I am currently wrapping up my final days with Ohio Farm Bureau as an intern. Luckily I get the opportunity to finish my internship with an amazing trip to DC with 100 of Ohio’s Farmers! Everyone flew in on Monday and we have been very busy since then.
The group split up into two different embassy visits, Japan and Egypt. We were SO lucky with our embassy picks. I was in the group selected to go to the Egyptian Embassy. When we got there, we were informed that we were the first group to be in the embassy since the 25th of January, when everything started happening in Egypt. How cool is it that WE had that opportunity! We heard so much information regarding their country as well as their agricultural industry. As a country, they have spent roughly $3 million a day since January 25. Can you imagine? I learned that they are a big potato producing country. It is incredible what they do in order to make sure no diseases are in their seeds or crop. 40% of their 84 million people work in the agriculture industry and there are around 6,000 farmer cooperatives. They have around 1.9 trillion in Ag exports every year. However, they are trying to find a way to becoming more efficient with their land and water usage. Agriculture uses more than 50% of their water supply. In my opinion they need to look into hydroponic greenhouses. Overall, the visit with the Egyptian Embassy was very enlightening and very enjoyable.
We also had an opportunity as a group to hear Senator Sherrod Brown Speak. He seemed to feel it is necessary to rebuild our manufacturing industry because the agriculture industry and the manufacturing industry is what will save a country. He also discussed with the group the 2012 Farm Bill.
We also had a briefing by the American Farm Bureau group about what WE can do to help get some legislation moving to help our industry. Trade is such a big issue right now. We really need to get Obama moving on the FTA’s with Korea, Panama and Columbia. We NEED these markets in order to keep our economy strong and our name in the world strong. The budget isn’t getting any better with all of the cuts that have to be made so we have to start making these trade agreements work.
Our visit to the USDA was also a unique experience. After we finally got everyone through security, our three speakers really spoke on some key issues. They also helped us get a feel for what we need to expect in the coming fiscal years as far as ag budget and other necessary items.
The Boehner Farm Forum was our next stop. It turned out absolutely great! We had Speaker Boehner open the forum. It is so nice to know we have a Speaker that is so in tune with the ag industry. We as Ohioans are blessed with an excellent representative and we as Americans are blessed with an outstanding Speaker of the House. Rep. Frank Lucas from Oklahoma spoke with us as well, as the leader of the ag committe in the house. We also heard from Reps Stivers, Fudge, Renacci, Gibbs and Johnson from Ohio. All were so excited about our visit with them and help answer some tough questions from our county presidents. Biggest worries for all of them are still our trade agreements, EPA standards and the budget. All three things affect our industry more than ever!
I also had the opportunity to attend a media dinner at the National Press Club. GREAT experience! It was neat to see the building and the pictures of so many media greats.
Senator Rob Portman met with us for some time as well. He is such an incredible leader. We need more people like him in our government. He has some major worries about our government, budget and trade agreements as well. He really feels like the government needs to get smaller. That we need to make our government like any business. That the government shouldn’t have a budget the spends more than they are bringing in. Did you know our federal government is borrowing more than 40 cents per dollar they spend? That is almost half. If business and families can’t do that, neither should our government. Portman answered some tough questions from our Presidents and then encouraged them to reach out to their congressional representatives today in their meetings.
After breakfast the presidents started meeting with their representatives to discuss some key issues such as trade, EPA and the Estate Tax. Ohio Agriculture, you are being represented well on Capitol Hill!