Tuesday, July 30, 2013

AGL Session 5, Part 1: Washington, D.C.

(Thanks to our Assistant Director Kristi Farner for her wonderful photography!)
AGL Session 5 got off to a great start at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. We all made it through security with little hassle and only a few overweight and oversized baggage fees.
We landed in Washington, D.C. and realized how wonderful Atlanta’s airport actually is. This was later reinforced by LaGuardia Airport as well.
Some of our group decided to use the metro and learned it was a terrible choice in Washington in July. Trekking half a mile with 50 pound suitcases will wear you out! Luckily, the group of women I was with hailed a cab and made our way to our hotel with no trouble. We had a delicious lunch in Washington’s Chinatown and made our way to the American Farm Bureau for our afternoon session.
Throughout the entire trip, we were looking at federal government and national issues that affect agriculture. There were several themes that rang true no matter if we were in Washington, D.C., upstate New York, or in the heart of New York City: immigration repeal is necessary for a stable agriculture workforce; affecting national issues begins at the local level; and we must all continue to be vocal advocates (“agvocates,” if you will) about the power of the American agribusiness sector and its importance.
We met with representatives on both sides of major issues, including those from the Animal Agriculture Alliance as well as the Humane Society for the United States. It was interesting to see how both sides of the coin could present seemingly logical arguments and to see how those issues were presented in a pleasing manner to the intended audience. It was a good example of how facts could be manipulated to fit the audience and how passion and fervor can overwhelm the senses of even one’s toughest opponents.
Our group met with various members of Georgia’s legislative representation. Senator Johnny Isakson and and Senator Saxby Chambliss met with the entire group and echoed the sentiments that we heard all along. They strongly recommended local legislative involvement to eventually influence our state and federal policymakers. Each AGL participant also made individual arrangements to meet with their State Congressperson while we were there as well.
Congressman Austin Scott’s office interns provided a wonderful tour of the Capitol.
Other speakers included Captain Bob Watts of the US National War College who taught us about U.S. national strategy, Mr. Randy Nuckolls who taught us about federal ethics issues, and Ms. Krysta Harden, from small town Camilla, Georgia who is awaiting confirmation from the U.S. Senate to become the next USDA Deputy Secretary, who taught us the importance of ag advocacy.
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Session 5 in D.C. was enlightening and a whirlwind of policy, national issues, and constant movement, but it wasn’t all business. Class participants took in the sights and sounds of D.C. at night. We visited monuments, museums, caught Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center, and even squeezed in a Segway tour!
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Very center of Washington, D.C. in the Capitol building.
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Segway master- people kept asking me for directions to tourism attractions because I suppose they thought I was a cop.
Okay so maybe I lied about being a Segway master. I lost control of my Segway twice and actually fell off of mine and got a bit of road rash at the Lincoln Memorial. I still have the marks almost two weeks later. 

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