Nilsestuen Legacy Event Addresses Agribusiness Issues

UW-River Falls will host the 11th annual Rod Nilsestuen Legacy Event on March 23 from 2-3:15 p.m. in the Riverview Ballroom of the University Center. The event is free and open to the public.

There’s also a livestream option via

The talk will focus on “Agribusiness Issues Under A Changing Economic and Political Landscape” as presented by Cesar Escalante, professor of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Georgia and Marc Bellemare, Northrop professor of applied economics at the University of Minnesota.

Escalante’s research specialization spans from traditional agricultural finance, extending to more applied labor, health, and development economics research. His research and service efforts to promote financial inclusion, diversity and equality earned him the 2022 Ketchum Prize, a prestigious award from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Investor Education Foundation.

Bellemare is a Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Distinguished University Teaching Professor serving as editor of the American Journal of Agricultural Economics. In 2022, he was identified by Clarivate as one of “the world’s most influential researchers”— the select few who have been most frequently cited by their peers over the last decade. In 2023, he was elected Fellow of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association. His work has been featured in The Economist, the New York Times, National Public Radio, and the Wall Street Journal.

Nilsestuen, who earned his undergraduate degree at UWRF, was the Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection at the time of his death in July 2010. He is remembered as a proud steward of sustainable agriculture and a leader in the national cooperative movement who strove to balance the needs of sustainable land use with the maximization of agricultural production. Nilsestuen worked to find common ground on topics including the power of cooperatives, farmland conservation, the future of rural America and the increased pressure on agriculture to feed the world.

The Rod Nilsestuen Legacy Fund was established by friends, family, colleagues, and several land conservation and cooperative organizations, and is part of the Ralph K. Morris Foundation, an organization that shares Nilsestuen’s dedication to cooperatives and leadership development.