Building a Collaborative Ag & Food Economy

September 6, 2018

New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces, NM




Building unique partnerships to support innovation addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges.

Ag Assembly brings together ag-market leaders who take the stage to talk about demands from the frontlines, translating ideas from vision to reality, and the future of AgTech investment. The event will also give AgSprint startup companies the opportunity to pitch their products/services and engage with their corporate and funding peers in a one-on-one format.

Who Should Attend


Get an inside look at the up-and-coming trends and startups at the forefront of ag innovation


Meet the most promising new ag startups


Connect with investors, potential partners and customers. Plus, have the chance to give a 60-second pitch during the open mic session.

Firestarter: Sue McCloskey

Sue McCloskey was an art and art history student before being swept up in the world of dairy cows upon meeting her husband, Mike. They ran a successful dairy veterinary consulting practice in Southern California along with a 300 cow dairy in Redlands, California. In 1990 they sold the vet practice, moved to New Mexico and became full time dairy farmers. In New Mexico, they created Select Milk Producers, now the nation’s 6th largest dairy cooperative, and began thinking about how to make milk more relevant to consumers and how to tell the story of modern agriculture.

In 1999, Mike and Sue moved to Northwest Indiana to create one of the largest dairy farms in the country and simultaneously opened Fair Oaks Farms, the country’s largest and most recognized agritourism attraction. Sue has been the Creative Director for Fair Oaks Farms as well as serving as a spokesperson for fairlife, Select’s dairy-based health and wellness company.

Sue McCloskey

View Our Speakers


10:00 AM


10:30 AM

Opening Remarks & Regional Outlook

  • Dr. John Floros, President at New Mexico State University
  • Dr. Rolando Flores, Dean & Chief Administrative Officer College of Agricultural, Consumer & Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University

10:45 AM

The Science of Taking Action

After studying with psychologists, sociologists, neuroscientists, and drill sergeants, Steve shares what sparks people to act or holds people back from taking action.

  • Steve Garguilo, Co-Founder at Action Surge, & Partner at Cultivate

11:15 AM

Firestarter: Innovation at Work in Agriculture

The story behind one of the dairy industry’s biggest disruptors.

  • Sue McCloskey, Co-founder at Select Milk, Fair Oaks Farms, and fairlife

Moderator: Anders Porter, Vice President of Communications at fairlife

11:45 AM

Innovation Spotlight: AgSprint

7-minute demos from the stars of AgSprint. A unique opportunity to hear presentations from the AgSprint cohort, the Southwest’s most compelling early-stage startups in AgTech.

  • Nathan Dorn, Founder and CEO at Food-Origins
  • Arina Caster, Founder at Sustainable Planet Solutions
  • Rachael Ryan, Co-Founder at Backyard Farms

12:15 PM


1:30 PM

Future Proofing Food: Agriculture and the Collaborative Economy

An inside-out view of corporations – how they work and evaluate opportunities to partner with startups.

  • Ray Laudano, President at NPD Strategies, Inc. and former Senior Research Scientist/Assoc Principal Scientist, Kraft Foods Group
  • Todd Abraham, Senior Vice President of Research and Nutrition for Kraft Foods/Mondelez International, Retired
  • Brock Furlong, President and CEO at Stampede Meat, Inc

Moderator: Janiece Greene, Senior Adviser, Technology & Digital Integration, Purdue University’s Agile Strategy Lab

2:15 PM

Innovation Spotlight: AgSprint

7-minute demos from the stars of AgSprint. A unique opportunity to hear presentations from the AgSprint cohort, the Southwest’s most compelling early-stage startups in AgTech.

  • Alex Gorsuch, Co-Founder and CTO at FieldMAK
  • Charlie Paynter, Founder at Dr. Child’s Herbal Remedies
  • Cliff Hudson, Co-Founder and CTO at Systems Technology Solutions

2:45 PM

Investing Yields More than Crops

As the demand for food grows and land and water become scarcer, public and private investment is essential if food and agriculture is to fulfill its function of contributing to economic development, poverty reduction and food security.

  • Scott Dockum, Program Coordinator,  Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Innovations in Food and Agricultural Science and Technology (I-FAST) at USDA
  • Andy Lower,  Founder at ADAP (A Different Approach to Poverty)
  • Dr. Rebecca L. White, VP of Operations, iWi (Qualitas Health, Inc.)

Moderator: Estela Hernandez, Managing Director at Arrowhead Innovation Fund and Kauffman Fellow

3:30 PM

Open Mic

60-second pitches. FoodTech and AgTech startups from the Southwest will be selected to give pitches in a rapid-fire format.

3:40 PM

A New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in New Mexico

  • Jeff Witte, Director/Secretary, New Mexico Department of Agricutlure

4:00 PM


Sample some of the region’s best wines while enjoying tasty bites. Entrepreneurs are a sociable bunch; they enjoy interaction as well as transaction. This is a chance to meet like-minded individuals.

Open Mic

Ag Assembly invites FoodTech and AgTech startups from the Southwest to apply to pitch executives, investors, media, government, entrepreneurs, and other ecosystem contributors. We know entrepreneurs need to be judicious with their time. If you are going to pitch, pitch wisely and pitch to the right people. If you are developing something in the food and agriculture space, regardless of business maturely, presenting at this event will be time well spent.

Up to ten startups will be selected to give 60-second pitches to describe their venture and what additional skills and help they are looking for from the food, agriculture, and entrepreneurial community. Registration fees will be waived for Open Mic presenters.

Space is limited and submissions must be received by August 16, 2018 at midnight.

Powered by Arrowhead’s Premier Partner

Event Sponsors

Premier Hotel Sponsor

Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces

Contributing Sponsors

College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences


NPD Strategies, Inc.

!NNOVATION that leads to commercialization

Past Partners and Sponsors

Get In Touch

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