Speakers

Dimitri Houtart

As the BBC Rural Affairs Champion, Dimitri Houtart plays a key role in covering rural issues, from the news to epic blue-chip series. With oversight of the BBC’s audio output for rural affairs, food, natural history, and the environment, Dimitri's influence extends to the daily news staple, Farming Today, and acclaimed series such as Rare Earth. Overall, he curates a portfolio of over 500 programs a year, and has earned numerous awards for his productions. A skilled communicator, Dimitri often chairs and moderates international conferences, lending his expertise to discussions on pressing global issues. Beyond professional work, Dimitri is passionate about environmental stewardship, food production, and advocacy for people with disabilities.

Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle

Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle is a French agronomist and has been the Director for Veterinary and Plant Health Questions, Food and Forestry at the General Secretariat of the Council since 2020.

Agnieszka Maliszewska

Since 2002, Agnieszka Maliszewska has driven the organisation of the International Dairy Community Forum, which gathers global experts, politicians, and diplomats. In 2008, she spearheaded the establishment of the Polish Chamber of Milk and has served as its Office Director since. As of 2019, Agnieszka acts as First Vice-President of Cogeca, and a member of the EFSCM since 2022. In 2013, she was awarded the Silver Cross of Merit by the President of Poland. In 2015, she received the Award of Honour for Merit in Economic Development of the Republic of Poland from the Minister of Economy. In 2021, she made history as the first Polish woman to be appointed a Knight of the Order of Agricultural Merit by the French Minister of Agriculture and Food.

Olivier de Matos

Olivier de Matos has served as Director General at CropLife Europe since 2021 and is an experienced Public Affairs professional, with a focus on media relations and crisis management. Prior to this, he was Secretary General at the European Centre for Ecotoxicology and Toxicology of Chemicals from 2017 until 2021, leading the association and promoting its scientific programme activities and initiatives. Before that he held various leadership positions at Burson-Marsteller (now BCW) where he worked for more than 15 years

Copa President

Damien O'Reilly

EU Affairs and Communications Manager Damien O'Reilly joined ICOS as EU Affairs and Communications Manager in November 2022. Damien runs the ICOS Brussels office, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of its establishment in 2023. He works on EU policy developments relevant to ICOS members. Previously, he spent 24 years as a broadcast journalist with RTE Radio 1. Before leaving the media, Damien presented Countrywide, an award winning farming, food and rural affairs programme. He also worked across other areas including news, sport and current affairs. Damien is a co-founder member of the European Network of Agricultural Journalists.

Lennart Nilsson

Lennart Nilsson was elected President of Cogeca in 2024. He has been a Board Member of the Federation of Swedish Farmers (LRF) since 2012 and has a long-standing commitment to the Swedish cooperative movement. He is President of a grain and supply cooperative Harplinge Lantmän and a member of the Lantmännen cereal cooperative. Since 1990, Lennart runs a mixed farm with arable crops and cattle breeding with his wife and two brothers in law. They manage a herd of 250 Charolais breeding cattle, 200 hectares of arable land and 100 hectares of pastures. He has also been heavily involved in Copa-Cogeca's working parties, and previously served as Vice-Chair in the cereals working party and as Chair of the Working party for Oilseeds and Protein Crops.

Copa Vice-President

Cogeca Vice-President

Florentin Bercu

Florentin BERCU has served as Cogeca Vice-President since 2023 and Executive Manager of UNCSV since 2018. He is a founding member of the Agricultural Cooperative Armonia Munteni Buzau since 2021 and the executive director of UNCSV(member of the Alliance for Agriculture and Cooperation in Romania), since 2018. He comes from South East Romania, and has been a farming enthusiast since childhood. Florentin has always been a fervent defender of the associative and cooperative model of agriculture in his country. Florentin holds a doctoral and postdoctoral degree in which he analyzed the social and economic activity of modern agricultural cooperatives.

