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Speaker Bios (Listed in alphabetical order)
Martin Beaulieu graduated from Laval University with a Master of Sciences in Agricultural Economics and a Bachelor of Sciences in Agronomy, Soil Sciences. He has worked for more than 24 years with Statistics Canada’s Agriculture Division. He worked as senior analyst on several statistical programs related to field crop production, food processing, food consumption, farm practices, fertilizer production, farm financial and census of agriculture. He managed several cost recovery projects for other Canadian federal departments for the design and management of new survey programs. Over his career, he has authored or co-authored research papers mainly on farm practices.
Kara Beckles is the Acting Director General of the Research and Analysis Directorate at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC). Kara joined AAFC in 2007 and has held a number of roles within the Strategic Policy Branch including: Chief, Regulatory Policy; Chief, Bioeconomy Policy, and Director, Economic and Industry Analysis. Prior to joining AAFC Kara worked in a wide range of policy roles including: at Finance Canada working on immigration policy and homelessness initiatives; the negotiation of free trade agreements at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade; as well as various roles at the Treasury Board Secretariat, the Privy Council Office, and Statistics Canada. Kara holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in economics and business from the University of Winnipeg and a Master of Arts (econ) from Dalhousie University.
Derek Brewin is an Associate Professor of Agribusiness and Agricultural Economics at the University of Manitoba. Derek is Past-President of Canadian Agricultural Economics Society and has served on numerous boards and committees including the U of M Senate and the Manitoba Rural Adaptation Council. His recent research has focused on the spatial dimensions of grain and oilseed markets and firm location choices as well as innovation in food processing and plant breeding. Prior to his academic career Derek was a Corporate Advisor for the Canadian Wheat Board; a Policy Economist for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (PFRA and Policy Branch) and a lender for Farm Credit Corporation. Derek was raised on a mixed irrigation farm near Purple Springs, Alberta.
Blair Coomber spent nearly twenty-five years working for Agriculture and Agri-food Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection agency, most of the time in the area of policy and international trade. From 2003 to 2012, he held several Director General positions working on market access and market development for Canadian agri-food products. Throughout that time he had continuous responsibility for technical trade policy working on promoting new agriculture technologies, and trade issues such as the low level presence of GMO products in grain shipments, maximum residue levels, and animal health issues. He currently works as a trade consultant in the agri-food area.
Vonnie Estes is an accomplished executive with industry leadership and global experience in agribusiness and synthetic biology based businesses. Currently she is Group Leader, Agricultural and Industrial Biotechnology at Caribou Biosciences. She is also a board director of Microvi Biotechnologies, Member Iteris ClearAg Advisory Council and an appointed member of Biomass R&D Technical Advisory Committee at the US Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. She has held key leadership roles at prominent companies including DuPont, Monsanto, and Syngenta. She has also worked with small start-ups and venture funds to identify and commercialize promising technologies. Ms. Estes has built and developed new companies and industries through leadership roles at conferences by chairing, moderating, speaking and serving on industry and government committees and boards.
Ellen Goddard is Cooperative Chair in Agricultural Marketing and Business, University of Alberta. She came to Alberta from a position as National Australia Bank Professor of Agribusiness and Associate Dean, Coursework, at the Institute of Land and Food Resources, the University of Melbourne. Prior to that Australian appointment Ellen Goddard worked in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Guelph. Over the past 30 years Professor Goddard’s research has been focused on economic modeling of domestic and international markets for food products (particularly meat) for policy analysis purposes. Current research includes various aspects of food marketing including consumer response to food safety incidents, consumer interest in labels, demand for credence attributes, traceability and certification and public response to the introduction of new technologies in agriculture.
Brenna Grant grew up in SW Saskatchewan on a cow/calf, yearling grasser operation where her family still operates. She received a BA in Agricultural Economics from the University of Saskatchewan and a Masters in Applied Economics from Montana State University. She has been a Research Analyst with Canfax Research since 2007.
Richard Gray joined the University of Saskatchewan in 1990 after completing his PhD in Agricultural & Resource Economics from UC Berkeley. Over time his policy research has increasingly focused on various aspects of agricultural research and innovation systems. From 2003 to 2013 he led the Canadian Agricultural Innovation Research Network. Richard is a Fellow of the Canadian Agricultural Economics Society. He regularly provides advice to farm organisations and government regarding innovation policy. His active engagement in the family grain farm continues to provide firsthand experience with agriculture. Richard has been a board member of the Canadian Agricultural Policy Institute since 2014.
Mark Hemmes is President of Quorum Corporation, an independent subsidiary of the Quorum Group of Companies, of which he is a founding partner. Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Quorum Corporation has been responsible for monitoring Canada’s Prairie Grain Handling and Transportation System since June 2001. Quorum reports to the Government and industry on changes in the efficiency, reliability, structure and operation of the grain handling and transportation system as well as the impacts these changes have on producers. Quorum and its sister companies have also completed studies in the area of container movements and the role of inland container terminals in Western Canada, the provision of analytical and research services for the review of rail freight service in 2008 and 2009 and most recently (2015) an examination and assessment of the Canadian Grain Supply Chain. Mark has extensive experience in the transportation industry. During his 23 years with the rail industry he held a variety of senior positions in the fields of marketing, intermodal, and operations. Mark attended school in Edmonton at the University of Alberta and the University of Western Ontario.
