“Effective Leadership and Advocacy” Highlights National Ag Policy Seminar
Understanding key agricultural policy issues was the theme of a three-day seminar attended by the Class of 2018 of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program, February 8-10, 2017 at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign. The “Kim Morton Seminar on National Agriculture Policy” featured 14 speakers talking about key issues related to policy priorities and national leadership for the agriculture industry.
Jonathan Coppess, Clinical Assistant Professor and Director of the Gardner Agriculture Policy Program at the University of Illinois opened the seminar with a discussion on “Ag Policy 101 and the Next Farm Bill”. He was followed by a panel of industry advocates that included Greg Webb, Vice President at Archer Daniels Midland Company, Adam Nielsen, Director of National Legislation and Policy Development at Illinois Farm Bureau, and Steve Foglesong, Owner of Black Gold Ranch in Fulton County, Illinois, and a past president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Panelists discussed the most pertinent issues affecting agriculture in Washington, DC, and how to most effectively advocate and approach policy-makers on behalf of agriculture.
Welcoming the IALP Class of 2018 to the University of Illinois was the recently named Dean of the College of ACES, Dr. Kimberlee Kidwell. She spoke to her experiences instructing agriculture leaders through the Ag Forestry Program in the state of Washington, highlighting the importance of being a “tidal” leader versus a “title” leader. Dr. Kidwell also briefly highlighted her vision for the future of the College of ACES.
The second day of the seminar featured discussions surrounding two key issues leading policy discussions for agriculture: nutrient management and trade. Dr. Paul Davidson, Assistant Professor for Agricultural and Biological Engineering, explained the key issues affecting nutrient management and water quality in crop production. He was followed by Lauren Lurkins of the Illinois Farm Bureau and Trevor Sample of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, who discussed how the agriculture community is working with the EPA and other environmental groups to ensure common goals are understood and met. Participants then engaged in a lunch discussion focused on continuing the effort to find common ground with interest groups outside of the agriculture community.
Dr. Nicholas Paulson, Associate Professor for Agricultural and Consumer Economics, began the afternoon by presenting the basic issues and policy affecting agriculture trade. John Hardin, Vice Chair of American Farmland Trust, followed his presentation with a discussion on “Driving Trade from the Ground Up”, highlighting his personal experience as a past chairman of the United States Meat Export Federation and past president of the National Pork Producers Council. Philip Nelson, former president of the Illinois Farm Bureau and IALP 1984 alumnus, closed the day with a message about “Leadership Opportunities and Obligations”, driving home the message that agriculture needs more leaders who are willing to step up and take on the important work of being an advocate at the local, state, and national levels.
On the final day of the seminar, held at the Farm Credit Illinois corporate offices in Mahomet, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman spoke to the IALP Class of 2018 about the importance of engaging new partners in the discussion of agricultural issues and forming policy. That segued into a discussion of the “Qualities of a Great Leader” led by Kenneth McMillan, Pattee Professor, Political Economy & Commerce at Monmouth College.
“It’s key for future agricultural leaders to understand the forces that confront agricultural policymakers,” said Don Norton, President and CEO of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation. “This seminar provides a solid foundation for our National Study Seminar in Washington, D.C. in March. We are very grateful to Kim Morton, our seminar sponsor, the outstanding faculty at the University of Illinois College of ACES, and Farm Credit Illinois for making this seminar possible.”
The Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation provides a 19-month seminar series that develops knowledgeable and effective leaders to become policy and decision makers for the agricultural industry, in addition to Advanced Leadership Training for program alumni, commodity groups and other agricultural organizations. It is a non-profit educational corporation under Illinois law. A board of directors, comprised of recognized leaders in agriculture and business, oversees the program.