GREENWICH, N.Y. — For Danielle Cummins, agriculture is a profession that runs in her family. Originally from Byron, NY, Danielle’s father and her uncles were the last of a fourth-generation dairy farm, and her mother was and still is a partner at L-Brooke Farms in Byron. Growing up she was always aware of agriculture since it was a big part of her family’s everyday life, yet it was not until she went to college that she came to see that being raised in agriculture is an unparalleled experience. Danielle said, “…it wasn’t until I went away to college that I realized that being a ‘farm kid’ was something unique. My passion for our industry grew from that point on.”
Danielle’s interests at first led her to the policy side of agriculture. She attended SUNY Oswego studying political science. Upon graduating she moved to Washington, D.C. where she worked on Capitol Hill. After this she worked at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD). In these roles she focused on grassroots and government affairs. Her experience in the nation’s capital helped provide her with a broader view of the American agriculture industry. Danielle explained, “During this time I was fortunate to work with a number of producers from across the country on important legislative issues that impact our industry. This also gave me a deeper understanding of agriculture as a whole and that our industry is not ‘one size fits all’.”
She eventually moved back to Western New York where she worked for a local Congressman within the district, at a local milk plant, and then as a Crop Insurance Agent for Farm Credit East. From her upbringing to her wide range of work experiences, Danielle has a unique understanding of the agriculture industry which is helpful with her current position.
Today, Danielle is a Fusion Leader at Aimpoint Research. Aimpoint Research is a global intelligence firm specializing in serving the agri-food value chain. “We focus our efforts on helping clients, whether it be an input supplier, financial institution, or farmer co-op, to utilize intelligence and research insights to develop data driven solutions. In short, we utilize military style, intelligence collection to arm our clients with actionable information,” explained Danielle. Aimpoint Research believes that food security is national security, so the company works to support the agriculture industry by getting ahead of future challenges so that those who farm everyday can continue to do it and do it well.
As a Fusion Leader, Danielle works with clients to understand their needs and develop plans to find solutions to those needs. Danielle described her position saying, “I work with a team of intelligence analysts, market researchers, and former military leaders to deliver detailed reports and briefings based on a client’s goals. We are all constantly watching industry trends both domestically and globally to ensure we not only understand the challenges of today, but how to solve for them tomorrow.”
For someone pursuing a career in agriculture Danielle advises that they be open to new opportunities. “Honestly, I did not even know my ‘line of work’ existed,” she said. “Our industry is diverse and there is a lot of opportunity to do things that may fall outside your perception of what ‘working in agriculture’ may look like. It is an exciting time to be in the agriculture industry, the innovation and investment in this space will continue as we try to produce food, fiber and fuel by doing more with less. We need bright minds with a ‘farm kid’ work ethic to continue to move the industry forward.”
She also suggests being creative in your approach as you look for opportunities. “In my experience, asking someone for an informational interview is not only free, but can provide an invaluable opportunity to learn about their professional journey while also asking them for recommendations and networking. I cannot stress the importance of networking enough. Most of, if not all, my previous work experience has come from a professional connection,” said Danielle.
For anyone who may have questions about Danielle’s career or any of her experiences in the agriculture industry, feel free to contact her at email@example.com.
A new column from Morning Ag Clips, “Cultivating Ag Careers” introduces agriculture students and FFAers to the wide variety of careers that exist in agriculture. Each week a new individual will be introduced, who will share their journey: their educational experiences, their work, and what role their job plays in the wide world of agriculture.
Tune in each Wednesday to learn more about the different jobs and personalities that make up the ag industry!