Four of the 14 women who serve as U.S. commissioners of agriculture will be featured in the opening day keynote panel at this fall’s Women in Agribusiness Summit (WIA). This 8th annual event returns to Minneapolis, September 25-27, at the Hyatt Regency.
The panelists include: Kate Greenberg, Colorado commissioner of agriculture; Celia Gould, Idaho director of agriculture; Bettina Ring, Virginia secretary of agriculture and forestry; and Kim Vanneman, South Dakota secretary of agriculture. The session will be moderated by Nicole Hancock, managing partner-Boise at Stoel Rives.
Women leadership in agriculture is on the rise in state ag departments, which saw its first female commissioner in 1986, according to the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), who also noted that this year, there are eight new ag commissioners who are women. “When I started [as CEO of NASDA] in 2014, we had six women serving in these roles, so in five years, we have more than doubled the number of women in these positions,” said Dr. Barbara Glenn, NASDA CEO, in a recent interview for the Women in Agribusiness Quarterly Journal. “These women public servants are critical messengers to sharing the story of our diverse agricultural system in the states. They are filling the gap to instill shared values about food and agriculture.”
While the keynote panel celebrates this increased diversity in government positions, the panelists will be laser-focused on discussing their state’s agricultural goals and priorities in the coming year, addressing upcoming challenges and opportunities. “We are excited to bring these women leaders’ voices to the WIA Summit to highlight their leadership and vision for their states, as well as offer their perspectives on the unique challenges faced in their districts and the industry itself,” said Nicole Hancock.
Sharing a featured role on the WIA Summit stage will be Lucy MacMillan Stitzer, a member of the Cargill-MacMillan family, former Cargill board member, and founder of the Dirt to Dinner blog. Stitzer, who has extensive experience in agriculture, banking, investments, and corporate governance, will present “Understanding DNA: Plants, Soil, and People”. She will address how sequencing DNA has given us a better understanding of plant genetics, soil microbiome, and our gut microbiome. Additionally, she will present thoughts on how this could help us sustainably grow more food on existing land, and what impact it has on human health.
Other speakers on tap at this year’s Women in Agribusiness Summit include those from CF Industries, CHS Inc., Corteva, Envirologix and Nutrien. For a full lineup of speakers and more agenda information, visit womeninag.com.
About Women in Agribusiness
Women in Agribusiness is a business unit of HighQuest Group, a global agribusiness consulting, events and media firm. The Women in Agribusiness initiative took root in 2012, with the first conference held in Minneapolis. WIA initiatives have grown to include the WIA Membership, WIA Demeter Award of Excellence, Student Scholarships, and the WIA Quarterly Journal. Learn more at womeninag.com.