central NY followed by advanced education in Asia, earning a Masters at Nagasaki University and a PhD at Tokyo University. After working with SOFTBANK Capital’s worldwide VC network for a number of years he returned to the Capital Region and joined New York State’s VC program.

Is Indoor Farming The Answer To Future Farming Challenges?

Explore the latest innovations that make controlled environment agriculture an efficient way to grow year-round, nutritious vegetables and small fruit. While automation, energy efficiency, and big data analytics are revolutionizing the industry, we’ll also discuss the economics and challenges preventing rapid adoption of this industry shift.


Neil Mattson

Neil Mattson, Associate professor, Plant Science, Cornell University
Neil joined Cornell University in 2007, having previously earned a PhD from the University of California Davis and M.S. at the University of Minnesota. He is currently an Associate Professor and Director of Cornell’s Controlled Environment Agriculture group. His research focuses on the physiology of plants in controlled environments especially strategies to reduce energy use, LED lighting, nutrient management, and abiotic stress physiology.


Mikhail Hutton

Mikhail Hutton, VP, Marketing & Customer Success, Artemis
Mikhail Hutton is the VP of Marketing & Customer Success at Artemis, the market-leading AgTech platform helping growers manage their farms and facilities. For the last two years Mikhail has worked to further the Artemis mission of developing software that promotes widespread impact for cultivators across the globe. The company develops tools for traceability and accountability, in order to build a safer, stronger agricultural supply chain.

Prior to Artemis, Mikhail spent 6 years working in marketing technology, primarily at Integral Ad Science. At Integral, he established global best practices for the Customer Success organization and helped build the United States team from 3 to over 40 people in 3.5 years. He also contributed to various industry committees and the development of what is now known across the advertising industry as the “GroupM standard.”

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts and Sciences from Penn State University and lives in New York City with his wife and three children.

Brandon Alexander

Brandon Alexander, CEO, IronOx
Brandon Alexander is the CEO and co-founder at Iron Ox, the company building robotic greenhouses to make better produce accessible to everyone.

Inspired by his family farm and career in robotics, Brandon sought to find a sustainable solution to feeding the world’s growing population in an industry that’s challenged with a declining labor force and extreme weather conditions. Prior to Iron Ox, Brandon worked at Google[x]’s drone delivery program, Project Wing and at robotics think tank Willow Garage.

Paal Elfstrum, CEO, Wheatfield Gardens
Paal is CEO of Wheatfield Gardens, a 12.5 acre hybrid greenhouse/indoor farm near Buffalo, NY. In 2015 Paal put together a team of investors and engineers that acquired and up-cycled an old greenhouse near Buffalo, NY. The facility now serves as a pilot demonstration site for controlled environment agriculture technologies that enhance efficiency and sustainability as well as an ongoing commercial enterprise. Today, Wheatfield Gardens is a year-round grower of leafy greens and herbs for local retailers, schools and restaurants. In December of 2017 Paal guided a successful application process that lead to Wheatfield Gardens becoming a research partner with the State of NY Dept of Ag and Markets to help develop industrial Hemp as a viable specialty crop for greenhouse growers in NY. Today, Wheatfield Gardens is the largest indoor grower of Hemp for CBD in NY. Paal is an Advisory Board member for controlled environment agriculture at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Recently, Wheatfield Gardens became the initial extension site for advanced research to be guided by the GLASE consortium (Greenhouse Lighting and Systems Engineering). GLASE is a public-private partnership led by Cornell University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to integrate advanced energy-efficient LED lighting with improved environmental controls for more efficient and sustainable greenhouse production. Paal holds a B.S. in chemistry from the University of Maryland.

John Gaus, CEO, Agbotic
John is a computer and electrical engineer, serial entrepreneur, and technologist. He holds multiple patents in software, devices, process chemistry and robotics. He has started, operated, and exited a number of complex ventures managing teams of hundreds of people. Prior to co-founding Agbotic, John led multinational teams to develop, build, and commission biomass energy plants in 5 countries. He is now dedicated to creating the world’s leading Smart Farms with machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Paul Sellew, Founder and CEO, Little Leaf Farms
Paul Sellew is the founder and CEO of Little Leaf Farms a world class grower and marketer of leafy greens sold throughout the Northeast to leading grocers, restaurants and institutions. He also founded and was CEO of Backyard Farms a 42 acre hydroponic tomato greenhouse. Paul is a graduate of Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

New Dimensions In Buy Local/Think Global—The Changing Landscape Of Retail

Examine recent changes in the retail landscape and weigh the opportunities and challenges facing NY-grown products in local, national, and global supermarket supply chains.