Jill Hobbs is a Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Saskatchewan. She holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. Her research interests encompass food policy, consumer preferences, and supply chain economics. Dr. Hobbs recently completed a term as co-editor of the Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics (2013-2016) and is a former President of the Canadian Agricultural Economics Society (2003-2004).
Brian Innes leads the Canola Council of Canada’s government relations activities including trade policy, market access and regulatory affairs. During his time at the Council he has led the development of the industry’s market access strategy and has worked closely on market access issues and free trade negotiations such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He also serves as the president of the Canadian Agri-food Trade Alliance (CAFTA), an organization promoting a more open international trading environment for agriculture and agri-food.
Alan Ker obtained a joint Ph.D. in Economics and Statistics from North Carolina State University in 1996. He was a Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of Arizona between 1996-2009. In 2009 Professor Ker joined the Department of Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics (FARE) at the University of Guelph as Chair. Currently, he is Director of the Institute for the Advanced Study of Food and Agricultural Policy within FARE and the President of the Canadian Agricultural Economics Society. His interests are varied having published in leading academic journals ranging from agricultural economics, economics, statistics, probability, law, animal science, and plant science. Current research involves issues of innovation induced yield volatilities, mixture modelling of price volatilities, risk management, and nonparametric econometrics. Professor Ker sits on the editorial boards of the Canadian Journal of Agricultural Economics and the European Review of Agricultural Economics.
Gordon Kurbis As Director of Market Access and Trade Policy at Pulse Canada, Gordon Kurbis works on behalf of growers and exporters of pulses and special crops to bring resolution to a wide range of market access issues that can arise across the 160+ countries that import from Canada, the world’s largest exporter of pulse crops. He also helps position the pulse industry to get out in front of future trade problems before they occur. As part of that, Gord has participated in expert working groups and committees at FAO, the WTO, the International Plant Protection Convention, NAFTA, the International Grain Trade Coalition, and other international government and industry groups. Gord has an MSc in agricultural economics and has spent 19 years in the Canadian grain industry in the areas of market access, market analysis, trade policy, marketing and quality assurance. He has been with Pulse Canada since 2007.
Stavroula Malla is an Associate Professor, in the Department of Economics at the University of Lethbridge. She holds a Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Saskatchewan. Her work has won several published research awards, including CAES awards for outstanding Ph.D. dissertation and outstanding journal articles. Her research interests include: the economics of health foods; regulations and health claims; public policy in agriculture and health; economics of R&D and technical change/innovation; economics of biotechnology; and agricultural productivity growth.
David McInnes is President and CEO of the Ottawa-based Canadian Agri-Food Policy Institute (CAPI), an independent, non-partisan organization focused on advancing a national dialogue on emerging issues facing Canada’s agri-food sector. David has previously worked for a life sciences company, a national association, a major bank and a Royal Commission on the economy. David is a graduate of the London School of Economics and Dalhousie University.
Peter W.B. Phillips is Distinguished Professor in the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy at the University of Saskatchewan, where he teaches innovation policy. He earned his M.Sc. and Ph.D. at the London School of Economics (LSE) and practiced for 13 years as a professional economist and advisor in industry and government. He has held numerous research chairs and appointments, is a founding director of the Johnson-Shoyama Centre for the Study of Science and Innovation Policy (CSIP),. and has served on many company boards, including CAPI and Ag West Bio Inc. (a biotech venture fund). His research is currently funded by CFI, CFREF, Genome Canada, NSERC and SSHRC.
Johan Swinnen is Professor of Economics and Director of the LICOS-Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance at the KU Leuven; Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) in Brussels; a part-time Visiting Scholar at the Centre for Food Security and the Environment (FSE) at Stanford University. Earlier he was President of the International Association of Agricultural Economists (2012-15), Lead Economist at the World Bank (2003-4) and Economic Advisor at the European Commission (1998-2001). He has published widely on agricultural and food policies, political economy, institutional reform, trade, global value chains, and standards. His recent books include “Quality Standards, Value Chains and International Development” (2015, Cambridge Univ Press); “Political Power and Economic Policy” (2011 Cambridge Univ Press), “The Economics of Chocolate” (2015, Oxford Univ Press), “The Economics of Beer” (2009 Oxford Univ Press), “Global Supply Chains, Standards, and the Poor” (2007, CABI).
Giuliano Tolusso is a Chief in the Innovation and Growth Policy Division of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Strategic Policy Branch in Ottawa. He has spent the majority of his 15-year career in the public service working at AAFC on biotechnology and emerging technology issues from a number of perspectives. These include co-existence of various production systems, consumer perception/acceptance, and international market access.
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