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Featured in Farm World, by Tim Alexander

Connecting with the changing profile of the American voter to help boost agriculture’s political presence is a major focus of the 2013 Illinois Commodity Conference, Nov. 26 in Normal.

bushFollowing lunch and an annual awards ceremony, the conference keynote speaker, George Prescott Bush, will discuss “The New Face of Uncle Sam.” Bush, the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush and son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, will share lessons from a long family history of public service, and as biracial individual working to increase Hispanic Americans’ involvement in politics.

The 37-year-old Bush will also discuss the changing demographics of the electorate and how agriculture might adapt to continue to be politically relevant.

“We’re really excited about this session,” said Lindsay Mitchell, special projects coordinator for Illinois Corn and a conference organizer. “Mr. Bush is working significantly with the Hispanic population in Florida trying to help the Republican party reach out to that population and get a better grasp of what some of their issue points should be, and convert that demographic to the Republican way of thinking.”

George P. Bush is a U.S. Naval Reserves intelligence officer who recently returned from a mobilization in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He is cofounder of Pennybacker Capital and has been involved in a variety of non-profit organizations.

According to his biography, his political career began as an assistant to his grandfather’s presidential campaigns and continued during his father’s three gubernatorial races. He’s currently chair of MAVPAC, a political action committee (PAC) focused on engaging younger Americans in the political process. Bush, a law school graduate, is also cofounder of Hispanic Republicans for Texas, a PAC focused on identifying, recruiting and supporting Hispanic candidates for state political offices.

“The reason why (his appearance at the conference) is important to us is because the demographics of America are changing drastically. It used to be that agriculture had pretty significant representation in Congress. We had a great lobby and, to a sense, what the public thought of us was irrelevant – our focus was on educating Congress so we could get what we needed (politically),” Mitchell said.

“Those days are kind of over because even if you consider every single Congressman that represents a rural district in the whole United States of America, we still only have (approximately) 40 Congressmen. We don’t have a majority if we only represent people who live in rural areas. (Bush) will look at how agriculture can be more relevant.”

Bush will seek elected office as Texas land commissioner in 2014. The Republican has raised more than $3.3 million for his campaign and is one of three Latinos vying for top open Texas political seats. He is considered by many to be a rising Hispanic star for the GOP, Fox News Latino reported.

“I’ve been asked whether knowing Spanish and being Hispanic myself is a positive in getting Hispanic voters and I don’t believe it is,” Bush told The Associated Press recently. “I think Hispanics look for a friend, they look for someone who understands, who is willing to relate, to hear their issues and welcome them to the party and to their campaigns. That’s what we’re doing.”

He said that his earliest memory is of standing in a park clutching a balloon at age three while his grandfather delivered a stump speech. Though his family history is etched in the annals of American political history, Bush insists he is running for office strictly on his own merits and not on the strength of family legacy.

“It’s a legacy that I embrace and that I’m not going to run away from,” he said. “But certainly, in this campaign, I have to identify myself and talk about my own track record.”

He is also the founding partner of St. Augustine Partners, LLC, described on its company website as an opportunistic, Texas-based partnership focused on principal investing and consulting services for small to middle-market transactions in the oil and gas industry.

Bush will be introduced by Jon Doggett, public policy vice president for the National Corn Growers Association.