The speakers at the Illinois Commodity Conference covered a
variety of topics, including a discussion by the leaders of four Illinois
commodity groups about an overview of U.S. meat exports and information about
how farmers can connect with their elected officials.
The final presentation of the meeting focused on the impact
of changing U.S. demographics. It was presented by George P. Bush, the son of
former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the grandson of President George H.W.
The speaker, who is a cofounder of the Hispanic Republicans
of Texas, talked about growing up in a family that is quite involved in
politics. His first political memory occurred when he was 3 years old and his
grandfather, George H.W. Bush, announced in Houston he was running for president
of the U.S.
“The highest calling perhaps outside the military that one
can take on is serving in public service,” he said.
Bush has worked on campaigns, including in 1994, 1998 and
2002, when his dad ran for governor of Florida.
“My first real political experience was in 1994 working in
Little Havana reaching out to the Cuban community,” Bush said. “Although I’m
Mexican descent, I learned about grassroots politics in South Florida.”
Bush noted that he also is an attorney, served in the
military and is a lieutenant with the U.S. Navy Reserve.
“My crowning experience was serving in Afghanistan, where I
learned about true leadership in the face of the enemy,” he said.
He said a major demographic change is occurring in the
“This is starting to create a racial dialog for the first
time since the John F. Kennedy era,” he said.
“African-Americans and Asians are a piece of the pie, but
Hispanics are going to be the overwhelming majority of minority growth until
2050,” he added.
Another important demographic trend is by 2030 baby boomers
will be more than 65 years old.
“Anglos are having fewer children, and Hispanics are having
many more children, which is creating a demographic change our country hasn’t
seen before,” Bush said. “Hispanics are 15 percent of our country’s population,
but over 50 percent of our country’s growth because they are having more
One misconception is that the growth of the Hispanic
population is occurring as a result of illegal immigration, Bush said.
“Sixty percent of the growth is coming from having
children,” he said.
The speaker also highlighted the top issues identified by
Hispanics in a 2008 poll.
“The top four issues in the Hispanic community have nothing
to do with immigration,” he said. “The top four issues, I call kitchen-table
issues, are education, cost of living, jobs and health care.”
These issues mirror the Anglo community, Bush said.
“Hispanic issues are American issues,” he said.
I enjoyed Bush’s interesting perspective on politics and the
demographic changes that are occurring in the U.S. He is not really the type of
speaker I normally expect to hear during an agricultural conference, but I think
he provided several points that are important to all, including Illinois