Christian Høeg-Andersen

He has been owner of the farm Luenhøj since 1995, currently cultivating 340 hectares of arable land. Christian joined the Board of the seed corporation DLF, one of the largest seed corporations in the world, in 2003 and has been the Chairman since 2013. Prior to that, he was Vice-Chairman for two years. Furthermore, he is the newest member of the Danish Agriculture and Food Council’s top political management, the Joint Presidency, which he joined in December 2021. Christian holds a master’s degree in Agricultural Science from the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University in Denmark

Marcel Ciolacu

Florin-Ionuţ Barbu

István Nagy

Peter Strohschneider

Peter Strohschneider is Professor Emeritus for German Medieval Studies at the University of Munich. From 2020 to 2024 he chaired the Commission on the Future of Agriculture appointed by the German Federal Government. As Special Adviser, Peter Strohschneider chairs the Strategic Dialogue on the Future of EU-Agriculture, launched in January 2024. He obtained his Doctorate in 1984 and his Habilitation in 1991. Peter Strohschneider has been fellow at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Paris), the universities of Freiburg and Frankfurt, the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin, and the International Science Council. He holds the German Federal Cross of Merit (1st class) and is a member of numerous national and international organisations.

Wolfgang Burtscher

Wolfgang Burtscher has been Director General of the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development at the European Commission (DG AGRI) since April 2020. Previously, from 2009 to 2020, he was Deputy Director-General of DG Research and Innovation, where he was responsible for agriculture, food and health. From 2000 to 2009, he was Director at DG AGRI, and responsible for legal issues, quality policy and the control of agricultural expenditure. Before 2000, he was a representative of the Federal States in the Permanent Representation of Austria to the EU.

DG Trade

Prof. Dr. Stefan Schepers

Stefan Schepers is the Executive Director of the High Level Groups on EU Policy Innovation and their platform Centre Condorcet. He also serves as a visiting professor at Henley Business School, University of Reading, and at the University of South Africa in Pretoria. Previously, he was the Honorary Director General of the European Institute of Public Administration in Maastricht and has consulted for business and governments. Schepers holds masters degrees in Law from the University of Leuven and in Advanced European Studies from the University of Strasbourg, and a PhD in Political Sciences from the University of Edinburgh. His notable publications include "Reimaging Africa" (2023), "Innovation, Governance and Entrepreneurship" (2017).

Stefan Top

Stefan Top represents the Belgian Federation Agoria on the CEMA Board since 2011. In 2016 he was elected Vice President of the CEMA Board for which he served for 2 terms. Since 2019 he acts as a president of the business group for agricultural and horticultural machinery within Agoria. He has worked with the AVR company since 1993, where he started as a Design Engineer. Having worked in different positions within the company Stefan was appointed Product Manager in 1999, and Sales Director and Board member in 2003. Since 2011 he acts as Managing Director for the AVR company. Stefan holds a master’s degree in Electro Mechanical Engineering and a master’s degree in Industrial Management from KU Leuven.

César González

Marzia Di Pastina

GAIA EPICHEIREIN

Lantmannen

Andrea Rubini

Andrea Rubini is Director of Operations at Water Europe, overseeing Implementation and Collaboration Programs, and represents Water Europe in Water4All, and Process4Planet Partnerships. For the past 20 years, he has been involved in European lobbying in Brussels, gaining extensive knowledge of EU R&I policies. He served as an R&I expert for the Lombardy Region and worked at the European Commission's DG for Regional and Urban Policy. Andrea has collaborated with UNDP, UNFPA, ILO, and AfDB in Africa and South Asia. Andrea holds an MSc in Water Resources Engineering and has over 30 years of international experience in the water sector, focusing on climate change's impacts on different ecosystems.

