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Shaping agriculture’s future through public policy

Trey Forsyth
Trey Forsyth (’17 agricultural business, public service and administration).

As an Iowa farm kid, Trey Forsyth (’17 agricultural business, public service and administration) is deeply rooted in agriculture. Forsyth grew up helping out on his family’s century farm in Charles City, Iowa, showing pigs with his cousins and becoming involved in the operation.

It’s no surprise, then, that Forsyth chose to attend Iowa State University and pursue a degree related to agriculture.

“At Iowa State, not only was I able to get a degree in agriculture, but I was able to learn about how many different career paths existed for people from all backgrounds with an interest in food and agriculture,” Forsyth said.

Seeing ag in a new light

For Forsyth, the public service and administration major, now called agricultural and rural policy studies in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, piqued his interest in agricultural policy and the government’s role in supporting farmers and rural communities.

“The [agricultural and rural policy studies] program offered me the opportunity to dive into these issues more in-depth, and to develop a better understanding of the role the public sector plays in shaping the laws and regulations that impact the agriculture industry,” Forsyth said.

Coming full circle

Following graduation from Iowa State, Forsyth accepted a position with Land O’Lakes at its corporate headquarters in Minnesota. Before long, he moved to Washington, D.C., and began working in the company’s government affairs division. Next, he served as policy advisor to the chief agricultural negotiator at the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the federal agency responsible for developing and promoting American trade policy. Following his stint in government work, Forsyth worked for Michael Torrey Associates, a government affairs firm that represents organizations in the food and agriculture sector.

Forsyth recently rejoined Land O’Lakes as senior manager of federal government and industry relations. In this role, he represents the cooperative and its members before policymakers and industry stakeholders in Washington, D.C. He supports grassroots advocacy efforts by Land O’Lakes farmer-owners, and advocates for policies that positively impact farmers and rural communities.

Forsyth credits the agricultural and rural policy studies program with skillfully preparing him for his career.

“This major helped lay the foundation for my understanding of the role of government and policy in the agricultural sector,” he said. “The major taught me about key issues impacting the industry, and helped me develop a skillset to identify solutions to those challenges.”

Forsyth has some solid advice for students majoring in or considering a major in agricultural and rural policy studies.

“Spend more time learning about the career pathways available to those within the major. I had no idea how broad the world of ag and rural policy was, and I was fascinated to learn about all the different opportunities out there – in Iowa, in our nation’s capital, or around the world,” he said. “I’m grateful to have had the educational experience to prepare me for a role in ag policy, and I hope the program continues to grow.”