APRIL 3-5, 2019 // Hilton Austin Airport Hotel

Damian Mason // Gary Huddleston // Derek Scissors // Steve Kopperud // Congressman Mike Conaway

Thursday, April 4, 2019

DAMIAN MASON - 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.

Damian Mason is a Businessman, Agriculturist, Speaker, Podcaster, Writer, and Consultant. Damian speaks on the two subjects he knows best: Business and Agriculture. Since 1994, he has spoken to over 2,000 audiences in all 50 states, 5 provinces, and 7 foreign countries. 

Damian is a graduate of Purdue University. He also studied comedy writing and improvisation at The Second City - Chicago. Damian is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the National Speakers Association. He is one of less than 1,000 public speakers in the world to hold the Certified Speaking Professional designation.  

When he's not traveling for work, Damian can be found on his Indiana farm with his wife Lori or escaping from winter at their Arizona residence.


GARY HUDDLESTON - 11:25 a.m. - Noon

Gary Huddleston is the American Feed Industry Association’s director of feed manufacturing and regulatory affairs. He joined the association in May 2015 and has more than 30 years of service in manufacturing. 

Huddleston manages AFIA’s efforts surrounding regulatory issues involving the Food and Drug Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation. He also works to develop and coordinate AFIA’s education and training programs and is a FSPCA lead instructor for the Preventive Controls for Animal food course. Huddleston is the staff contact for the Equipment Manufacturers and Production Compliance committees. 

Prior to joining AFIA, Huddleston was employed by Southern States Cooperative, Inc., since 1984, where he performed numerous roles—from sales to manufacturing—and since 1998 worked as the plant manager of the Southern States Park City, Ky., location. 

Huddleston earned a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness and economics from Tennessee Technological University.


DEREK SCISSORS - 2:10 - 2:55 p.m.

Derek M. Scissors is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he focuses on the Chinese and Indian economies and on US economic relations with Asia. He is concurrently chief economist of the China Beige Book.

Dr. Scissors is the author of the China Global Investment Tracker. In late 2008, he authored a series of papers that chronicled the end of pro-market Chinese reform and predicted economic stagnation in China as a result. He has also written multiple papers on the best course for Indian economic development.

Before joining AEI, Dr. Scissors was a senior research fellow in the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation and an adjunct professor of economics at George Washington University. He has worked for London-based Intelligence Research Ltd., taught economics at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, and served as an action officer in international economics and energy for the US Department of Defense.

Dr. Scissors has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, a master’s degree from the University of Chicago, and a doctorate from Stanford University.


STEVE KOPPERUD - 3:20 - 4:05 p.m.

Steve Kopperud is principal of SLK Strategies, now primarily a Washington, DC, communications company.   

SLK Strategies, until December 31, 2018, was a government affairs consulting firm, as well.  Kopperud served as a contract lobbyist to several clients in agriculture, including as Congress/administration lobbyist for the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), the National Renderers Assn., and several production ag, agribusiness and biotech companies. 

Kopperud retired from registered lobbying as of January 1, 2019.    

Kopperud was executive vice president of Policy Directions Inc. (2000-2016). Kopperud was AFIA senior vice president for 18 years (1982-2000), responsible for federal/state government affairs. He was also treasurer of the Feed Industry Political Action Committee.

Kopperud’s client focus was on production animal agriculture, agribusiness, ag biotechnology and general domestic and international agriculture issues, including trade. 

Kopperud is founder and former president of the Animal Agriculture Alliance, a national education foundation. He also serves as a member of the board of trustees for the Texas-based foundation Feeding the Real World.

He is the former Washington bureau chief for American Broadcasting Corp.’s (ABC) magazine/newspaper publishing division, and is the former managing editor of Feedstuffs Magazine. 


Friday, April 5, 2019

CONGRESSMAN MIKE CONAWAY - 10:00 - 10:30 a.m. 

Serving  his eighth term in the U.S. House of  Representatives, Congressman Mike Conaway represents 29 counties in Texas’ 11th congressional district, including the cities of Midland, Odessa and San Angelo.

A conservative Republican, Rep. Conaway believes in the principles of lower taxes, smaller government and a secure nation. His background as a CPA gives him a unique perspective on fiscal responsibility and ensuring every taxpayer dollar is being spent wisely.

In the House, Congressman Conaway is the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Agriculture and also serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

He is a deputy Republican whip, a position he has held since the 112th Congress.

A native Texan, he grew up in Odessa and graduated from Odessa Permian High School in 1966 after playing on Permian’s first state championship football team. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting from Texas A & M University-Commerce in 1970.

After serving in the Army at Fort Hood, he returned to the Permian Basin with Price Waterhouse and settled in Midland, later working with George W. Bush as the chief financial officer for Bush Exploration. He developed a lasting friendship with President Bush as they learned together what it takes to run a business.

An ordained deacon in the Baptist church, Congressman Conaway and his wife, Suzanne, live in Midland and have four children and seven grandchildren.