Qualifying nominations from over 170 bright and hardworking leaders have been submitted to Vance Publishing, giving the eight judges representing the industry a daunting task to narrow the list to 40 finalists.

Vance Publishing’s inaugural 40 Under 40 Awards recognize the young leaders in our industries who will be instrumental in meeting the 2050 challenge of feeding a growing world population expected to top 9 billion in the next 40 years. The program has produced a fantastic list of high quality candidates representing all career paths and sectors of agriculture.

The accomplishments already achieved by the nominees show a great deal of passion and leadership in the agricultural industry.

Nominees include CEOs, COOs and presidents of corporations in addition to university professors, government directors and farm owners and operators. Nearly one-third of the candidates work in the livestock industry, with another third from the produce industry and the remaining entries comprised of row crop, food safety, research, government and university positions.

“We’re extremely pleased with the remarkable candidates participating in the first year of our 40 Under 40 Awards,” Shawn Etheridge, vice president and publishing director at Vance Publishing said. “The exceptional accomplishments already completed by these young leaders confirm the agricultural industry is on the right track to addressing the challenges ahead. We’re honored to lead a program recognizing these talented individuals.”

Submissions display how these young leaders use media to share agriculture’s message with consumers and the rest of the industry, as well as adoption of new technologies and policies created to increase agricultural production, improve safety and gain efficiencies.

The challenge lies ahead for the panel of eight judges who will pare the list down to the final 40.

Reviews and collaboration between the judges will take place during the month of August with winners to be announced in the November print and web publications including The Packer, Produce Retailer, Citrus and Vegetable, Produce Ops, Drovers CattleNetwork, Dairy Herd Management, Pork Network, Ag Professional, Bovine Veterinarian, as well as the websites The Grower, Red Book Credit Services, Doane Advisory Services, and Greenbook Data Solutions.

Qualifying nominees are key leaders in their field with a passion for agriculture from animal and crop production, biotechnology and university researchers to food and nutrition technology, agricultural equipment, agronomy, food distribution and beyond. Applicants are required to be 40 years of age or younger, but some nominees are in their early 20s, one as young as 14.