By Mike Schweitzer, Jill Johnson, and Blair Bruns
Today the 13th of March the class of 2020 had the distinguished honor to witness an act of gratitude that is not often witnessed. The distinguished presider of our organization was recognized for his service with an honor from the agency which whom he led. Lee Strom was presented with a United States flag that had flown atop the Capitol building on the behest of Senator Mark Kirk in recognition of Lee Strom’s dedication to the US Government and its ideals. We as a class were pleased to witness such a momentous occasion and commend Mr. Strom on such a distinguished honor.
Fittingly today our class started off at the Farm Credit Administration headquarters. We had the privilege of having the acting board of the Farm Credit Corporation speak to the group and share their insightful perspective into the world of leadership and our forward looking opportunities. Chairman and CEO Tonsager, Board members Jeff Hall and Glenn Smith spoke of the role of Farm Credit in Illinois’ as well of the rest of the US’s producer’s needs.
The class then had a unique opportunity to hear from the United States intelligence community who shared the potential breadth of threats against our agricultural community. Certain high-level intelligence personnel spoke about potential threats associated with our normally acquiescing nature and how better to prepare for unseen threats. It was imposed that vigilance and general awareness are sound ideals but not typically practiced in everyday agriculture.
After leaving the Farm Credit Administration our class traveled to the offices of Farm Credit Council. Gary Matteson presented information on young and small farmer’s role in the Farm Credit System. Mr. Jeff Shipp, Executive Vice President spoke on the merits of establishing sound relationships and being a voice for American producer’s interests. Before the class left the Farm Credit Council offices we had the distinguished pleasure to hear from former Acting Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Connor. Secretary Connor spoke to the fellows of his personal experiences as well as his perception of the US trade situation.
The fellows were the briefed at the offices of CropLife America, a crop protection firm who specializes in outreach to lawmakers. Trade organizations such as CropLife form an integral role in protecting the liberty that agricultural producers require spanning the breadth of conventional to organic and all points in between. The fellows concluded the day with a magical evening ensconced in the atrium of the USDA of which we were guests of the California Ag Leadership Foundation. There was a unique kinship formed between the classes as well as an appreciation for the insight to coordinate such an event.