By Amanda Bilek
I recently joined the MN Corn Growers Association (MCGA) and will be serving as the Senior Public Policy Director. I am excited to be here and look forward to representing Minnesota corn farmers. In this role I will work closely with MCGA Executive Director Adam Birr and the board of directors to lead policy and strategy development for state and federal government affairs to advance the strategic goals of MCGA.
Prior to joining MCGA I was the government affairs and communications director for the Great Plains Institute (GPI) in Minneapolis. GPI is a non-partisan, non-profit organization working to transform the way energy is produced, distributed and consumed to be more economically and environmentally sustainable. I spent nine years at GPI working on effective ways to use Minnesota’s abundant agricultural and forestry biomass resources to produce renewable fuels, chemicals, heat and power.
While at the GPI I worked closely with stakeholders representing agriculture, electric and natural gas utilities, business, government and environmental organizations to broker consensus on legislative and regulatory policies to address energy sector challenges and opportunities. I worked with GPI staff and stakeholders to implement those consensus agreements at state legislatures or regulatory bodies. Prior to working at GPI, I worked for seven years at a small organization in St. Paul focused on federal conservation policy, state clean energy policy and on-farm energy research.
I hail from Wadena County and graduated from Staples-Motley High School. My parents continue to operate a small crop and beef farm in the area. I don’t get back to the farm nearly often enough, but when I do I enjoy working outside. I was active in 4-H, which got me interested in public policy and politics. Ever since my first visit to Washington D.C. when I was 15 on a 4-H citizenship experience, I have been volunteering and working professionally in public policy and politics. I attended college in St. Paul at the University of St. Thomas where I studied political science and environmental studies.
I feel really fortunate to be in a position where I get to work full-time on agriculture and rural development policy issues. I look forward to learning more about corn production and expanded uses and to work with farmers to identify public policy priorities that need to be addressed for market access and expansion.
I was inspired by the vision MCGA adopted last fall to be the most sustainable and environmentally responsible corn farmers in the nation and am eager to work with staff and farm leaders to implement strategic initiatives. I am thrilled to represent Minnesota farmers while advocating for public policy priorities in Minnesota and Washington D.C. Agriculture is currently facing significant challenges and opportunities and I am ready to get to work. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if there are policy issues you would like to discuss or if I can be of assistance.