Meet Jay VroomFLM Harvest Advisor
FLM Harvest (FLMH) has the unique advantage of having a Board of Advisors – 12 experts in the agriculture, food, lifestyle and animal health markets – who provide us with mentoring, perspective and leadership. While much of their work happens behind the scenes, we’re spotlighting the knowledge and expertise they bring to FLMH in a series of blogs.
Meet Jay Vroom, Illinois farmer turned CEO of CropLife America. Jay has spent the past 44 years advocating for agribusiness and crop protection companies. He is also passionate about sharing the story of agriculture with consumers. As Jay notes, the FLM Harvest Board of Advisors is the perfect way to serve the industry he loves in new and exciting ways.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I grew up on a grain and livestock farm in north-central Illinois, and I’m still connected with that farming operation. After graduating from the University of Illinois, I started my career at The Fertilizer Institute, which helped me learn a lot about ag across the United States, not just Illinois corn and soybean farming. Most recently, I served as the CEO of CropLife America.
Tell us about CropLife America.
CropLife America is a national trade association that’s been advocating for agribusiness and crop protection companies since 1933, which is also the same year the first U.S. farm bill was authorized. It has 120 member-firms, more than twice as many as when I took over in 1988. I’m proud that we’ve supported the industry and grown innovative products through our advocacy.
We’re also focused on telling the story of modern agriculture. The CropLife Foundation partnered with FLMH, Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN, Valent BioSciences, the American Farm Bureau Federation and other organizations to launch the No Taste For Wasteinitiative, which has helped introduce the farmer’s voice into the global food waste conversation.
Why did you decide to join the FLMH Board of Advisors?
I’ve known many of the folks at FLMH throughout my career, going back to my years at the University of Illinois. It’s a great time for me to join the board because I hung up my spurs as CEO of CropLife America at the end of August of 2018. Being on FLMH’s board is a great opportunity to keep learning about agriculture and food around the world.
What is the biggest challenge facing the agricultural industry today?
Agriculture has to overcome many public misconceptions about farming. It’s so important that the industry communicates to consumers how growers implement safe, productive and environmentally sound farming practices through science and technology. Everyone in ag has to work together to address the public’s curiosity. I believe FLMH can be a key agent in solving that dilemma.
What is the greatest opportunity for the agricultural industry?
10 billion people. Agriculture has the obligation to feed a growing global population and provide renewable fuel and fiber in a manner that’s increasingly environmentally beneficial. We need to keep innovating because being good today simply isn’t good enough for tomorrow.
How do you stay current with trends and issues?
There are many days where it feels like this is impossible. Things move so fast in food and agriculture. Science and technology are evolving rapidly. Trade and monetary policy is shifting like never before. I follow a number of key ag trade publications and other media.I try to find some sources of information that aren’t traditional agriculture and food sources because you can’t address the concerns of the consumer unless you understand what they’re hearing and can put yourself in their shoes.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve ever gotten?
Patience is a virtue. Actually, it’s more than a virtue. It’s an essential human trait to cope with the speed of information during these revolutionary times in agriculture. It’s important to step back and assess new information before reacting to it.
Learn more about Jay and our Board of Advisors.