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Don Close is an animal protein analyst at Rabo AgriFinance in the RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness group.
Close is responsible for analyzing all animal protein sectors, but specializes in beef. Prior to joining Rabo AgriFinance, Close served as market director for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association in Amarillo, Texas, representing cattle feeders in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. He previously held roles with AzTX Cattle Co. in Hereford, Texas; Future Beef Operations in Parker, Colorado; and PHI Marketing Services at Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. in Des Moines, Iowa.
Close has conducted research on a wide-range of topics including confinement cow/calf operations, LFTB, ground beef and development in international trade. He is also a regular speaker for state, national and international livestock groups across North America, Australia and New Zealand. Currently, Close authors bi-monthly columns for the National Cattlemen’s publication, and is working on market issues at the intersection of marketing and ag policy.
Close is a graduate of West Texas A & M. He has a bachelor’s agricultural economics.
Stephen Nicholson is a grains and oilseeds analyst at Rabo AgriFinance in the RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness group.
Nicholson has more than thirty years of experience in cash grain markets, hedging, commodity/ingredient procurement, commodity risk management and commodity analysis. A native of Iowa, he holds a bachelor’s in Farm Operations and Agricultural Education and a master’s in Agricultural Economics, both from Iowa State University.
Prior to joining Rabo AgriFinance, Nicholson was most recently Category Manager and Chief Economist with International Food Products, a trader and distributor of food ingredients. Responsibilities included procurement and trading of vegetable oils, corn sweeteners, starches and grain products, along with consulting assignments.
From 2001 to 2007, he was a Senior Economist with Doane Agricultural Services in St. Louis as the oilseed analyst.
Nicholson also has nearly fifteen years of experience in the food and beverage industry. He has served as Senior Buyer at The Earthgrains Company, now the Sara Lee Baking Group, in St. Louis. From 1988 to 1997, he was the Senior Commodity Analyst in the Global Procurement and Trading Company at The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta. While at Coca-Cola, he was involved in the creation of the first commodity risk management and governance policy framework for the company.
Mary Ledman is Global Sector Strategist for Dairy in the RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness Group and a thought leader who has extensive knowledge of domestic and international dairy markets and policy and over thirty years of experience in production agriculture, food processing, government service, agricultural policy, dairy risk management, market information and dissemination, and milk and dairy product price forecasting.
Prior to Rabobank, Mary held positions at the USDA, Kraft Foods, and Stella. She later founded Keough Ledman Associates, an economic consulting firm serving the dairy industry since 1995.
Mary holds a Bachelor of Science in agricultural journalism and a Master of Science degree in agricultural economics from Texas A&M University. Early in her career, she was awarded a Fulbright-Hayes Scholarship to conduct comparative research on US and European dairy policies.
Ben Laine is a dairy analyst at Rabo AgriFinance in the RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness group.
Ben started his career at Agri-Mark, a dairy cooperative in the Northeast where he developed trading and risk management programs for the cooperative's commercial dairy commodity businesses. He later developed programs for dairy producers to manage their milk price risk and produced price forecasts and economic outlooks.
Prior to joining Rabo AgriFinance, Laine was a senior economist at CoBank, covering the dairy industry. His research has spanned the dairy supply chain from farm inputs through the processing sector, consumer trends and export markets.
Laine grew up in Massachusetts and earned a bachelors and masters degree in resource economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Several other members of the global RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness team visit frequently with Rabo AgriFinance clients and attend Rabo AgriFinance events. Information about these and other analysts can be found on the RaboResearch website.