Born and raised in northern Illinois, Mike has been working in the farm and food sector for more than four decades. He got his communications career start as a TV reporter during the high farm debt days of the early 1980s and later worked in communications for groups such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Corn Growers Association, Channel Earth and agricultural clients of St. Louis-based Osborn Barr. Mike holds a degree in agricultural journalism from Iowa State University.

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