(Posted Fri. Feb 27th, 2015)
Speaking on a panel of female, minority, veteran, and young farmers at Commodity Classic, National Corn Growers Association Past President Pam Johnson on Thursday highlighted the importance of diversity to the agricultural industry.
"As an industry, we are better when we are diverse,” Johnson said. “We make better connections with the people we are trying to engage when we look like them. We are better today than when I started in this business, but we still need to improve.”
Johnson is an Iowa farmer who served as the first female president of the National Corn Growers Association. The panel discussion was organized by USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden, and moderated by POLITICO's Jenny Hopkinson.
“Diversity is a strength, and our industry needs to reflect our population,” said Harden. “This isn't about being a farmer. This is about being a leader.”
Johnson encouraged women and minority farmers to step into leadership roles within their industry associations.
“It is really important to get involved in your trade association,” she said. “That's how we make our voices heard. Get involved in your state association and on an issue action team. Let's build a culture of inclusiveness and diversity from the ground up. As a woman or a minority, you can't be a shrinking violet. You have to work harder, but you are paving the way for the next generation, and hopefully it will be easier for those who come behind you.”
Current NCGA President Chip Bowling applauded Johnson and Harden for their leadership and encouraged continued dialogue and engagement.
“Krysta Harden and Pam Johnson have been champions for women in agriculture. Their passion and leadership are inspiring. I hope our organization and our industry continue on a path toward being more diverse and ensuring everyone's voice is heard.”