Allen brings western insight to Lincoln
GERING — Cindi Allen could easily be lost in a large crowd. Of small stature, the slender farm wife from Keith County is just as much at home in blue jeans as in a trim suit. That is because before her current position as Nebraska assistant secretary of state, she traveled the world promoting Nebraska’s dry bean industry.
Representing the Secretary of State office, Allen reviewed the world situation as it relates to Nebraska dry bean producers during the annual meeting of the Nebraska Dry Bean Growers Association in Gering on Feb. 12. Among her topics were the current worldwide effort to promote dry bean flour, focusing on Tanzania where sufficient, quality food is scarce. She said 34 percent of that country’s children are malnourished.
“Dry bean flour is a super food,” Allen reminded her listeners. “We are promoting it for school lunches there because so many children go to school for the lunch. By introducing bean flour into those programs, we can create a higher demand, which would become another market for our product.”
She also emphasized the potential for a strong market in Yemen where the population needs food. White beans are in demand through a world food program that could require as much as 10-15 metric tons a month.
“It’s a wide open opportunity,” she reminded area growers, adding that other countries, including Vietnam, Bulgaria, Japan and China, are showing interest in Nebraska dry beans.
Allen, who has been a strong dry bean industry supporter for many years, brings that experience, and other skills, to her new job working with Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen.
“I worked on his campaign for this office, and as it turns out, I think it was kind of a job interview,” Allen said during an interview following her public address for the bean growers. “I was his first hire,” she added.
Allen believes she will be able to use her international experience to promote Nebraska industries, especially agriculture. Among her other duties will be public relations, liaison with Nebraska Realtors, international marketing, youth programs and spreading Evnen’s message, especially with the media.
According to Allen, one of the down sides of the job was having to move to Lincoln. However, she has turned that into a positive experience as well.
“Moving from a farm at Ogallala to Lincoln was a challenge, but I haven’t lost my western Nebraska roots. It’s good to bring western Nebraska, and fresh eyes, to Lincoln,” she said.
She added that her children, all grown with careers and families of their own, have supported her move, and her husband has a new career. After selling his farm equipment a year ago, he became an over-the-road truck driver.
Laughing, she said he doesn’t miss driving up and down the rows, and enjoys all of the new places and scenery he sees.
“We really are not far from the farm, and see each other there when possible. Our hearts are there on our farm,” she said.
As for her new adventure, Allen said, “I’m real excited to use my degree and experience here where I can employ my skills. I enjoy it, and I think it will be a fun job. It’s kind of a labor of love.”