Mitch Abrahamsen mugshotDr. Mitch Abrahamsen is Vice President, Research and Development of Cobb-Vantress Inc. He leads the company’s research and development effort and strategic programs for bringing innovation and new technologies to the poultry industry. Dr. Abrahamsen has an extensive background in research and development, project design, management, and implementation of state-of-the-art innovation programs in the animal health and production industry. Much of his experience in academic, governmental and biotechnology environments has involved developing integrated, cross-functional research programs that use large-scale, high-throughput genomic and genetic technologies to develop new products and tools to improve animal health.  Dr. Abrahamsen earned a BSc in biochemistry at the University of Minnesota and a PhD in biochemistry at the University of Washington, Seattle. He has held faculty positions at Montana State University and in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota, where he was a recognized international authority on animal genomics, animal health and the molecular basis of host/pathogen interactions. He has served on advisory boards for numerous private and government funding agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the United States Department of Agriculture. He is currently a member of the board of directors of Genome Prairie.  Formerly, Dr. Abrahamsen worked for Hills Pet Nutrition as Vice President Research and for Pyxis Genomics as Chief Scientific Officer/Vice President, Research and Development. In these roles, he was responsible for developing corporate research strategies that supported global business goals and managing research programs dedicated to driving business growth through technology development and scientific evidence that demonstrates performance and product claims.

Morgan Chattaway bioMr. Chattaway was born and raised in Nanton, Alberta. He graduated from Montana State University in Bozeman with a Bachelor of Animal Science. He then returned home to help run the family ranch. In 2004, he married Katherine Gerbrandt. The couple have two boys, aged eight and five. They continue to live on the Bar S Ranch and help manage the business with his two brothers and father.




Mike Coffey is a Professor, Scotland’s Rural College. As is often the case in Canada, the beef industry in the UK has difficulty transmitting the market and pricing signals needed to identify the products and attributes most valued by consumers. Workingwith the British Limousin Cattle Society and ABP Food Group, Dr. Coffey helped develop a value chain the success of which rested in part on its ability to pass these market signals (including those related to carcass value and tenderness) from consumers back to the packers, feeders and breeders. This presentation discusses what brought this about, how it was done, what it accomplished … and if it is relevant to the Canadian market.


Ellen Crane mugshotEllen Crane developed her passion for agriculture growing up on her family cow-calf operation near Cardigan, Prince Edward Island. From a young age, she established her enthusiasm for the beef industry while showing beef animals across Canada with 4-H and the Canadian Junior Hereford Association. Her passion for agriculture and beef cattle has been incorporated into her post-secondary education. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Animal Science at the Dalhousie University. Her research focuses on feed efficiency in beef heifers with additional focus on indirect assessments of feed efficiency that have potential for on-farm use. Ms. Crane was selected as a finalist for the 2015 Cattlemen’s Young Leaders mentorship program with her mentor, John Baker. She was also selected this year as the first winner of the Keith Gilmore Foundation Beef Cattle Innovation Prize. 

Jeffrey Fitzpatrick-Stilwell mugshotJeffrey Fitzpatrick-Stilwell is Senior Manager, Sustainability at McDonald’s Canada. He is responsible for directing all functional activities in support of the company’s goals relative to sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He develops and leads the implementation of sustainability strategies across McDonald’s five sustainability pillars (sourcing, food, planet, community, and people). He represents the company on the global sustainability teams responsible for shaping the sustainability policies and practices across the worldwide McDonald’s system. He also manages the company’s relations with key sustainability stakeholders and influencers. Before joining McDonald's in 2005, Mr. Stilwell served as political staff to several federal and provincial cabinet ministers.

J. HansenJames R. Hansen was born and raised in Taber, Alberta, on a diverse crop and livestock operation. He is married with two sons, three daughters and nine grandchildren. Mr. Hansen graduated from Utah State University. There, he was a member of the Live Animal and the Carcass Evaluation judging teams. Mr. Hansen worked at Alberta Agriculture for 35 years as District Agriculturist, Livestock Beef Specialist, and Business Development in the field of extension. He participated in a wide range of demonstration and pilot research projects. He currently works for Identigen Canada with the company’s DNA Livestock Parentage program.



Elizabeth Homerosky mugshot copyBorn and raised in southern Ohio, Dr. Elizabeth Homerosky was very active in her family’s commercial beef operation, exhibiting cattle through 4-H, and judging livestock. Her interests in food animal production led her to Ohio State University where she completed a BSc in Animal Science (2008) and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (2012). After one year practising beef production medicine in rural western Iowa, she was accepted to the University of Calgary, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (2013) as the inaugural Simpson Ranch Fellow in Beef Cattle Health. The three-year fellowship combines an MSc and clinical residency with board eligibility in beef production medicine. Dr. Homerosky is very honoured to be a 2015 inductee into the Cattlemen’s Young Leaders program and mentored by Tom Lynch-Staunton.