Adriano Battilani

Adriano Battilani is Secretary General at Irrigants d'Europe, external expert of the Italian National Association of Agricultural Water Board and serves on the Board of the Euromediterranean Irrigators Community. He has over 42 years of experience as a researcher and project manager for topics such as precise irrigation, water governance, sustainable cropping systems and EU policies. Adriano has authored more than 250 papers and has served as keynote speaker in more than 100 international symposiums. Among his other positions, he has acted as Chair of the Water Supply-Irrigation section of the International Society of Horticultural Science, and as Coordinator of the Melcoptor Food Industries and Universities Network

Claudia Olazabal

Claudia Olazábal has served as Head of the Sustainable Freshwater Management Unit at the Directorate General for the Environment of the European Commission (DG ENVI) since 2022. At DG ENVI she previously spent three years in the Sustainable Resources - Consumption and Waste Unit, then became Head of the Soil Sector in the Agriculture, Forests and Soil Unit. She also served as Deputy Head of the Biodiversity Unit and 9 years Head of the Land Use & Management Unit. Claudia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Radiochemistry from the University of Strasbourg and a Master’s degree in Science from the University of Texas at Austin.

Maira Dzelzkaleja-Burmistre

Maira Dzelzkaleja-Burmistre is vice-Chair of Latvia's biggest farmers organisation - "Farmers' Parliament" (Zemnieku Saeima), which represents farmers' interests both at national and EU level. Her professional competences focus on issues related to sustainable and competitive farming, EU agriculture and rural development policies within the EU, and she previously served as Vice-President of Copa and Chairwoman of Copa-Cogeca's Working Party on Rural Development. Maria has over 25 years experience combining both theory and practice in her award-winning family farm, which operates using the most advanced technologies, while also taking care of resource efficiency and the environment. Maira holds a Master of Science in Economics (M.Sc.Econ)

Rafael Casielles

Since 2023, Pedro Cordero Castillo has served as President of FEFAC, the voice of the compound feed industry in Europe. He is also Director of Institutional Relations & Strategy for Nutreco Iberia, providing strategic leadership for activities in Spain and Portugal. In addition, at CESFAC, representing Spanish animal feed companies, he is vice-President of the Board of Directors. Moreover, Pedro has been integral to the activities of Nanta since 1990, holding key positions including Managing Director. Pedro holds a degree in veterinary medicine, along with an MBA.

Tessa Avermaete

Tessa Avermaete is a postdoctoral researcher at the KU Leuven, from which she also graduated in 2000 as master in Bio-engineering. She now holds a PhD in Applied Biological Sciences. Her key areas of expertise are food and nutrition security, sustainable food systems, agriculture and sustainable diets. She manages several European consortia and works regularly as an expert for the European Commission. She is member of the board of the Young Farmers in Flanders, chairs the food and farming advisory board of the city of Leuven and she is a member of the expert board on Climate and Energy Plans for the Flemish Government. With prof Martin Van Ittersum (Wageningen University), she chaired the 5th Global Food Security Conference in Leuven 2024.

Enda Buckley

Enda Buckley has over 19 years’ experience in sustainability. Over the past 9 years he has spearheaded a number of sustainability initiatives and projects within the Carbery Group which have contributed to Carberry winning multiple sustainability awards. In 2021 Enda was named National Green Leader at the Green Awards in Ireland. Prior to his time at Carbery, Enda worked in his own consultancy - Sustainable Solutions, tutored at Dublin City University, worked as the Sustainable Transport Policy Officer for the Irish Environmental Network and was Sustainability Director at the National Newspapers of Ireland. Enda is a science graduate of NUI Galway and holds an MSc in the Management of Sustainable Development through Dublin City University.

Pedro Luis Cordero Castillo

Since 2023, Pedro Cordero Castillo has served as President of FEFAC, the voice of the compound feed industry in Europe. He is also Director of Institutional Relations & Strategy for Nutreco Iberia, providing strategic leadership for activities in Spain and Portugal. In addition, at CESFAC, representing Spanish animal feed companies, he is vice-President of the Board of Directors. Moreover, Pedro has been integral to the activities of Nanta since 1990, holding key positions including Managing Director. Pedro holds a degree in veterinary medicine, along with an MBA.

