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Neil Keane,Senior ASA President and Commercial Director for Ruminant Sales (Europe), Alltech

Neil Keane is Alltech’s Commercial Director for Ruminant Sales throughout Europe.
Following graduation from UCD with MAgrSc (ruminant nutrition) in 2001, Neil joined Midlands Agri Merchant and subsequently moved to the south west of England to take up technical and commercial support roles with a farmer-owned agri input supplier.
He joined Alltech UK in 2005 where he had responsibility for Scotland and the northern part of the United Kingdom concentrating on joint projects to deliver optimal efficiencies for end-user client. Promotion to a European role in 2009 saw him return to Ireland where he now focuses on developing profitable dairy systems tailored to the local customer’s needs.
Neil also has a postgraduate diploma in business management from the University of Plymouth and has completed an advanced management course at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.
He is the 65th President of the Agricultural Science Association.
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Jack A. Bobo,Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for Intrexon (ex USDA)


Jack Bobo has been Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer at Intrexon Corporation since July 2015. He has significant expertise in the analysis and communication of global trends in biotechnology, food and agriculture to audiences around the world and in 2015 was named by Scientific American one of the 100 most influential people in biotechnology today.
He joined Intrexon from the U. S. Department of State where he served as a Senior Adviser for Food Policy following his positions as Senior Adviser for Biotechnology and Chief, Biotechnology and Textile Trade Division. Through these key roles Jack Bobo was responsible for global outreach to foreign audiences and senior foreign officials across a variety of issues and led or participated in bilateral trade discussions and negotiations.
Prior to this, he was an attorney at Crowell & Moring LLP. He received a J.D. from Indiana University School of Law and an M.S. in Environmental Science from Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
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Frank O’Mara, Director of Research, Teagasc
Dr Frank O’Mara is Director of Research at Teagasc and a past ASA President. He has responsibility for leading Teagasc’s €65 million research programme which covers all aspects of agrifood research from soils to consumers.
He is also a contributor to a range of national and EU committees and bodies and a member of international scientific boards for AgResearch, New Zealand; SRUC, Scotland; and Luke, Finland.

He was previously Associate Professor of Animal Nutrition at UCD and has researched many aspects of animal nutrition, feed evaluation, animal production and the interaction of animal nutrition and the environment, particularly greenhouse gas emissions from animal production systems.’

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Professor Mark Keane, Senior Chair of Computer Science at University College Dublin (ex USDA)


Prof Mark Keane was appointed Chair of Computer Science at UCD in 1998. From 2004 – 2007 he was Director of ICT and then Director General at Science Foundation Ireland where he oversaw a €700 million plus research investment. He was also an adviser to the Irish Government on its €3.7 billion Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation and has held the post of Vice President for Innovation and Corporate Partnerships at UCD.

He holds a BA in Pure Psychology (UCD) and PhD in Cognitive Psychology (TCD) and has previously worked at the University of London, the Open University, Cardiff University and Trinity College Dublin, where he was made a Fellow in 1994. Prof Keane is also a Fellow of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science and a Fellow of the European Association of Artificial Intelligence, one of only 100 European Artificial Intelligence researchers to be honoured in this way.
In recent years he has been a PI in the Science Foundation Ireland’s Data Analytics Centre, Insight at UCD where he has championed the application of text analytics and machine learning techniques to data sets from agriculture.’

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Kevin Nolan, Nolan Farming


Co. Carlow tillage farmer Kevin Nolan has been using precision farming technology for more than ten years. Having started out in 2001 with 305 acres, he now farms just over 1,355 acres and will harvest approximately 1,800 acres in 2016.
Kevin utilises the best technology available as a means of increasing productivity and farm efficiency. This includes machinery technology, telematics and performance monitors, yield mapping, GPS and auto-steering systems.

