Investors and fund managers putting capital to work in U.S. agri

The Fifth Annual Agri Investor Chicago Forum will bring together top institutional investors, family offices, fund and asset managers, regulators, advisors and producers for an editorially rich discussion of agriculture as an investment opportunity.

Attendees will network with agribusiness leaders and connect with key decision makers at the only US event exclusively focused on fundraising and investment in global agriculture.


  • AgTech
  • Impact investing
  • Farmland investing
  • Water investing
  • How to get the greatest ROI from agri ESG
  • LP perspectives- all things allocation

2019 keynote speaker


Jamie Shen

Chief Investment Officer

PGIM Agriculture Investments


In this role, Jamie leads the equity team in managing the portfolio of agricultural properties. Prior to joining Prudential in 2017, Jamie was an Executive Vice President and Practice Leader of Alternative Investments Consulting with Callan Associates where she had overall responsibility for Real Assets Consulting services.


Download the 2018 brochure to view:

  • 2018 speakers

  • 2018 agenda

  • Complete list of past event attendees

  • and more! 


2018 attendees

AGR Partners
Allstate Investments
Area One Farms
Brockshus Dairy
Capital Farm Credit ACA
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Demascus Peanut Company
Farmers National Co.
Georgetown University
Gladstone Land Company
Hancock Agricultural Investment Group
Illinois Soybean Association
LongView Farms
MetLife Agricultural Finance
Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development
Open Prairie
Renewable Resources Group
US Agriculture
Washington State Investment Board

Special Rate for Agri Producers

The Forum welcomes top agriculture producers* to attend at a special rate to address the most pressing topics in agri across the supply chain. In 2019, meet with investors and fund managers to build powerful relationships and discuss investment opportunities from your unique and expert perspective.

*primary producer, i.e. individual owner/operator ‘behind the farm gate’, across sectors.

2019 agenda

Interested in speaking at the 2019 Forum?

Please contact Rebecca Birch at or call +1 646-619-8132.

Day 1 Day 2
View agenda page


Day 1 - Tuesday 12th

General session
08:00 - 08:45

Registration and networking breakfast

08:45 - 09:00

PEI welcome & chairman’s introduction

09:00 - 09:30

Keynote presentation

Jamie Shen
A speaker photo for Jamie Shen

Jamie Shen

Chief Investment Officer, PGIM Agriculture Investments

Read bio
09:30 - 10:20

The “Agri Investor Nexus”- LP and GP perspectives

The number of global investment funds in food and agriculture assets jumped from 38 to 446 from 2005-2017; currently, assets are in excess of $73 billion. This can be very likely attributed to the increasing investor demand for alternative ways of investing and enhancing returns.

  • What are some of the tangible strategies, investment models and drivers that can impact investor interest in Agri and bring about the greatest ROI?
  • What are some of the implications of AgTech on the fund selection and fundraising process?
  • Where specifically are LPs and GPs alike turning their attention towards in the Ag space?
  • How are LPs navigating the vast Agri landscape given the numerous funds and investment opportunities that currently exist and continue to emerge?
10:20 - 10:40

Special presentation

10:40 - 11:00

Networking break

11:00 - 11:50

AgTech- disruption and digitalization in an antiquated industry dating back to “B.C.”

Agriculture has notoriously been seen as the “last frontier” of digitalization, yet it is responsible for food production, population sustainability and environmental impact. AgTech however, has evolved exponentially, and will continue to evolve- now it’s a matter of implementation.

  • What does this AgTech boom mean for those on the investment side of things and what specifically in AgTech can offer both innovation and strong returns?
  • As AgTech continues to evolve, can it truly disrupt the current Agri system to the point where urban farms being ran by millennials becomes the norm?
  • What are some of the challenges that inhibit these technologies from getting into the hands of both small farmers and Big Food alike?
  • What are the latest developments in Precision AgTech, and how are these various forms of robotics, sensors, drones, etc., currently being put into practice at the farm level?
11:50 - 12:40

GP perspectives- why agri and why now?

For a relatively “niche” area of investments, the Agri fund space is quite vast, and with this comes increased opportunity, curiosity, as well as uncertainty. One thing is for sure, private equity firms and GPs across the spectrum are, nonetheless, turning their attention towards agri.

