2020 Virtual Conference Recap

In 2020, we gathered on Zoom for our first ever virtual conference. The conference theme, Food supply chain resilience and COVID-19 focused on understanding and addressing the unique challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has created for our food distribution system.

Our FDRS Board met virtually on October 12 and discussed plans for the future, including our next conference (hopefully in person!), upcoming plans for our journal, and more. We also welcomed one new board member, Dr. Aaron Shew (Assistant Professor at Arkansas State University) as Secretary/Treasurer.

While we usually welcome our student teams for our Food Marketing Challenge in person, this year student teams created videos which were shared with our judges. The teams were tasked with creating a plan to help a hypothetical fresh produce processor and distributor in Florida adjust their business model due to pandemic-induced foodservice closures. Our virtual competition allowed teams from farther afield to compete this year. Our winning teams hailed from Lincoln University in New Zealand (1st place), Massey University in New Zealand (2nd place), National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan (3rd place), and the University of Kentucky (honorable mention).

All of our other meeting activities took place on October 13, 2020. After a welcome from our President Karina Gallardo, we welcomed two keynote speakers, Tricia Kovacs, of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, and Cortney Cowley of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

Our keynotes were followed by a recognition of our 2020 award winners. Along with our student award winners, mentioned above we announced the following award recipients of our service and leadership awards:

  • Patrick J. Byrne Emerging Leadership Award -- Dr. Margarita Velandia (University of Tennessee, Knoxville)
  • Frank Panyko Distinguished Service Award -- Dr. Patricia McLean-Meyinsse (Southern University and A&M College)

We also honored the winners of our Richardson-Applebaum Outstanding Graduate Research awards and our Outstanding Undergraduate Research award:

  • PhD Dissertation: Dr. Shannon Allen, University of Alberta (Dissertation title: Improving the Diets of Children: Understanding the Decision-Making of Parents, Children, and Food Manufacturers; Dissertation advisor: Dr. Ellen Goddard)
  • MS Thesis: Aaron J. Staples, Purdue University (Thesis title: Consumer Willingness-to-Pay for Sustainability Attributes in Beer: A Choice Experiment Using Eco-Labels)
  • MS Case Study: Isabella T. Sanders, Georgia Institute of Technology (Case Study title: Strategic Market Deployment Planning: Farm-to-Table Logistics Platforms)
  • Undergraduate: Faith Parum, Texas A&M University (Thesis title: U.S. Consumers' Intake of Food at Home and Food Away from Home as a Complex Economic System)

We then heard a brief presentation from Dr. Shannon Allen, the 2020 winner of our Richardson-Applebaum Scholarship Award For Outstanding Ph.D. Dissertation on Food Distribution and Marketing. Throughout the afternoon, we heard 34 different presentations from our members and their students during our concurrent sessions. Finally, we wrapped up the meeting with a short business meeting to update the membership on our activities, including plans for 2021 meeting currently planned as an in-person conference in Dallas, TX.

Conference Schedule and Slides/Recordings

Day 1 – Monday, October 12

12-2 PM (Eastern): FDRS Board Meeting

Day 2 – Tuesday, October 13

11-11.15 AM: Introduction and conference guidelines

11.15 AM-12 PM: Keynote I - Tricia Kovacs, Deputy Administrator, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, Washington D.C.

[View a recording of this presentation] [View presentation slides]

Tricia Kovacs is the Deputy Administrator for Transportation and Marketing in USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, a role she took on just this year. She leads AMS grant programs, a research and data team focused on transportation of agricultural products from farm to market, a research and development team focused on local and regional food systems, and the USDA Farmers Market, a living laboratory for farmers market best practices. Tricia came to USDA in 2016 as local and regional food systems policy advisor in the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Administrator’s Office.  In that role, she coordinated efforts across USDA to support the local and regional food sector. Prior to joining USDA, Tricia managed Regional Markets programs at Washington State Department of Agriculture, where she was founding Program Manager for the state Farm to School Program and also led the Small Farm Direct Marketing Program. Tricia was lead author on publications that help farmers and buyers understand complex market requirements, including Bridging the GAPs Farm Guide: Good Agricultural Practices and On-Farm Food Safety for Small, Mid-Sized and Diversified Fruit and Vegetable Farms, and A School’s Guide to Buying Washington-Grown Food. Tricia holds a M.Sc. in Sustainability, Planning, and Environmental Policy from Cardiff University in Wales and a BA from University of Virginia. Originally from rural Appalachian Virginia, she lives with her husband and two children in Washington D.C.

12-12.05 PM: Break

12.05-12.50 PM: Keynote II - Cortney Cowley, Economist, Oklahoma City Branch Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

[View a recording of this presentation] [View presentation slides]

Cortney Cowley is an agricultural economist at the Oklahoma City Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. In this role, she supports the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and the Federal Reserve System efforts surrounding agricultural economics research, analysis and outreach.

Cortney conducts research on issues related to the farm economy, agricultural finance, and natural resources. She is a contributor to the Bank’s Economic Review research journal, the Tenth District Survey of Agricultural Credit Conditions and the Agricultural Finance Databook. Cortney provides regular updates on the agricultural economy for the public, and for the Kansas City Fed’s president – a member of the Federal Open Market Committee.

Cortney joined the Bank in 2015 after completing her Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University. She also holds a B.S. degree in Biosystems Engineering from Oklahoma State and a M.S. degree in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University.

12.50-1.00 PM: Break

1:00-1.15 PM: FDRS Award Presentations – Research, journal, service, and student case [View presentation slides]

1.15-1.30 PM: Richardson-Applebaum Award Winner Presentation [View presentation slides]

1.30-1.50 PM: Break – Enter concurrent session rooms

1.50-2.50 PM: Concurrent Research Session I

2.50-3.10 PM: Break - Enter concurrent session rooms

3.10-4.10 PM: Concurrent Research Session II

4.10-4.20 PM: Concluding conference comments