Tomorrow's Ag Leaders - Eric Paulson


The South Dakota Ag Business Association started a program this year called ‘Tomorrow’s Ag Leaders.’ It is a program designed to prepare upcoming leaders in the ag industry through leadership training, legislative experience, and overall exposure to the benefits and issues in our ag economy. The process begins with an application and an essay explaining your growth in the ag industry as well as overall work experience showing your dedication to improving and advocating for agriculture. To be considered a candidate for the program, one must submit 3 reference letters from peers in the industry on your behalf. Each year, the ‘Tomorrow’s Ag Leaders’ program selects 10 people throughout the state to participate in a 3-section program learning about state legislation, national legislation, and leadership training.
 
In January, our group traveled to Pierre for 2 days to learn about state legislation. We had meetings with our Secretary of Ag, Secretary of State, as well as our Lieutenant Governor. While having conversations with everyone, we had the opportunity to have our voice be heard on behalf of our local patrons discussing both the benefits and the issues we deal with daily at the farm and retailer level. It was a great opportunity to advocate for agriculture and explain situations that are taking place at our level that may get overlooked or our legislators weren’t aware of. Listening to a professional lobbyist panel allowed us the necessary education to voice certain issues and different ways to bring the facts across for our growers on items that will be brought forth into legislation.
 
Our group went to Washington D.C. in July for a week to learn about National Legislation and give us the opportunity to do some touring and learn about our nation’s history. It was an awesome experience to be exposed to and promote agriculture on behalf of our farmers to the delegation representing us in Washington! The trip led us on a couple days of touring before attending meetings held by representatives from CropLife America, American Seed Trade Association and many more. Each representative briefed us on their portion of the Farm Bill and provided us the general knowledge and information to prepare us for our meetings with our South Dakota Delegation. The three topics our group chose to discuss in the Farm Bill were E.L.D (Electronic Logging Device), Conservation, and F.I.F.R.A. (Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act). It will be interesting to follow the Farm Bill and watch how each of those topics play out knowing we had a voice in representing our farmers. The overall exposure I received throughout this trip and the knowledge and experience I gained in a short time about agriculture policy exceeded my expectations and I am very grateful for the opportunity our group was given.
 
In closing, I have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to represent Full Circle Ag, as well as the South Dakota Ag Business Association in the ‘Tomorrow’s Ag Leaders’ program. It has been a great experience to learn about agriculture on a regional and national scale, as well as advocate for our local growers and peers in the ag industry that we live and work with in our area communities. Full Circle Ag has given me the opportunity to grow in my agriculture career through this program and bring back that experience and knowledge and apply it to our business and continue the high standards that have been set forth as well as exceed the expectations of our patrons in years to come. I look forward to graduating in October, following our third section in leadership training for two days down in Sioux Falls, South Dakota!