  • What subsectors of Agri are appealing to GPs in both the short and long-term?
  • What are return expectations for investments in Agri, and what are some of the variables that affect these trajectories accordingly?
  • What are some of the do’s and don’ts of deals in the market today?
  • What are the current fund demographics across the Agri space and what role does this play in considering whether or not to expand Agri platforms?
  • What is the current “risk appetite” of those in the Agri investment space?
12:40 - 14:00

Networking lunch

Breakout session I
14:00 - 14:50

Track A: The real “green new deal”- exploring all things cannabis, CBD and hemp

Cannabis, hemp and CBD tend to be polarizing when it comes to investor interest, but given hemp’s recent regulatory win under the 2018 Farm Bill, coupled with cannabis sales projections being estimated to be a whopping $23.4 billion by 2022, motivation to invest will continue to rise.

  • What specific opportunities in cannabis can yield the greatest ROI, while best avoiding risk and regulatory complexities?
  • Are CBD and hemp trends that are here to stay, or just buzz words of the moment?
  • What are some of the lesser known risk factors that those entering the space should be aware of?
  • How can those interested in investing, but with conservative principals or institutions, reconcile the balance between potential reward and firm ideologies?
14:00 - 14:50

Track B: “Fruitful Returns”- opportunities in food and organics

Food is always something that is in demand and is growing as an industry at about 3 percent per year. Organic foods in particular, are becoming exponentially more popular because of their nutritional and environmental benefits. The challenge however lies in navigating this vast space.

  • How can investors capitalize on the food industry’s many emerging trends?
  • What are some of the potential roadblocks and regulatory obstacles across investments in the food industry to be aware of?
  • What areas of organics can still be profitable, despite the increased cost factors involved at the production level?
  • How does the move towards urban farms impact the food industry as a whole?
  • What opportunities are GPs considering in the food space and what are ways to decipher food trends from the many fleeting fads?
Breakout session II
14:50 - 15:40

Track A: Timber investing- because “Money Does Grow on Trees”

Timber is always in the Agri conversation, but it is oftentimes met with a lot of skepticism given the risks associated and lackluster performance as of late. However, there are certain timber investing opportunities that, on the contrary, can offer high returns that far outweigh the risk.

  • What opportunities in timber investing are on the horizon and what regions should investors look to for these opportunities accordingly?
  • How are firms deciphering what areas of timber will offer more reward than risk?
  • What are some of the variables in the market to look out for that can affect overall timber performance?
  • How is the timber market evolving and how should timber allocation evolve accordingly?
14:50 - 15:40

Track B: Aquaculture- since when did Silicon Valley start caring about fish?

Aquaculture, yes “fish farming” believe it or not, is huge with Silicon Valley venture capitalists these days. This however is with good reason- the global human population is projected to eat 30 million tons of fish by 2030, yet the industry is still decades behind all other livestock industries.

  • How can investors access some of the emerging opportunities in aquaculture and what are overall return expectations?
  • What are some of the regulatory challenges to be aware of when considering entering the aquaculture space?
  • What opportunities in aquaculture are appealing to VCs, in terms of both investment potential and innovation?
  • Given the increasing demand for fish, when can we see aquaculture go from being a niche area of Agri, to a staple in fish acquisition worldwide?
Afternoon sessions
15:40 - 16:00

Networking break

16:00 - 16:50

LP Perspectives- All Things Agri Allocation

Agri investments are plentiful, but the complex and nuanced regulations can leave most investors feeling a bit trepidatious. There are however some prominent CIOs that are up for the challenge, and have been able to, in turn, reap the returns of this typically overlooked asset.

  • What exactly goes into an investment committee’s decision to incorporate Agri investments into their portfolio, and what are some areas in this space they are specifically looking to for increased returns, in both the short and long-term?
  • What is involved in the investment research and return monitoring process, and what are ways to most effectively assess the numerous Agri funds and investment opportunities out there?
  • What are some of the risk factors future investors should be weary of when it comes to Agri and how are current investors mitigating some of those risks accordingly?
  • Do current investors, both on the private wealth and institutional side of investing, foresee their overall allocation to Agri expanding and, if so, in what subsectors?
16:50 - 17:50

“Food-for-Thought” networking reception

To all of you foodies, it’s your lucky day! Food is the driving force for Agri, so what better way to explore trends in food than to have a tasting of some of the most innovative (and delicious) foods taking the Ag world by storm. In addition to having our traditional post-event cocktails, make sure you save your appetite, and come and join us for some tasty treats. We will also be crowning a winner, so don’t get too full and make sure to vote for your favorite!


