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April 12, 2016
For Immediate Release

Sarah Hubbart
CIRB Celebrates Inaugural Emerging Leaders Program Graduates, Applications Open for 2016-2017 Class
Program Expands Next Generation of Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Industry Advocates
Washington, D.C.The Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau (CIRB) celebrated its inaugural Emerging Leaders Program class with a graduation ceremony held last night as part of its Spring Policy Conference and Fly-In. CIRB launched the program in 2015 to ensure the next generation of crop insurance leaders are equipped with the tools they need to be effective advocates.

"Today, crop insurance is a centerpiece of the farm safety net. As we look ahead to the next farm bill and beyond, we need a new generation of informed advocates who can engage to protect crop insurance during policy debates," said CIRB Chair Sheri Bane, of COUNTRY Financial.  "That's why CIRB's Emerging Leaders Program is so critical to the future of crop insurance and, ultimately, the rural economy."

The six Emerging Leaders Program class members participated in events across the country, receiving advocacy training and networking with industry leaders. Program highlights included interacting with CIRB's Executive Committee, receiving issue briefings, meeting with Members of Congress and their staffs to serve as crop insurance's voice on Capitol Hill, and learning from industry leaders at USDA's Risk Management Agency and National Crop Insurance Services. 
Pictured: The 2015-2016 Emerging Leaders Program Class, Eric Swanson (COUNTRY Financial), Beth Bjerke (AFBIS), Aaron Rutledge (FMH), Nikki Harrod (ADM), and Weston Burcham (ADM).

Congratulations to the ELP Class of 2015-2016 which included:

Beth Bjerke, AFBIS
Weston Burcham, ADM
Nikki Harrod, ADM
Jim Konstanty, Partner Re
Aaron Rutledge, Farmers Mutual Hail
Eric Swanson, COUNTRY Financial

Applications for the 2016-2017 Emerging Leaders Program class are now open! More information is available online at, including audio interviews with the current class. All applicants must be employed by a current CIRB member company. Applications are due by August 1, 2016. Contact Kerry Lynch at 202-544-0067 with questions. 
About CIRB:

Founded in 1964 and headquartered on Capitol Hill, the Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau (CIRB) is proud to provide unparalleled advocacy, support, and membership services to the crop insurance and reinsurance community. Today, CIRB members provide a vital component of the farm safety net, writing policies in every state and providing billions of dollars in crop protection.  Learn more about us at


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