Miguel Gomez – Associate Professor, Food Markets and Distribution, Cornell University
Miguel I. Gómez is Associate Professor in the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University. He concentrates his research and outreach program on two interrelated areas under the umbrella of food marketing and distribution. One is Food Value Chains Competitiveness and Sustainability, which involves multi-disciplinary collaborations to assess supply chain performance in multiple dimensions. The second is Food and Agricultural Markets, combines theory and outreach methods, emphasizing key concepts such as price transmission, demand response, buyer-seller negotiations, and market power.


Michael Kreher – Partner, Kreher Family Farms

Mike Kreher is a partner in Kreher Family Farms, a third and fourth generation family egg and crop farm in Upstate New York. Mr. Kreher has led his family farm’s work on new organic crop opportunities to enhance the sustainability of the organic cropping system, already the largest organic crop operation in New York. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management in Cornell University. Prior to returning to his family’s farming operations, Mr. Kreher spent a decade in the music and entertainment industry where he was involved in several entrepreneurial endeavors. Since returning to agriculture, Mr. Kreher has become involved in an industry-sponsored initiative to promote the development of the food and agriculture industries in Upstate New York, and he is on the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Dean Advisory Council.

Brian Nicholson President & CEO, Owner, Red Jacket Orchards

Brian Nicholson graduated from Cornell University with a BS in Marketing(’94). He settled into an advertising career with storied firm Jordan McGrath Case and Partnerson Madison Avenue in NY City. Here he learned the trade of “engaging consumers”, including the challenge of expanding Proctor and Gamble’s iconic Bounty paper towel business. Finally returning to “greener pasture” on the farm in 2000, Brian worked in all aspectsof the business including establishing their NY distribution, recognized as a pioneer in the local food movement.Together with his family, Brian has led the company on a 20year growth period resulting in over 8 foldgrowth. He currently serves on the board of Premier Apple Co-opand the Canandaigua YMCA. He ispast Chairman of the NY Apple Association.Brian is also the co-author of a nationally recognized cookbook, Fruitful, Four Seasons of Fresh Fruit Recipes.As a third generation owner, he and his familyare committed to a sustainable future for the family business,their community and family. He and his wife, Kirstin, currently reside in Canandaigua, NYwith their threechildren (Colin & Emily& Anna).

Daniel CrossCEO / Managing Director, Love Beets
Originally from the UK, Daniel has spent the last 3 years in Rochester, NY, having been involved with fresh food growing, manufacturing & marketing for over 2 decades in Europe. Daniel is passionate about plant-based diets, using nutrition and eating well to improve health and well-being and lessen the reliance on supplements and medication as well as minimizing environmental impact. Love Beets originated in the UK and now Daniel leads the team in North America to deliver cooked, tasty nutritious beets, beet juices and beet powder from farm to table.

Tim MahanSpecial Projects and Strategic Planning, Wegmans Food Markets
Tim has worked for Wegmans Food Markets for over 27 years in a variety of positions including Wegmans Brand Product Development, Store Management and Merchandising. As Group Manager for Dairy and Frozen, Tim and his team are responsible for sales, profitability and supporting stores to ensure they can provide incredible customer service. The Merchandising Team determines the product assortment at each store, negotiates cost and determines seasonal merchandising strategies. They also collaborate with the Wegmans Brand Product Development Team to bring unique, innovative new items to our customers. In his current position and previous roles in Merchandising, Tim has worked extensively with local and regional brands as well as food entrepreneurs.

Daniel P. Johnson, Professor, Department of Packaging Science, Rochester Institute of Technology

Dan is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Packaging Science in the College of Engineering Technology at Rochester Institute of Technology. He leads a team of experts in food packaging, brand/channel marketing, distribution packaging, sustainable packaging and design for supply chain. The Department of Packaging Science has an industry driven research focus which includes the American Packaging Center for Packaging Innovation, the Center for Sustainable Packaging and an ISTA certified student operated packaging evaluation lab which provides packaging evaluations for more than 200 company-clients each year. Dan’s research interests include sustainable packaging, new product/package development, e-commerce, package automation and design for supply chain.

The Farmer Of Tomorrow: Opportunities And Challenges In Agriculture’s Digital Revolution

Digital Agriculture is poised to radically transform the current state of farming. Learn about new, digital innovations focused on making the agrifood system more resilient, efficient, and equitable and the costs and opportunities facing farmers to adopt these new solutions.



Tim Vanini, Managing Director, Cornell Initiative for Digital Agriculture
Tim has extensive experience in academia and entrepreneurship. He earned his B.S. (’91) at Cornell University in Agricultural Economics and Horticulture, and his M.S. (’95) and Ph.D. (’05) at Michigan State University in Turfgrass Science. At Michigan State, he was a co-inventor of U.S. Patent (5,622,002) for topdressing crumb rubber to turfgrass activity areas (sports fields and golf courses) and served on the development and installation team for building a portable, indoor turfgrass surface for the 1994 FIFA Men’s World Cup in Michigan.

