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2017 Ag Chairs Speaker Bios

Shonda Atwater

Apprentice Outreach Director
Metropolitan Community College

Shonda Atwater’s passion has always been at the intersection of agriculture and family; and based on her formal education and career experience, her expertise lies in both public advocacy and strategic business expansion. Her knack for marketing creativity, social media marketing, business and sales acumen, and work ethic are only underpinned by her passion for connecting people in the best, most strategic ways. Read more about Shonda Atwater

Scott Brown

Agriculture Economist
University of Missouri

Scott Brown is an assistant extension professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Missouri and the state extension agricultural economist for the University of Missouri extension. Dr. Brown has worked with the U.S. Read more about Scott Brown

Elizabeth Choate

General Counsel
Texas Veterinary Medical Association

Elizabeth Choate has a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Economics and a Juris Doctor with a certificate in Government Law. She has worked multiple sessions within the Texas state legislature both as a Policy Analyst and Chief of Staff/ General Counsel. Currently, Ms. Choate serves as the Director of Government Relations/ General Counsel for the Texas Veterinary Medical Association. Read more about Elizabeth Choate

Geoff Cooper

Executive Vice President
Renewable Fuels Association

Geoff Cooper is RFA’s Executive Vice President. In addition to overseeing market analysis and policy research, he provides regulatory support and strategic planning for the association and its members. Geoff also focuses on issues related to lifecycle analysis, sustainability and ethanol co-products. Read more about Geoff Cooper

John Cruickshank

Canadian Consul General
Canadian Consulate General in Chicago

John Cruickshank serves as Canada’s Consul General in Chicago with accreditation to Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, northwest Indiana, and Kansas City Metro. Read more about John Cruickshank

Jeff Farrar

Director Intergovernmental Affairs and Partnerships

Dr. Farrar is the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Partnerships for the FDA Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine. He provides leadership on FDA initiatives to build a national integrated food safety system with other federal, state and local government agencies, and manages high-level interagency policy issues. Dr. Read more about Jeff Farrar

Peter Hall

Vice President
Export Development Canada

Peter Hall joined Export Development Canada (EDC) in November 2004. With over 25 years of experience in economic analysis and forecasting, Mr. Hall is responsible for overseeing EDC’s economic analysis, country risk assessment and corporate research groups. In addition to preparing strategic advice for senior management at EDC, Mr. Read more about Peter Hall

Sheila Harsdorf

Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection

Sheila Harsdorf was appointed Secretary of Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer  Protection (DATCP) by Governor Walker in November 2017. Harsdorf served in the state legislature representing northwestern Wisconsin for more than 25 years, first as a State Representative for the 30thAssembly District and most recently as a State Senator for the 10thSenate District. Read more about Sheila Harsdorf

Anne Hazlett

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development

Anne Hazlett, Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development, oversees the Rural Utilities Service, the Rural Business Service, and the Rural Housing Service within USDA and reports directly to the secretary.  This represents an elevation of Rural Development, which had previously been in the portfolio of an undersecretary, who in turn reported to the deputy secretary of agriculture. Read more about Anne Hazlett