July 19, 2017
By Debra Davis
U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala. discusses ag policy with Kelsey Cassebaum during the Ag Voices of the Future program in Washington, D.C.
Kelsey Cassebaum of Lillian was one of eight college students from five states selected for the inaugural Ag Voices of the Future program hosted in Washington, D.C. July 10-13.
The program, sponsored by Valent U.S.A. and the American Soybean Association (ASA), helped young people improve their understanding of major policy issues impacting soybean farmers, the importance of advocacy and careers that shape agricultural policy. The class was in conjunction with the ASA board meeting and Soy Issues Forum.
“I was honored to be selected to participate in the program,” said Cassebaum, who is interning at the Alabama Farmers Federation this summer. “In addition to meeting several members of Alabama’s congressional delegation, I enjoyed learning more about how agriculture policy is made. It’s important for me and other young people to become advocates for agriculture.”
Cassebaum is a senior studying agricultural economics major at Auburn University and is Auburn Young Farmers chairman. She is the daughter of Todd and Hope Cassebaum. Their family has a diversified farm in Baldwin County where they grow row crops, fruits and vegetables, cattle and hay. While working at the Federation, the 22-year old has focused on checkoff programs for the Alabama Soybean Producers and Wheat & Feed Grain Producers.
“More and more, regulations that impact the ag industry are being directed by legislative and regulatory leadership many generations removed from the farm,” said Jeffrey Smith, Valent’s industry affairs manager. “We believe the best way to ensure sound regulation is to encourage more young leaders with a practical understanding of ag production to consider careers based in Washington, D.C. Valent appreciates the opportunity to partner with ASA to identify, develop and direct these future leaders to have a positive impact on the issues facing soybean farmers and the crop protection industry.”
The three-and-a-half day program was packed with activities and valuable networking opportunities including testimonies from ASA and Valent’s Washington representatives and a Senate Ag Committee staff member. The group also attended an ASA policy issues briefing, visited Capitol Hill with farmer-leaders, toured the U.S. Department of Agriculture, heard from an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) representative and a visited CropLife America’s office.
“It’s important that young people have an understanding of the important policy issues that directly impact the productivity and economic well-being of our farms and the soybean industry,” said ASA President Ron Moore, a farmer from Roseville, Illinois. “ASA appreciates Valent’s support of this valuable program that helps to cultivate future voices for agriculture in Washington.”
For more information on the Ag Voices of the Future program, visit the “Learn” section of the ASA website.