Day 2 - Wednesday 13th

General session
08:00 - 08:45

Registration and continental breakfast

08:45 - 08:50

PEI welcome

08:50 - 09:20

Keynote interview- the government’s perspective on agri Investing

09:20 - 10:10

“The Goldilocks Period” of farmland investing

Farmland globally, is an almost $9 trillion dollar industry, and has yielded returns of over 10% in the U.S. alone over the past 47 years. Not to mention, farmland is a contra-cyclical, inflation-resistant investment with an overall low volatility level.

  • Are the claims by experts saying that we are in the “Goldilocks period” of farmland investing opportunities right now truly accurate?
  • What are some of the emerging opportunities in farmland across domestic and international markets?
  • What are some of the barriers, misconceptions and risks to pay heed to along the way to maximize returns?
10:10 - 10:30

Networking break

10:30 - 11:20

The “Environmental Asset”- how to get the greatest ROI from agri ESG

The current industrial food system is a significant producer of global greenhouse gas emissions, but despite the damage that has already been done, there are some emerging forms of Agri innovation that scientists say can actually help in the reversal of climate change.

  • What are areas in Agri that can create “impactful” returns, both financially and environmentally speaking?
  • How can these socially responsible investments in Agri be measured both quantitively and qualitatively?
  • Is regenerative and vertical farming truly the next wave of Agri, and, if so, what are some of the specific investments in this space to consider?
11:20 - 12:10

Global markets- where in the world are the best agri investments?

Agriculture represents 15% of global GDP, and employs nearly 40% of the world’s workforce, so it goes without saying that there is no shortage of investment opportunities in this space across international markets. However, the competition for natural resources and complex national and international governance policies, can be a roadblock to investor accessibility.

  • What are some of the specific international opportunities and trends in the Agri space to consider in the short as well as long-term?
  • What subsectors internationally are producing high returns?
  • What are some strategies to mitigate the risks and complexities that can come about along the way?
12:10 - 13:00

Water investing- what opportunities actually “hold water"?

There is a plethora of investment opportunities in the water space, and despite the inherent volatility, the returns are projected to rise quite significantly in 2019.

  • What specific types of investment opportunities in the water space can offer substantial returns?
  • What are some international hot beds for water investing and what can allocators do to take advantage of the gains, while minimizing the room for loss?
  • What are some of the regulatory complexities that come about in the wake of tariff changes and future trade uncertainties?
13:00 - 14:00

Networking luncheon and end of conference

2018 speakers

Interested in speaking at the 2019 Forum? 

Please contact Rebecca Birch at or call +1 646-619-8132.

Kushal Agrawal

Partner & Chief Financial Officer, Aspada Investment Advisors

Kushal is Partner & CFO at Aspada and has been a part of team since its inception. Kushal leads the food and agri practice at Aspada. Further, he leads the initiatives on fund raise - both debt and equity for the entire portfolio and has played a key… Read full bio

Tom Amis

Senior Principal & Management Committee, Controlled Environment Foods, Equilibrium

Tom Amis has worked exclusively in the renewable energy and sustainability space for the past 15 years. He has assisted clients in the development, structuring, financing, acquisition and disposition of renewable energy and sustainability projects in… Read full bio

Peter Anastor

Director, Agriculture Development Division, Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development

Peter Anastor is the Director of the Agriculture Development Division at the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). In this position, Peter is responsible for leading activities focused on food and agriculture development,… Read full bio

Atish Babu

Vice President, Agricultural Capital

Atish is part of the product development team, and is chartered with Agriculture Capital’s continued development of fund strategies in the sustainable agriculture sector. Prior to joining Agriculture Capital, Atish was a founding partner at Omnivore… Read full bio

Lara Banks

Managing Director, Makena Capital Management

Lara Banks is a Managing Director at Makena Capital Management, a global, multi-asset class investment manager providing a range of pooled investment vehicles with the objective of long-term, risk adjusted capital appreciation. She is responsible for… Read full bio

Alesha Black

Director, Global Food and Agriculture Program, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Alesha Black is the director of the Global Food and Agriculture Program at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. In this role she oversees research publications, public events on food security and nutrition, and represents the Council externally. Fr… Read full bio

Scott Bowman

Chief Financial Officer, Phylos

Scott Bowman is an experienced financial executive with experience in high-growth organizations as CFO and with 15 years as an investment banker focused on assisting companies with M&A, capital raises, and general financial advisory. Scott has an MBA… Read full bio

