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Audrae Erickson, Mead Johnson Nutrition
Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA
John Rauber, Deere & Company
Audrae Erickson is Vice President, External & Public Affairs for Mead Johnson Nutrition with global responsibility for government relations, stakeholder partnerships, public policy and advocacy strategies. Ms. Erickson is a member of the High Level Steering Committee and chairs the Asia-Pacific Working Group for the Food & Agriculture Dialogue on Trade, a coalition of over 100 organizations supporting the importance of trade to the sector. Ms. Erickson is the immediate past chair of the Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Processed Foods and a former chair of the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee. Prior to joining Mead Johnson Nutrition, Ms. Erickson was the president of the Corn Refiners Association, the Washington, D.C.-based national trade association representing members of the U.S. corn refining industry that produce sweeteners, starches, ethanol, bioproducts, and feed ingredients. Before joining the CRA, Ms. Erickson served as the senior director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) overseeing trade policy, negotiations, dispute settlement, trade promotion authority and matters involving the World Trade Organization. In 1999, Ms. Erickson founded the Ag Trade Coalition to promote U.S. agricultural interests and trade negotiating objectives representing associations, producers, processors, and agribusinesses. Prior to her tenure at AFBF, Ms. Erickson served as director of agricultural affairs at the USTR office and as an economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service where she specialized in trade and environment issues. Ms. Erickson earned a Master of Arts degree in economics as a Rotary scholar from McGill in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with Bachelor of Arts degrees in economics/business and French at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. She resides in Kensington, Maryland with her husband and three children.
Secretary Sonny Perdue came by his knowledge of agriculture the old fashioned way: he was born into a farming family in Bonaire, Georgia. From childhood, and through his life in business and elected office, Perdue has experienced the industry from every possible perspective. Uniquely qualified as a former farmer, agribusinessman, veterinarian, state legislator, and governor of Georgia, he became the 31st United States Secretary of Agriculture on April 25, 2017. As a younger man, Purdue served his country in the U.S. Air Force, rising to the rank of Captain. After earning a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Georgia, he put that training to use in private practice in North Carolina. As a member of the Georgia State Senate for eleven years, he eventually ascended to the position of President Pro Tempore as elected by his senate colleagues. As a two-term governor of Georgia, he was credited with transforming a budget deficit into a surplus, dramatically increasing the student performance in public schools, and fostering an economic environment that allowed employers to flourish and manufacturers and agricultural producers to achieve record levels of exports. He followed these accomplishments with a successful career in agribusiness, where he focused on commodities and transportation in enterprises that have spanned the southeastern United States. Perdue is a strong believer in good government, in that it should operate efficiently and serve the needs of its customers: the people of the United States. As a state senator, he was recognized as a leading authority on issues including energy and utilities, agriculture, transportation, emerging technologies and economic development, and for his ability to grasp the nuances of complex problems. As governor, he reformed state budget priorities, helped Georgians create more than 200,000 new jobs, and promoted his home state around the world to attract new businesses. In 2009, the Reason Foundation’s Innovators in Action magazine recognized Perdue as a leader who “aggressively pursued new strategies to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of government and deliver better value at less cost to taxpayers.” In addition, he was named “Public Official of the Year” in October 2010 by Governing Magazine. Perdue’s views on agriculture have always been shaped by his first-hand knowledge of all of its aspects, both as a farmer and as an agribusinessman. He appreciates the daily concerns and needs of American farmers, while also understanding the intricacies of global commodities markets. He is acknowledged as a national leader in agriculture, having served as a board member for the National Grain & Feed Association, and as President of both the Georgia Feed and Grain Association and the Southeastern Feed and Grain Association. Perdue has long-standing, close relationships with the leadership of the American Farm Bureau and has been recognized by the Georgia 4-H and FFA programs, among others, for his leadership in agriculture. As the product of Georgia, a state where agriculture is the leading economic driver, Perdue recognizes that agriculture is an issue and industry which cuts across political party boundaries. He recognizes that the size, scope, and diversity of America’s agricultural sector requires reaching across the aisle so that partisanship doesn’t get in the way of good solutions for American farmers, ranchers, and consumers. Perdue has been married to Mary Ruff Perdue for 44 years and has four adult children and fourteen grandchildren. He and his wife have served as foster parents for eight children awaiting adoption. Perdue remains a licensed airplane and helicopter pilot and avid outdoor sportsman.
John Rauber is the Director, Washington Affairs, with responsibility for John Deere’s federal public affairs and government relations matters. John manages the company’s engagement with the U.S. Congress, Executive Branch, federal agencies, business organizations and NGOs to ensure that public policies support the business environment in which John Deere, its dealers, and its customers operate. Since joining Deere in 2000, John has served in successive positions of responsibility with the company’s U.S. and international Public Affairs functions. John also served three years with the company’s financial services business. As Regional Director, International Finance, he led John Deere Financial’s credit operations and business development in Eastern Europe, Russia and the CIS, Middle East and Africa. This included ensuring the flow of credit to Deere dealers and customers during the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath. Prior to joining Deere, John represented manufacturing interests in Washington with trade associations and in private law practice. John received his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Georgetown University, and his law degree from the George Washington University. He is currently admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and Maryland.