Iulia Sima

Ms. Sima runs Agroplant, a farm and agricultural cooperative that develops solutions to improve efficiency and profitability. Agroplant has started straw pellet production, which transforms straw collected from the field. Agroplant is currently developing solutions to achieve total self-sufficiency in electricity using solar panels.

Virginia Puzzolo

Virginia Puzzolo has served as Head of Programme in the Circular Bio-based Europe Joint Undertaking (CBE JU) since 2020. Before joining CBE JU, she spent 11 years at the Research Executive Agency of the European Commission, managing the implementation of the Space Research part of FP7 and Horizon2020 framework programmes for research and innovation. Virginia holds a PhD in ‘Plant Ecology and Biology in Mediterranean environment’. She started her career at the European Commission in 2004 in the Joint Research Center and then she moved to Directorate-General Enterprise and Industry (DG-ENTR, today GROW), where she was actively involved in the development of the European Union's Earth Observation Program: Copernicus.

Geneviève Pons

Geneviève Pons is an Honorary Director of the European Commission where she held several positions before becoming Director of the ILO’s Legal Service in 2013, and Director of the WWF’s European Office in 2015. Since 2017, she heads Europe Jacques Delors. Geneviève is considered by Politico as one of the most influential women in Brussels, notably in the field of environment – here she has over 30 years experience and from 1991 to 1995, was in charge of environmental and climate matters in the Delors Cabinet. Among her other activities, she also chairs the citizens engagement group of the EU Mission: Restore our Ocean and Waters, and is a member of the jury for the European Book Prize.  Geneviève is a Knight of the Legion of Honour.

CropLife Europe

Viorel Gutu

A national of the Republic of Moldova, Viorel Gutu was appointed to the post of FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia in February 2024. Prior to that he was FAO Subregional Coordinator for Central Asia and Representative for Türkiye and Uzbekistan. He joined FAO in 2014 as the head of the FAO Tajikistan office, leading the Country Office. Before joining FAO, Gutu was Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry in the Republic of Moldova. He also served as an economic affairs officer with the United Nations Transitional Administration in Timor-Leste, where he dealt with peacekeeping operations, poverty alleviation and the prevention of emergency situations. He holds a PhD in economics.

Doaa Abdel-Motaal

Doaa Abdel-Motaal is Senior Counsellor at the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agriculture and Commodities Division, in charge of external relations and outreach. She is the former Executive Director of the Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health, the former Chief of Staff of the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and former Deputy Chief of Staff of WTO. She was also the external assessor of the performance of the United Nations World Food Program in 2015 ahead of its new Strategic Plan.

Sébastien Abis

Sébastien Abis is Director of Club DEMETER, focusing on international and cross-sectoral issues relating to agriculture, food and sustainable development. He is also a Research Associate at the Institute of Strategic and International Relations (IRIS), focusing on geopolitical expertise on agriculture and food security. He teaches at the Université Catholique and Junia in Lille, and the UM6P in Rabat, Morocco. Among previous positions, he served in CIHEAM, an intergovernmental organisation, from 2005 to 2016. He has also published numerous books, most recently "Veut-on nourrir le monde? Franchir l'Everest alimentaire en 2050" in 2024. Sébastien is a reserve officer in the French Navy and a Knight in the National Order of Agriculture.

Peter Meedendorp

Peter Meedendorp has served as President of CEJA since June 2023. Prior to this he was appointed to the national board of NAJK, representing Dutch young farmers within CEJA. Peter is a young farmer from The Netherlands. He works in a partnership with his parents and brother on their arable family farm, where they grow starch potatoes, sugar beets, barley, onions, fiber hemp, and corn. They also provide contract work in the dairy sector and are involved in agricultural nature management. With a background in International Relations at the University of Groningen and Agricultural Economics from Wageningen University and Research, along with a passion for farming, he is actively engaged in national and EU agricultural policy.

Fertilisers Europe