John Denniston

Executive Chairman, Shared-X

John Denniston is Chairman of the Board of Shared-X. Shared-X is an agriculture impact company aiming to generate strong investor returns, while at the same time lift thousands of smallholder farmers out of poverty. John was previously a Senior Partn… Read full bio

Scott Henry

Partner, Longview Farms

Scott is a 4th generation farmer and Partner at LongView Farms. He is responsible for business growth, process management, and the implementation of precision technology on LongView's seed and commercial acres. He graduated from Iowa State University… Read full bio

Joshua Humphreys, PhD

President and Senior Fellow, Croatan Institute

Joshua Humphreys is President and Senior Fellow of Croatan Institute and Co-Founder and Senior Strategist of the Organic Agriculture Revitalization Strategy (OARS). A leading authority on sustainable, responsible, and impact investing, and an outspok… Read full bio

Brian Iversen

Founder and Managing Partner, Cimbria Capital

Mr. Iversen is the Founder and Managing Partner of Cimbria Capital. He is based in Houston, Texas. Prior to founding Cimbria Capital, Mr. Iversen became an acknowledged specialist in private equity and portfolio company management at Riverstone Holdi… Read full bio

Chris Janiec

Amercias Editor, Agri Investor

Chris Janiec is a reporter with Agri Investor and previously wrote about non-bank finance for Private Debt Investor. A graduate of the NYU Center for Global Affairs, Janiec is also a member of the Carnegie New Leaders and the National Committee on Un… Read full bio

Brock Jenkins, CFA

Vice President, AGR Partners

Brock joined AGR Partners in 2016 and focuses on the management of new investment opportunities. He is based in the Chicago office and supports the investment activities of the AGR Team. Prior to joining AGR, Brock worked for Prudential Capital Group… Read full bio

Sanjeev Krishnan

Chief Investment Officer and Managing Director, S2G Ventures

Sanjeev is Chief Investment Officer and managing director of S2G Ventures, and he has been with the firm since its inception. Sanjeev has nearly 20 years of experience in sourcing, executing, managing and exiting venture and private equity investment… Read full bio

Steel Maloney

President, Cascade Earth Sciences, Valley Irrigation

Mr. Maloney is a hydrologist with more than three decades of experience focused on water resource management for agriculture and food processing from a due diligence, operational efficiency, and regulatory perspective. Mr. Maloney is the President of… Read full bio

Dr. Pamela G. Marrone, PhD

Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc.

Dr. Marrone is currently CEO/Founder of Marrone Bio Innovations (MBI), a company she started in 2006 to discover and develop bio-based products for pest management and plant health. On August 2, 2013, MBI listed its stock as MBII on NASDAQ. The compa… Read full bio

Paul McMahon

Managing Partner, SLM Partners

Paul McMahon is a co-founder and Managing Partner of SLM Partners, an asset management firm that uses investment capital to scale up regenerative, ecological farming and forestry systems. SLM Partners is building a team in New York and developing a n… Read full bio

David Muth Jr., PhD

Managing Partner, Alternative Equity Advisors, Peoples Company

David Muth is the Managing Partner for Alternative Equity Advisors, the capital deployment affiliate for Peoples Company. David is an entrepreneur building businesses that focus on agriculture data service technologies, creating economic opportunitie… Read full bio

Pete Nelson

President, AgLaunch Initiative

Pete Nelson is a life-long advocate for farmers and is the President of AgLaunch ( AgLaunch is championing a farm-centric innovation model to create and grow new companies addressing real-world problems in food and agriculture while… Read full bio

Justin "Biff" Ourso, CFA

Managing Director and Head of Nuveen Natural Resources, Nuveen

Biff Ourso is a managing director and head of Nuveen Natural Resources. Based in North Carolina, Mr. Ourso leads and manages the Company’s natural resource asset management platform comprising more than $10 billion under management (as of June 30, 20… Read full bio

Suzanne Petrela

Managing Partner, Red Reef Partners

Suzanne Petrela is the Managing Partner of Red Reef Partners. Founded in 2009, Red Reef specializes in investing in value-added annual, specialty and permanent crop farmland in the U.S. and Canada for professional investors. Red Reef’s dedicated team… Read full bio

Samuel E. Proctor

Founder & Chief Executive Officer, GTV Capital

Sam is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of GTV Capital. Prior to founding GTV, Sam was an attorney at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, where he focused his practice on financial services regulation. Sam holds a JD from the University of Chicago Law Schoo… Read full bio

Viki Radden

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Honor Harvest (HH)

