Nic Anderson is the Business Developer for the Illinois Livestock Development Group. He travels across the state of Illinois helping livestock farmers expand their farms or build new ones. In my conversation with Nic, we believe that he might be the only person in Illinois with a job like his!
In Illinois, a piece of legislation called the Livestock Management Facilities Act (LMFA) gives farmers the guidelines they must follow to build a new livestock barn or expand an already existing farm. Nic works with farmers to help them understand and follow the LMFA, and generally helps the entire ag industry by attempting to make raising livestock in Illinois an accomplishable feat.
Lindsay: What are your primary responsibilities?
Nic: I work directly with livestock farmers across to help livestock farmers grow and improve their farms. Sometimes we have situations where farmers are completely new to raising livestock and so we do whatever we can to help with the learning curve and to also help make sure the farm flourishes. However, I also work with livestock farmers who are decades into their operations or a young person continuing a family tradition.
Lindsay: What made you decide to pursue a career in this field?
Nic: I’ve always identified with livestock farmers because I’ve always been involved in livestock production. I love every part of the livestock sector and so naturally I know the ins and outs of the industry. The job description certainly matched my skillset to say the least. So I asked myself, “why not use that knowledge and experience to help farmers across the state?”
Lindsay: What three things stand out to you as skills that are vital for a career in this area?
Nic: You absolutely have to understand the issues that livestock farmers are facing. You’ll see a general trendline among livestock farmers, but not every farm is the same. So you have to understand the issue on a deep and personal level. It’s not just their livelihood; it’s their passion.
Beyond knowing the issues, you must understand and educate yourself on other aspects like current trends, innovation in the sector, or solutions that farmers might not have heard about. However, it’s not just about being informed. It’s being able to synthesize all the information to help the farmer. You must learn to speak two “languages” in a sense.
There’s a requirement of willingness as well. You must be dedicated to this industry and lifestyle and do what’s necessary, even if it’s out of the schedule that you’d rather have. Agriculture is not a 9 to 5 job. You must be willing to be in the marketplace ( at the farm gate ) at all times. It’s the extra stuff that can make or break your operation.
Lindsay: What’s a typical day like in your job?
Nic: That’s the great part of my job – there is no typical day on the farm. That’s what appealed to me about the job. One day I might travel 600 miles and work a 14-hour day. The next day will only be phone conversations and collecting data that helps the farm. Then the next could be totally different such as a meeting to gain insight into an issue relevant to livestock farmers. It can get tiresome but the reward is well worth it! My wife might disagree with me, though!
Lindsay: Do you think young people today should be considering careers in agriculture?
Nic: Definitely. YES. What other business sectors can you think of where your efforts provide such a direct impact to others? Your customer is your neighbor, your family, and your community. It’s not only a great challenge but it is an enormous responsibility and incredibly rewarding.
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director