After evaluating numerous outstanding nominations for Vance Publishing Corporation’s inaugural 40 Under 40 in Agriculture Awards, a panel of judges from across the industry has narrowed the list to the final 40. These individuals were selected for their leadership and commitment in advancing the cause to double food production by 2050.

 “Every segment of the industry will contribute to solving the 2050 challenge, and these 40 finalists reflect the diversity of our country’s agriculture industry,” said Peggy Walker, Vance Publishing Corporation President.

This group of young agricultural leaders, representing agriculture at its best, has made a remarkable impact on both their organizations and the industry as a whole. The impressive quality of all the nominees didn’t make it easy for the highly qualified judges. 

 “We were looking to identify and recognize extraordinary individuals in agriculture, and I am confident that these Top 40 candidates do just that,” said Shawn Etheridge, Vice President & Publishing Director, Agribusiness at Vance. “With such a broad range of high caliber candidates, our panel of judges faced tough decisions.”

More than 200 applicants under the age of 40 were submitted to Vance, with some as young as 14. Nominees included hardworking leaders from animal and crop production, biotechnology and university researchers to food and nutrition technology, agricultural equipment, agronomy and beyond.  The candidates were nominated because of their passion for agriculture, demonstrated involvement in the food industry, and their notable record of achievement.  They are on all accounts, leaders in their field.

The 40 Under 40 Finalists in alphabetical order


  • Jessica Adelman, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Syngenta, Ag International            
  • Tonya Amen, Genetic Service Director, American Angus Association/Angus Genetics Inc.             
  • Todd Bilby, Ph.D., Dairy Technical Services Manager, Merck Animal Health          
  • Kim Brackett, Owner/Partner, Brackett Ranches LP        
  • Anne Burkholder, President, Will Feed Inc.         
  • Jean Paul (JP) Cano, DVM, Senior Associate Director of Swine Professional Services, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.               
  • Jude Capper, Ph.D., Livestock Sustainability Consultant, Washington State
  • Edward Cargill, Ph.D., Associate Fellow and Corn Discovery Breeding Lead, Monsanto Company               
  • J. Carnes, Principal/President/CEO, Winter Garden Produce       
  • Chris Chinn, Farmer, Chinn Hog Farm    
  • Dustin Dean, Director of Beef Operations and Beef Product Development, Sexing Technologies               
  • Paul Defoor, Ph.D., Senior Vice President / Chief Operating Officer / Board Member, Cactus Feeders, Inc.           
  • Jeffrey DeFrain, Ph.D., Research Nutritionist, Zinpro Corporation             
  • Patrick Delaney, Communications Director, American Soybean Association         
  • Joel DeRouchey, Ph.D., Extension Specialist, Kansas State University     
  • Emiliano Escobedo, Executive Director, Hass Avocado Board      
  • Lee Fiocchi, President, Lee Rain Inc. & Earthtec Solutions
  • Kyle Freeman, Ph.D., Manager of New Product Development, The Mosaic Company     
  • Andy Holt, Tennessee House District 76 Representative, Holt Family Farms and A & E Livestock 
  • Joseph Kelsay, Partner and Senior Manager BioTech Affairs, Kelsay Farms and Dow AgroSciences            
  • Ty Lawrence, Ph.D., Associate Professor, West Texas A&M University   
  • Mark Lyons, Ph.D., Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Alltech 
  • Lillian Magidow, Technical Lead, WinField           
  • Matt Mandel, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, SunFed Partner
  • Emily Meredith, Director of Communications, Animal Agriculture Alliance            
  • Luke Minion, DVM, CEO/President, Pipestone Holdings, LLC      
  • Devon Nixon, CEO, SoilTap China             
  • Haley Oliver, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Food Science, Purdue University College of Agriculture          
  • Adam Putnam, Commissioner of Agriculture, State of Florida     
  • Matt Ritter, Ph.D., Advisor, EKS, Swine Value-Added Services, Elanco Animal Health       
  • Charles Rohla, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation            
  • Dwain Rule, Ph.D., Biology Team Leader, Dow AgroSciences      
  • Katie Stagliano, Chief Gardner, Katie's Krops     
  • Daryl Starr, Founder & CEO, Advanced Ag Solutions        
  • Solito Sumulong, Formulations Chemist, WinField           
  • Chad Vorthmann, Executive Vice President, Colorado Farm Bureau
  • Matt Waits, CEO, SST Software
  • Carissa Westrick, Director of Business Development, Vale Wood Farms, Loretto, Pa.      
  • Dale Woerner, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Center for Meat Safety & Quality, Colorado State University
  • Alexandra Wright, Agronomy Research Manager, Carolina Eastern-Vail, Inc.      

More information about the 40 finalists will be announced in the November print and web publications of  Drovers CattleNetwork, The Packer, Dairy Herd Management, Produce Retailer, PorkNetwork, Ag Professional, Bovine Veterinarian, Citrus and Vegetable, ProduceOps, as well as the websites Red Book Credit Services, Doane Advisory Services, and Greenbook Data Solutions.

To learn more about the program, or learn how to sponsor go to‐under‐40.