Plans are currently in place to build new grain stores complete with a fixed grain dryer and solar panels fitted to its entire area as a way of providing year-round revenue for the business. Kevin has also secured planning permission for a 30-acre PV Solar Farm of which he will own 50% and benefit from 50% of all profits during its lifetime.
Kevin is the recipient of a number of industry awards including the 2014 Zurich Tillage Farmer of the Year, 2012 FBD Tillage Farm of the Year and 2009 Syngenta Sprayer Operator of the Year. He was also a 2010 Irish Nuffield Scholar.’

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Mr Timo Joosten, Senior Product Manager - Milking and Cooling, Lely International

Timo Joosten is Senior Product Manager – Milking and Cooling, at Lely International. He joined the company in 2000 and in October 2013 assumed responsibility for the world-wide activities of the Lely Farm Management Support department, developing strategies to help farmers make better use of sensor technologies and automation. He took on his current role in September 2015 which now sees him heavily involved in new product development and innovation.
Timo holds a BSc in Agriculture with a specialisation in dairy and an MSc in Agribusiness. In 2003, he and his wife started their own dairy farm in Ampoigné, France and, after an expansion, started robotic milking in 2007 with two Lely Astronauts Milking Robots.
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Dr. Robert Johansson, Chief Economist, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)


Robert Johansson was selected as Chief Economist at the Department of Agriculture (USDA) in July 2015. As Chief Economist, he is responsible for the Department’s agricultural forecasts and projections and for advising the Secretary of Agriculture on economic implications of alternative programs, regulations, and legislative proposals. He is responsible for the Office of the Chief Economist, the World Agricultural Outlook Board, the Office of Risk Assessment and Cost-Benefit analysis, the Global Change Program Office, the Office of Environmental Markets, and the Office of Energy Policy and New Uses.
Since 2001, he has worked as an economist at USDA (both at the Economic Research Service and in the Office of the Chief Economist) in the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget, and at the Congressional Budget Office. In 2011 he was appointed senior economist for energy, environment, and agriculture on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers where he also participated on the White House Rural Council and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Since 2012, Robert Johansson served as Deputy Chief Economist at the USDA and as Acting Chief Economist since January 2015.
Dr Johansson received B.A. in economics from Northwestern University and then served with the U.S. Peace Corps as an extension agent in several African countries from 1990 to 1995. After returning to his home State of Minnesota, he entered the graduate program in Agricultural Economics at the University of Minnesota at received his M.S. in 1997 and Ph.D. in 2000. His research has spanned a wide range of issues, including biofuels policy, water quality and quantity policies, regulatory economics, food security, and regional modelling of agricultural systems’
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Aidan Connolly, Chief Innovation Officer & Vice President, Corporate Accounts


Prof Aidan Connolly is Chief Innovation Officer and Vice President of Corporate Accounts at Alltech, responsible for the commercialization of Alltech’s global research in addition to corporate account strategy.
Based at Alltech’s corporate headquarters near Lexington, Kentucky, USA, his expertise lies in branding, agriculture and international marketing, and he is an adjunct professor of marketing at University College Dublin and China Agricultural University.

He is an executive board member of the International Feed Industry Federation, the National Chicken Council and the National Turkey Federation and a former board member of the European Union Association of Speciality Feed Ingredients and their Mixtures and the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association. He is also well-known for his annual Alltech Global Feeds Survey which assesses world feed tonnage and trends.
He holds a BA in commerce from UCD and a Masters Degree in International Marketing from the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.’

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Helen King, Director of Consumer Insight in Bord Bia


Helen is Director of Consumer Insight at Bord Bia – The Irish Food Board. With a background in economics and client-side consumer marketing at Cadburys, she brings a strategic, consumer-centred approach to business, turning cutting edge insight into actionable plans for Irish companies.
She has nurtured and guided many Irish brands’ success and her initiatives have helped to further Ireland’s global reputation as a premium supplier of food and drinks.
Helen heads up a team of seasoned professionals at Bord Bia who work with companies ranging from artisan start-ups to household-name multinationals to develop innovative strategies that build resilient brands and enable commercial success.
She is a regular speaker at international conferences, has won multiple awards and has been referenced in numerous talks and in trade, consumer and academic publications.’
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Bryan Doocey, Agri Advisor AIB


