The Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program (IALP) Class of 2012 participants gained invaluable knowledge about state government during a recent two-day seminar in Springfield. The January 19-20 seminar included 11 sessions featuring 25 speakers, including state senators and representatives, the Acting-Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, legislative staff members, lobbyists and media commentators. The seminar was sponsored by The Maschhoffs, one of the largest family-owned pork production networks in North America.
Over a two-year period the IALP class, a leadership education program conducted by the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation (IALF), is attending 14 seminars covering current social, political and economic issues in the agriculture industry. At the State Government Seminar, participants heard about the law-making process from Representative Frank J. Mautino, 76th District, D-Spring Valley; Alan R. Kroner, Executive Director, Illinois Legislative Research Unit; and Jim Dodge, Executive Director, Legislative Reference Bureau. An “Inside Perspective of State Government” was provided by Senator John Sullivan, 47th District, D-Rushville, and Representative Dave Winters, 68th District, R-Rockford, who is an IALP program graduate.
A presentation offering an “Outside Perspective on State Government” featured Dr. Kent Redfield, Professor Emeritus in Political Science from the University of Illinois-Springfield, and award-winning news reporter Alex Degman, from the Illinois Radio Network (IRN) in Springfield. The role of the lobbyist was discussed by a panel featuring Representative Norine Hammond, 94th District, R-Macomb, Neil Flynn of Neil Flynn & Associates in Springfield, and Lori Reimers, State Farm Insurance.
Representative Dwight Kay, 112th District, R-Edwardsville and Representative Elaine Nekritz, 57h District, D-Northbrook, highlighted a panel discussion on “How to Run a Successful Campaign.” Both representatives have won and lost elections in their districts.
The process of developing the state budget and issues affecting the financial condition of the state were discussed by a panel that included John Lowder, Director of House Democrat Research and Appropriations; Trevor Clatfelter, Deputy Director, Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability (CGFA); and Clayton Klenke, House Republican Director of Appropriations.
The business climate in the state and business issues affecting agriculture were discussed by a panel consisting of Scott Selinger, Legislative Director, Taxpayers Federation of Illinois; Rae Payne, Sr. Director of Business and Regulatory Affairs, Illinois Farm Bureau; and Kim Maisch of the National Federation of Independent Business.
H.W. Devlin, Acting-Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, was the featured speaker during a luncheon at the department, followed by a panel discussion on issues facing Illinois agriculture. That panel included Senator Mike Frerichs, 52nd District, D-Champaign, Chair of the Senate’s Agriculture and Conservation Committee; Jean Payne, President, Illinois Fertilizer & Chemical Association; Dave Loos, Illinois Corn Growers Association/Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Technology and Business Development Director; and Mark Gebhards, Executive Director of Government Affairs for the Illinois Farm Bureau.
The final panel of the seminar was a discussion of issues in the 2012 election featuring Democratic and Republican staff members. Jeremy Flynn, Senate Democratic Staff and Kevin Artl, House Republican Staff discussed the impact of redistricting and the national presidential election on the state.
“It’s important for our agricultural leaders to understand the state government process and become more proactive in government interaction,” said Joyce Watson, IALF President. “This seminar presents important information to our participants, as well as a challenge to continually have our voice heard in the state capitol.”
The Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation was founded in 1981. 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. Candidates for the leadership program are selected during a competitive application process. Men and women 25 to 49 years of age working full-time in production agriculture or agri-related occupations are encouraged to apply. Applications are now being accepted for the Class of 2014, which starts in September 2012. More information is available at www.agleadership.org.
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