Viki Radden is the founder and CEO of Honor Harvest (HH) LLC, a sustainable technology, agriculture and investment consultancy focused on regenerative agriculture, food production, distribution and agtech innovations. The firm’s mission is to optimiz… Read full bio

Anna Rath

President and Chief Executive Officer, Vestaron Corporation

With more than a decade of experience across multiple venture-backed ag-tech companies, Anna joined Vestaron as President & CEO in April 2018 to help lead the transformation of Vestaron from the R&D phase of its development through its commercial pha… Read full bio

Noah Sabich

Director and Founding Member, Cimbria Capital

Mr. Sabich is a Director and a Founding Member of Cimbria Capital. He is based in Houston, Texas and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Prior to joining Cimbria Capital, Mr. Sabich was the Director of Sustainability and Statesmanship at Rasmussen Public Affairs.… Read full bio

Bob Saul

Partner, Agriculture, Fiera Comox

Bob has more than twenty years of direct investment experience in the agriculture and forestry asset class in the United States and Central America where he has been responsible for more than US$3 billion in land based transactions. Prior to Fiera Co… Read full bio

Jim Schultz

Founder and Chairman, Open Prairie

Jim Schultz is the founder of Open Prairie and is responsible for the management of four private equity funds with investments in innovative technologies spanning agriculture, medical devices, and information systems. Funds invested by Open Prairie h… Read full bio

Agnus Selby

Managing Director, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets

Professional Qualifications Angus has a DPhil in Interest Group Politics and Land Reform and an MPhil in Development, both from the University of Oxford where he was a Beit Scholar. He also has a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours in Agricu… Read full bio

Jamie Shen

Chief Investment Officer, PGIM Agriculture Investments

Jamie Shen is the Chief Investment Officer of Prudential Agricultural Investments In this role, she leads the equity team in managing the portfolio of agricultural properties. Jamie is located in San Francisco. Prior to joining Prudential in 2017, Ja… Read full bio

Bruce Sherrick

Research Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Professor & Director, TIAA-CREF Cent, University of Illinois

Dr. Bruce J. Sherrick, is the Marjorie and Jerry Fruin Professor of Land Economics, and Director of the TIAA Center for Farmland Research in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics at the University of Illinois. He was nominated by the… Read full bio

Leland Strom

Partner, Open Prairie

Leland (Lee) Strom is a Principle with the Open Prairie Rural Opportunities Fund, RBIC. He previously served as CEO of FARM Illinois, a statewide initiative to ensure the region's leadership as a global hub for food and agriculture innovation. In 200… Read full bio

Jackson Takach, CFA

Director, Economic Research & Business, Farmer Mac

Jackson Takach, an economist and Director of Economic and Financial Research with Farmer Mac, is a Kentucky native whose strong ties to agriculture began while growing up in the rural town of Scottsville. He has since dedicated a career to agricultur… Read full bio

Asher Troppe

Chief Executive Officer, Tress Capital

Asher is the CEO of Tress Capital, a value-add private equity firm strategically embedded in the cannabis sector, founded in 2013. With nearly 20 years in finance, Asher spent over a decade as an independent trader in the U.S. equity and equity deriv… Read full bio

Dr. Joshua Woodward, PhD

Associate Professor of Agribusiness and Finance, Zaitz Family Sesquicentennial Faculty Fellow, Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

Dr. Joshua Woodard is an associate professor and the Zaitz Family Faculty Fellow of Agricultural Business and Finance at the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, and the Founder and CEO of Ag-Analytics.Org, a farm data platfor… Read full bio

Brandon Zick

Director of Acquisitions & Portfolio Management, Ceres Partners, LLC

Brandon Zick focuses on managing all assets of the farm portfolio, performing valuation analysis and due diligence of property acquisitions, deal sourcing and negotiating acquisition terms, tenant sourcing and ongoing relationship management and over… Read full bio
View all speakers

Sponsorship opportunities 2019

The Agri Investor Chicago Forum will offer a unique opportunity for organizations to raise their profile by meeting with the largest gathering of global agriculture capital across two days of sessions.

For exclusive sponsorship packages for 2019, contact Jimmy Kurtovic at or call +1 646-795-3273.

Event venue

Hotel accommodations are available at the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel (1 W Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60601). We have arranged a special conference rate of $299.00 + tax. Rooms are limited and are on a first-come-first-served basis; early booking is strongly advised. Click HERE to directly book.

1 W Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60601

Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel