Carl and Marjory Hertz Lecture on Emerging Issues in Agriculture

Carl and Marjory Hertz Biography

Monday, April 12, 2021, 7 p.m. (CDT)

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Dhamu Thamodaran (’83 PhD agricultural economics): Emerging Issues in Global Markets and Trade

Dhamu Thamodaran standing in front of Curtiss HallDhamu Thamodaran, retired executive vice president, chief strategy officer and chief commodity hedging officer for Smithfield Foods, has been a respected global leader in the agricultural industry for more than 30 years.

He joined Smithfield in 1995 as director of price risk management and advanced in the organization and was promoted to his current role in 2016.  At the time of his retirement in December 2020, Thamodaran led strategy development for Smithfield Food’s vertically integrated business and managed the company’s commodity hedging activities and global economics commodities research and analysis group. During his time with the organization, Smithfield Foods grew to become the world’s largest swine producer and processor.

Thamodaran’s expertise in understanding world agricultural markets, macroeconomics and the pork value chain make him a sought-after speaker nationally and globally at food and agricultural industry events. In 2019, Thamodaran joined the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group’s Agricultural Markets Advisory Council and was awarded the Iowa State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Henry A. Wallace Award.

During his time at Iowa State University, Thamodaran graduated summa cum laude in his doctorate program. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Gamma Sigma Delta honors societies.  An advocate for education, Thamodaran regularly shares his knowledge in university classrooms across the nation. Prior to his time on campus Thamodaran graduated with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture in 1978 from India’s Tamil Nadu Agricultural University and a master’s degree in agricultural economics and statistics from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in 1980.


  • Ken Isley, Administrator for the USDA Foreign Ag ServiceApril 9, 2019 – Ken Isley, head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service, “The Role of the U.S. in the Global Food and Agriculture Marketplace.” Isley is an Iowa State University alumnus with a degree in agriculture and life sciences education. He earned his juris doctorate from the University of Iowa College of Law. As administrator for the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, he leads offices around the world in expanding trade and export opportunities for American agriculture. He previously held various senior leadership roles for Dow AgroSciences. Video
  • Headshot of Amy AsmusApril 4, 2018 – Amy Asmus, vice president of the chemical supply company Asmus Farm Supply, “What Is Possible: Advancing Agriculture Through AGvocacy, Partnerships and Collaboration.” Asmus, a native of Walcott and an Iowa State alumna with a degree in graphic design, took an unlikely path to agriculture. She joined her husband, Harlan, in running the Asmus family business based in Rake, Iowa, which they purchased from his father in 2004. Asmus Farm Supply was honored with the National Retailer of the Year award November in 2017. Video
  • April 11, 2017 – Alan Barkema, retired senior vice president for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, “Pursuing Questions: Prospects for the Economy and Agriculture.” During his career in economic research and policy, Barkema served as senior vice president and director of research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, as professor and head of the agricultural economics department at Oklahoma State University and as a graduate research associate in the extension farm management office at Iowa State. Video
  • April 7, 2016 – Roger Underwood, entrepreneur and co-founder of crop-technology company Becker Underwood Inc. “Your future is short. Why waste it working for someone else?”  Underwood founded Becker Underwood in 1982 with high school classmate Jeff Becker. Together they developed a specialty colorant to mix with Roundup herbicide. Becker Underwood diversified into a global company producing specialty seed colorants and coatings and biological crop protection products. The company grew to $265 million in sales by 2013 and was sold to BASF. Video
  • April 1, 2015 – Ted Crosbie, Ph.D., Retired Vice President, Monsanto “Applying an Iowa State Education to Life: A Tribute to My Teachers.” Prior to his retirement, Crosbie held senior leadership positions at Monsanto since 1996 – most recently as vice president and executive leader of integrated farming systems. He also served terms as vice president of global plant breeding and director of global wheat breeding. Video
  • April 3, 2014 – Jim Blome, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience. Blome is the head of crop protection for the company’s North American region. Under his leadership, Bayer CropScience North America launched several initiatives to support the future of agriculture, including the Young Farmer Sustainability Award and the newly-constructed North American Bee Care Center. Podcast (MP3)
  • March 5, 2012 – Joe Taets, senior vice president and president of the Agricultural Services business unit at Archer Daniels Midland Company, “Setting the Global Table: Strategies for Feeding and Fueling a Growing World.” Taets leads ADM’s Agricultural Services business unit, where he oversees a vast global network of grain elevators, transportation assets and processing facilities in addition to commercial activities. Previously, Taets was president of ADM’s grain group, overseeing the company’s domestic and export grain businesses and grain merchandising operations.
  • April 6, 2011 – James Borel, executive vice president of DuPont, “How Agricultural Innovation and Collaboration Will Shape the Future of the World.”  Borel joined DuPont as a sales representative in 1978 after earning his degree in agricultural business from Iowa State. His career with the company has included numerous sales and management positions in agricultural products, DuPont Crop Protection and human resources, including posts in the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan. He was group vice president, responsible for agricultural businesses, before being named to his current position.  Podcast (MP3)