Raised in Billings, Montana, and spending most of his time in the Beartooth mountains, Sam migrated west to San Francisco in 1975 to finish college, starting in the bean industry in the fall of 1980, with Berger and Company. 33 years later he is still in the industry, and since 1997 has overseen the bean trading for SKE Midwestern, Inc., a medium sized, Fargo, North Dakota based trading company, with additional offices in China, Ethiopia, and Bulgaria. A self-proclaimed dinosaur in the bean business, Sam has traveled extensively throughout the world’s major bean producing countries, spending most of his time in China, South America and Ethiopia over the last 15 years.
Sam has been on the board of two different bean shipper organizations, and a past representative of the National Dry Bean Council back in its fledgling years in the early 80’s. He regularly is asked to speak on the world situation of dry beans to various grower groups, as well as regional shipper associations. He has lived in Dubai and Peru in the last 10 years, and travels over 100,000 air miles each year evaluating crop conditions, touring foreign processing facilities, and visiting dry bean customers. Colorado is currently home, when “in country”, and when not on the computer or phone talking beans, you will find Sam either on the golf course or soccer pitch playing Geezer futbol.
Sharon Bomer Lauritsen is Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs and Commodity Policy, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Executive Office of the President. She assumed the position in May 2011.
Ms. Bomer has overall responsibility for negotiations and policy coordination regarding agriculture. Responsibilities of the office include Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and World Trade Organization (WTO) Development Agenda (Doha) negotiations on agriculture and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, issues affecting trade in agricultural and food products, monitoring and enforcement of existing WTO and FTA commitments for agriculture, and WTO accession negotiations on agriculture market access.
Prior to joining USTR, Ms. Bomer was Executive Vice President of the Food and Agriculture Section at the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) where she led BIO’s Food and Agriculture Section on public policy activities, including overseeing relationships with a wide range of international, federal, state and local entities.
Prior to joining BIO in 2006, Ms. Bomer served as Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Executive Office of the President, where she was responsible for U.S. government negotiations on a wide range of food and agriculture trade issues. Ms. Bomer has also held senior management positions in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service. Early in her career, she was Director of Government Affairs for United Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Association and worked for a Member of Congress.
Jennifer Bond is a senior agricultural economist with the Crops Branch, Markets and Trade Economics Division of the USDA Economic Research Service and currently coordinates the Wheat and Pulses Outlook programs. Jennifer joined ERS in July, 2012 and began working with the Feed Grains and Vegetable and Pulses Outlook teams, later also coordinating the Agency’s Pollinator Health Research Team from 2013 to early 2016. During her career, Jennifer has worked on topics ranging from commodity market analysis, consumer demand, cooperatives, industrial organization, agricultural finance, and pollinator health. Prior to joining MTED, Jennifer was a faculty member in the Agricultural and Resource Economics Department at Colorado State University (2005-2012). Jennifer received her Master’s (2003) and Ph.D. (2008) from the University of California, Davis and a B.S. (2000) in Agribusiness from Texas A&M University.
Andrew J.J. Fontaine
General Manager, V.P. Sales & Marketing
Spokane Seed Company
Born and raised in the Seattle area, Andrew became a loyal alumnus of Washington State University in 2000, graduating with an Advertising/Marketing degree. As the GM and V.P. of Sales for Spokane Seed Company, Andrew is responsible for all daily operations as well as all Domestic and International trading for the 107 year old company. Spokane Seed Company prides itself on supreme processing that permits them to supply the largest most recognized food companies in the world.
Andrew is a fourth generation pulse trader with 14 years’ experience selling Peas, Lentils and Chickpeas. He is a very active member of the US Dry Pea and Lentils Council. Andrew serves as the Domestic Marketing Committee Chairman. He is also the current Chairman of the Trade Association Board and is a member of the National Board. In his spare time he enjoys many outdoor activities and spending time with his wife and three sons.
Senior Merchandiser, Edible beans – Pulses, Viterra Inc.
Keven has spent the past two decades merchandising white beans, colored beans and chick peas for (Viterra / Glencore grain) and their heritage companies. Located in Southern Alberta he has seen tremendous growth in pulse crop production and global export opportunities. Keven provides market outlook and commentary to grower groups, industry associations and international meetings on a regular basis. Passionate about continued growth in pulse consumption, awareness and product innovation he gives ongoing support to various industry initiatives. Related experience; market development, processing plant and equipment design, implementation of quality management systems.
Rebecca Bratter, Executive Director –US Dry Bean Council
Rebecca has spent the last twenty years dedicated to global market development and trade for a variety of US agricultural commodities. Working closely with the US Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), she has represented the global trade interests of the US wood product industry, US wheat growers and farmers, US corn, barley, and sorghum growers and processors, agricultural technical providers, and traders such as Louis Dreyfus, Cargill, and ADM. In her current role, she provides leadership and vision to the global export market development interests of the US dry bean industry. She has also collaborated with both FAS and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) on humanitarian feeding and nutritional programs utilizing US origin commodities to provide sustenance for food insecure nations. She has been active in developing broad trade policy agendas to run in tandem with global market development activities and has represented US agricultural interests in bilateral and regional trade negotiations and at multilateral fora such as the World Trade Organization (WTO). A key aspect of her roles with various associations has been leadership of industry and association committees to achieve consensus among divergent interests with a view towards program excellence. To that end, together with other members of executive leadership, she has played a leadership role in several organizational development initiatives ensuring use of best practices and streamlining operations for efficiency. Before joining the US Dry Bean Council, Rebecca ran her own agricultural consulting practice, The Chaski Group, working with US agricultural trade groups on new market development and food aid policy. Rebecca has lived and worked all over the globe and is fluent in Spanish and speaks decent Portuguese, along with a smattering of other languages. An outdoor and tropics enthusiast, she lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and dog, Madiba.