In 2014, ACI launched the Emerging Professionals Leadership Program (EPLP) to help grow a leadership pipeline and ensure a strong future for Indiana's agribusinesses. The EPLP is a one-year program providing substantive discussions on some of today's most critical issues and introducing class members to key industry and policy leaders.  

On Tuesday, August 22, the 2017 class of the Emerging Professionals Leadership Program traveled to Portage, Indiana for an indepth view of the Ports of Indiana.  Dave Holt, Vice President of Operations and business Development for Conexus Indiana Logistics Council (CILC) kicked off the session with a presentation on the advantages and challenges of transportation and logistics for manufacturers and distributors throughout the state.  The next morning began with a bus tour of the Ports of Indiana given by Ian Hirt, Port Director.  The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor is designed to quickly and efficiently transport products by truck, rail, barge or ship.  Every year, approximately 100 ships, 400 barges, 300,000 trucks, 12,000 railcars and 200 laker vessels move cargo through the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor.  The group was further given an detailed look at CF Industries, a global leader in turning natural gas into nitrogen.  This nitrogen is then used for fertilizer that feeds the crops that feed the world to products that remove harmful emissions from industrial activities.  Michelle Fenty, a 2016 EPLP graduate, was one of the presenters.  The group then was given a tour of the Cargill facility in Portage by 2015 EPLP graduate Ryan McCoy.  Ryan serves at Plant Manager for the facility.  The session was then completed with a look into Indiana Roads and Transportation by Representative Ed Soliday.  Rep Soliday serves as the House Chair of the Roads and Transportation Committee.  His insight into the intricacies of keeping Indiana’s roads passable and functional was enlightening and a great way to conclude the fourth session of the Emerging Professionals group.

On Wednesday, May 10th, our 28 Emerging Professionals visited CGB and Maple Leaf Farms in Milford, Indiana.  The day began with an overview of the CGB organization by Marc Plastow and included a detailed tour of their facility.  The group then continued to Maple Leaf Farms for lunch followed by a discussion with Dr. Bruce Lamb, Gabe Ayers-Clunette Elevator, and Janelle Deatsman-Maple Leaf Farms on supply chain - how each of these aspects of the food chain depend upon each other.  The next discussion centered around bringing new agribusiness to Indiana.  The panel included George Robertson-Kosciusko Economic Development Corporation; Connie Neininger-Indiana State Department of Agriculture; and Mike Yoder-Elkhart County Commissioner.  The Emerging Professionals were then treated with a cooking demonstration from Maple Leaf Farms on the proper way to prepare duck.  The Tippy Creek Winery in Leesburg was the final stop of the day for a time of networking.  All in all, it was an information-packed day and the group is now looking forward to Session #3 at Dow AgroSciences in July.

On February 21st, the 2017 EPLP class visited the Indiana Statehouse for their first session of this year’s program.  The day kicked off with introductions and a welcome from ACI President, Amy Cornell.  The ACI Government Affairs Team of Mark Shublak and Lesa Dietrick gave the group an in depth overview of ACI’s legislative agenda and the political process of lobbying and advocacy.  Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch then joined our group to explain her new duties.  She oversees a portfolio that includes the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) and Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) among other departments.  Her outlook for the State of Indiana is promising and she urged our young professionals to be involved and stay involved. 

We were then joined by two (2) state legislators; Representative Don Lehe (House 25) – Chair, House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee and Member Environmental Affairs Committee and Senator Jean Leising (Senate 42) – Chair, Senate Agriculture Committee.   They gave us insight into current bills being discussed, the process that goes into the passing of a bill and how these issues would affect agriculture in the state.  We then heard from a panel of association representatives who advocate for agriculture on our behalf.  They included:  Elisha Kemp, Manager, US Government and Corporate Affairs, Dow AgroSciences; Josh Trenary, Executive Director, Indiana Pork; and Katrina Hall, Director of Policy, Indiana Farm Bureau.  The group concluded the day with a tour of the Statehouse including a birds-eye-view of the General Assembly in action.

The 2017 EPLP class will meet for Session #2 on May 10th in Milford as they visit Maple Leaf Farms and CT, Inc.



For more information about the program, the application process and to see agendas for each session over the past two years, see the links below.