Bryan Doocey graduated from UCD with a BAgrSc (hons). He then moved to Kilkenny to work for Glanbia as a Business Manager and Branch Manager. Promotion enabled him to return home to Lismore, Co. Waterford to take over the family farm which is a grass-based spring milk production dairy farm that rears all required replacements.
In 2012, Bryan was appointed Senior Sales Manager at Arrabawn Co-op, overseeing a national sales team. Two years later, he joined AIB as an Agri Adviser covering Cork City and Waterford. He continues to be actively involved in the running of the family farm.’
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Chris Horseman, Editorial Director of Informa Agribusiness Intelligence (Agra Europe)


After graduating from the University of Birmingham (UK), Chris worked for a period of time at the European Commission before joining Informa.
Chris has been monitoring European agricultural issues as a journalist and editor since joining Agra Europe as Brussels Correspondent in 1987. He took up a senior editorial position in Agra’s UK office in 1991 and became Editorial Director in 2006.
His specialist areas include the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), agricultural trade policy and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and rural development policy.
Christ is a regular speaker and moderator at agricultural conferences and seminars and has made numerous appearances on television and radio news programmes’
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Joe Healy, President IFA


Joe Healy was elected President of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) in April 2016. He is a dairy, sheep and livestock farmer from Athenry and has been an active member of the IFA for more than 20 years, serving most recently on the Farm Business Committee as the Galway IFA representative.
Joe also sits on the board of the Agricultural Trust which publishes the Irish Farmers Journal and serves as a director of Bord Bia, the Irish food marketing board and FBD. He was President of Macra na Feirme from 1995-1997 and Vice Chairman of CEJA (European Young Farmers Association from 1997-1999.
As well as farming, Joe was also Livestock Markets Analysist with the Farming Independent newspaper from 2004-2016 and was Manager of Athenry Mart from 2004-2005, serving as its Chairman from 1998-2004. ‘
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Michael Brady, Agricultural Consultant and Managing Director, Brady Group Agricultural Consultants & Land Agents


Michael Brady is a well-established agricultural consultant and land agent, who provides specialist advice to farmers across the Republic of Ireland.
He graduated from UCD in 1987 with a BAgrSc (hons) and began his career as a Dairy Husbandry Adviser with the then Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food-ADAS UK. He returned to Ireland in 1989 to work with a private firm before establishing the Brady Group in 1995.
Michael completed a Nuffield Scholarship in 2005, where he studied advisory services in France, Australia and New Zealand.
He is passionate and enthusiastic about helping farmers to achieve their goals. Michael served as a judge in the National Dairy Farmer of the Year Competition in 2010 and is a past President of the Agricultural Consultants Association of Ireland.’
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Rhys Williams, UK Dairy Farmer

Rhys Williams is a dairy farmer from Wales. After completing a National Diploma course at the Welsh Agricultural College, he went on to work as a herdsperson on a farm in North Wales before travelling to New Zealand where he learnt about Sharefarming, something that had a lasting influence on his farming career and personal life as it showed him a way of life that allowed you to achieve your goals is you were prepared to work hard enough and make sacrifices.
In 2004, Rhys started sharemilking on the Llyn Peninsula and over the last 12 years has developed a business that milks 1,510 cows on a low-cost grass based system, 1,100 of which are owned. The farm comprises 200 acres along with an additional 1,900 acres of rented land. There are four dairy units of 300, 500, 350 and 360 cows, three of which are spring block calving, and one all year round. One is also a youngstock unit.
Rhys is a Nuffield Scholar who, in 2010, studied wealth creation in dairy farming. He is also a member of Grazing Gogs and Grasshopper discussion groups.’

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Colm McCarthy, Economist

Colm McCarthy is a graduate of University College Dublin and the University of Essex. He has worked at the Economic and Social Research Institute, the Central Bank of Ireland, the economic consulting firm DKM and at the Economics Department of University College Dublin.
He has served on the boards of the Electricity Supply Board, the Irish Gas Board and is currently a member of the Dublin Airport Authority. He chaired the Irish government’s public spending review (An Bord Snip) in 2009 and has also undertaken consulting assignments for the EU Commission and the World Bank. He has published over 40 technical articles on issues in applied economics in Irish and international journals, including the Economic Journal, the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, and the European Economic Review.
He writes regular columns for the Irish Farmers Journal and Sunday Independent. ‘

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Phelim O’Neill Markets Specialist, Irish Farmers Journal

Born and raised on a small farm in County Tyrone, graduated in Law from Queens University and holds a Master’s in Business Strategy from University of Ulster Jordanstown.

Entire working career has been spent around the meat industry. In Omagh Meats in a variety of roles between 1986 and 1997 then moving to the Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) in Northern Ireland as head of marketing and communication. Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association (NIMEA) the Trade Association for the meat factories in NI from 2007, until joining the Irish Farmers Journal in 2015. Served on several industry boards and committees, and presently a member of the Northern Ireland Food Advisory Committee (NIFAC) who advise the Food Standards Agency and the board of Agriaware.

Other interests include golf, cycling and an avid supporter of Tyrone GAA and Ulster Rugby

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Professor Willie Donnelly, President, Waterford Institute of Technology


Prof Willie Donnelly was appointed President of Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) in April 2015, having held the position of Head of Research and Innovation at the Institute for the previous 10 years. He is also Chair of the Telecommunications Software and Systems Group (TSSG), a world class research mobile service and communications management research centre.
His main research interest is the management of next generation networks, including smart agriculture and, in particular, the development of integrated communications management solutions and decision support systems for secure food production.
Prior to entering academia Prof Donnelly worked for 15 years in the telecommunications and utilities industries. He has led more than 30 Pan-European projects working with key international industry players such as Ericsson, D-Telekom, ATOS and Nokia. He is the Irish representative on the European member state Future Internet Forum and a founding member of the European Digital Enlightenment Forum which is an expert level Think-Tank providing guidance to Europe on Digital Policy.’
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Keelin Shanley, Journalist, RTÉ


Keelin Shanley is a journalist with RTÉ and works as a presenter on Morning Ireland. Three times IFTA award winner, she previously worked as a presenter on RTÉ’s daily news programme, Morning Edition, and as a reporter on RTÉ’s flagship current affairs programme, Prime Time, making a number of landmark documentaries including an investigation into sex trafficking and the cocaine trade.
Keelin has also worked for Radio France International and for CNN World Report. She has covered stories in a number of developing countries including gang wars in Honduras, conflict in Liberia, the aftermath of Haiti’s earthquake and the use of child soldiers in Joseph Kony’s ongoing war in Northern Uganda. ‘
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Matt O’Keeffe, Editor, Irish Farmers Monthly


Matt O’Keeffe is a farmer, journalist and commentator. He runs an intensive dairy farm in partnership with his brother and nephew at Clara, Co. Kilkenny and is also Editor of the Irish Farmers Monthly.
He has a long track record of involvement in educational and farming organisations at local and national level. He is a former president of Macra na Feirme, former chairman of the Farm Apprenticeship Board and former vice chairman of the IFA National Dairy Committee.
Matt also presents a weekly farming programme on the local Carlow/Kilkenny radio station KCLR 96FM.’
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Bill Callanan, Chief Inspector, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM)


Bill Callanan is Chief Inspector at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM). He is responsible for the provision of advice on the practice of agriculture and on science and technology related to the agrifood sector within DAFM. Heading up the Agricultural Inspectorate, with over 200 graduates across the Department, he has direct responsibility for DAFM’s research, feed and fertiliser, pesticides, crops, animal breeding, horticulture/plant health and nitrates/biodiversity divisions.’
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