Kathy Larson mugshotKathy Larson
has been the Western Beef Development Centre’s Research Economist for the last five years. After obtaining a BSc (Agricultural Economics) from the University of Saskatchewan in 2001, she moved to Winnipeg to work for the Canadian Wheat Board until September 2003. She then returned to the University of Saskatchewan to complete an MSc (2007) in Agricultural Economics under Dr. Murray Fulton. Her Master’s research involved case-study interviews with former senior management and board members of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. Ms. Larson joined Western Beef for one year in 2005-2006, then returned to the University of Saskatchewan to be Project Manager for Dr. Fulton’s Knowledge Impact in Society initiative. Rejoining Western Beef in April 2010, her research focuses on helping producers to understand the value of measuring costs and production performance to manage and increase profit potential. Recent projects include developing tools and training on the cost of production, demonstrating record-keeping programs and tools, interviewing young ranchers across Saskatchewan on their management and marketing practices, and the Western Canadian Cow-Calf Survey. Ms. Larson also provides economic analysis to support the forage and cow-calf research conducted by colleagues, Dr. Bart Lardner and Dr. Paul Jefferson. Originally from a purebred cattle and grain farm near Tyvan in southeastern Saskatchewan, she now lives in Prince Albert where she works from home.

Jeff Millang mugshotMr. Jeff Millang is Director of the Livestock and Farm Business Branch of Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. This branch of 19 staff develops and maintains technical resources providing business solutions for growth and profitability in the livestock sector. Staff work with primary production and meat-processing companies. Mr Millang has worked as a district agriculturist, farm management specialist and beef specialist throughout Central Alberta. He received a BSc from the University of Alberta in Agriculture Economics and Animal Science. He received an MBA from the University of Guelph with the project: Key Success Factors in the Cow Calf enterprise Profitability. He has taught at the University of Alberta as a guest speaker for Animal Science 474 for the past 10 years with lectures focusing on business strategy and the cost of production in the cow/calf sector. His work has always centred on creative thinking in problem-solving, working in creative teams that developed producer-based tools such as CowProfits, and Crop Choices. He always looks for practical ways to solve complex problems.


Andrew Powell mugshot copyDr. Andrew Powell graduated from the University of Edinburgh with honours in Biology and obtained his PhD in Plant Physiology from the University of Calgary. He has held research and academic positions at the University of Guelph, Canada, the National Institute for Health Sciences in Tokyo and Tsukuba, Japan, and the National University of Singapore. He has worked as a consultant since 1994, assisting a wide range of clients in their biotechnology activities across East Asia and more recently in Lain America. Dr Powell founded Asia BioBusiness in 2005 with Professor Paul Teng. Clients include governments, development banks, development agencies, multinational corporations and SMEs. He has considerable experience in stakeholder dialogue, facilitation and public fora across the region and in Australia. Dr Powell is a risk communications practitioner. He has trained and consulted governments and private sector organizations around APEC in a broad range of subject areas, technology, food safety, water security, education, etc. He is currently engaged in a project for United Nations Environment Programme: Global Environment Facility and the Government of India on biosafety, and recently completed a Food Safety Risk Communication Workshop for the Food and Agriculture Organization in Bangkok. He recently co-authored a paper in Scientific American WorldView 2015 entitled “Communication Breakdown: Looking at the GMO controversy through the lens of communications science”  Dr Powell is on the advisory committee of Scientific American WorldView and the Advisory Board of the Rice Bowl Index.

noImageStuart Thiessen 





Van Groningen mugshotCory Van Groningen has co-owned the family business, VG Meats, for over 10 years. Mr. Van Groningen, his wife, Heidi, and their three daughters operate a 400 head cow-calf operation (Hillview Farm) where all cattle are marketed through the family business retail stores. Mr. and Mrs. Van Groningen were awarded the Ontario Outstanding Young Farmer Award in 2012. Mr. Van Groningen sits on numerous boards representing the beef industry including the Ontario Independent Meat Processors (OIMP), Beef Improvement Opportunities (BIO) and the Haldimand Cattlemen's Association. He is a passionate advocate for the industry, and has a wealth of experience in marketing, business planning and research.



Brian Wickham mugshotDr. Brian Wickham is the Managing Director of ConsultWickham, a consultancy business focused on using genetics and animal breeding to help ensure a healthy, high-quality and sustainable food supply for the future. He was the chief executive of the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation Society Limited (trading as ICBF) from 1998 to 2012. He led the development of ICBF from its inception. ICBF operates Ireland’s cattle breeding database, conducts genetic evaluations for all breeds (dairy and beef) and traits. It provides cattle-breeding information services to a number of service providers (milk-recording, herd books, artificial insemination field services and bull studs), farmers and the wider community through its website.  ICBF provides a large amount of data for research, and participates with partners throughout the world in a wide range of cattle-breeding research. Dr. Wickham gained his PhD from Cornell University under the direction of Prof C.R. Henderson in 1975. For the first 22 years of his career, he worked in New Zealand for LIC and its predecessors in a number of scientific, technical and managerial roles. He represented LIC internationally, and chaired the Interbull Steering Committee for its first 13 years of operation.


Posted in Uncategorised