As an entrepreneur based in Buffalo, NY, Tim launched two turfgrass and horticulture companies, New Dimensions Turf and Petrichor. At New Dimensions Turf, he worked with companies, such as Bayer Environmental Science, BASF and Syngenta on product development. In the consulting part of the business, Tim designed and served as project manager for the Buffalo Bills new practice field (2011).


Sri Kantamneni

Sriraj Kantamneni, Managing Director of Digital Strategies, Cargill
SriRaj Kantamneni (Sri) is the Managing Director for Cargill Animal Nutrition’s Digital Insights business. He and his team are responsible for commercializing new products, services and capabilities, leveraging data and digital technologies to transform animal production for livestock & aquaculture. These new and emerging capabilities have the ability to transform the industry by creating efficient, connected systems that feed a growing world sustainably.

Sri joined Cargill in 2002 working with technology in the supply chain planning and optimization domain. He began his career in Cargill’s Food Ingredients &Bio-Industrial Enterprise, initially in edible oils, subsequently working with Cargill’s flour milling business, Horizon Milling. He later assisted with the integration following the acquisition of the JM Smucker’s flour business in Canada.

In 2008, Sri joined a large technology transformation initiative to deploy SAP to Cargill. During his time on this program, he served in a variety of leadership roles across supply chain, procurement, shop floor, transportation & logistics.

In 2012, he relocated to Bangalore, India, where he was tasked with establishing and running a technology shared services center, which is now part of Cargill Business Services, India. Sri repatriated to the U.S.in 2016 and joined the Cargill Animal Nutrition Enterprise in a leadership development assignment, including stints in Brazil, Europe and the United States leading several transformational strategy initiatives for the business. He was also responsible for leading the digital and data strategy, which led to the formation of a new business within Cargill, called Digital Insights.

Barclay Rogers

Barclay Rogers, VP Business Development for GeoInnovation, Indigo Ag
Barclay Rogers is the VP of Business Development for the GeoInnovation team at Indigo Ag. Prior to joining Indigo, Barclay served as the Head of Business Development at Ceres Imaging, the Chief Revenue Officer at TerraAvion, and the CEO of Good Earth Irrigation. Barclay has worked domestically and internationally on agriculture and environmental issues, including leading various imagery-based initiatives to advance precision agriculture, exploring carbon markets from an agricultural perspective, and advancing policies and assisting with regulatory compliance. Barclay taught and “Ag and the Environment Class” atUC Berkeley, and regularly publishes articles covering various “ag tech”issues. He holds an MBA from the University of Cambridge, an LLM in Agricultural Law from the University of Arkansas, a JD from the Lewis & Clark Law School, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Arkansas.

Ali Nafchi, Precision Agriculture Specialist, Cornell Cooperative Extension
Dr. Ali Nafchi works with the Cornell Vegetable Program and the Northwest NY Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team to help growers implement and/or optimize precision ag tools in their farming operations. Ali grew up on a family vegetable and crop farm and was actively involved in all aspects of farming and management. He earned a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in agricultural engineering with a focus on precision agriculture. He has held postdoctoral research and extension positions at the University of Florida and Clemson University, focused on precision ag. Prior to joining Cornell Cooperative Extension, Ali was involved in a variety of projects dealing with sensor-based, site-specific crop input management and harvesting equipment. He developed and adapted tools for variable rate nutrient management; a variable-depth tillage system for managing soil compaction; hardware for variable-rate fertigation equipment for center pivot irrigation systems; and a new soil moisture sensor.

Chris Layer, Principal Engineer & Technology Manager, Moog Inc. 

Chris Layer is a Principal Engineer, Advanced Technology Mangerand Engineering Director for a staff of over 350 engineers at Moog Inc., a $3B company focused on precision motion control headquartered outsideof Buffalo New York. He is responsible for developing new technologies and markets in the areasof autonomous / robotic ecosystemsfor applications in agriculture, construction and military markets. Recent projectsin agriculture have focused on high-density spindle apple orchards for autonomous data collection, targeted blossom spraying and autonomous navigationin GPS denied environments. Prior to coming to Moog,he developed unique background in Hydraulics, Hydro-Mechanical, Electro-Hydrostatic, Electro-Mechanical, Turbo Machinery and Geared Power Transmission Systems.He holds a BS in Agricultural Engineering from Purdue University and graduate studiesin TheoreticalMechanics and Advanced Control Systemsfrom the University of Illinois and CornellUniversity. He holds thirteen patents