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AALP Class 13 North American Study Tour Day 9

July 13, 2010 - It was another early morning as Day 9 kicked off for the AALP 13 class. The group decided to get an early start as we would be battling traffic heading into the downtown core of Washington DC’s business district. First up were morning sessions where AALP was joined by the IOWA LEAD program participants for a presentation with Monsanto’s Dr. Michael Dykes, US Government Affairs. He was an interesting presenter to say the least as he discussed current strengths and opportunities, general background info with respect to Monsanto and agriculture as partners. “If you haven’t been on a farm in the last 5-10 years, you don’t know production ag,” stated Dykes. A discussion on current issues concluded the time we had with Dr. Dykes.

We then had an opportunity to have a group discussion between our AALP class and the IOWA LEAD team, where we talked about similarities and differences, as well as sharing experiences by the two groups. The IOWA team has a similar two-year program meeting every 8 to 12 weeks. Their international trip took them to Vietnam and South Korea, which provoked many conversations between the various delegates.

Then it was off to lunch and then on to our afternoon destination, the Canadian Embassy. Because we are all in our best dress for this visit, our bus driver “Paul” agreed to pick us up and drive us 20 blocks to avoid the unbearable humidity. However half way there we had an incident with a car that was trying to travel beside the bus on a curve…we’ll just leave it at that.

It was now off to the Canadian Embassy, a very large and impressive building. At the embassy we were welcomed by Dr. Gary A. Bojes, from the USDA rural development board, Mary Kay Thatcher and Tara Smith from the US Farm Bureau and Chris Leggett, Pam Simpson, Paul Robertson and Anne Mattson from the Embassy. Our visit wrapped up with an interesting tour of the building and its various floors and departments given by Glen the embassy’s event planner. The visit to the sixth floor provided a spectacular view of Capitol Hill.

Mary Kay Thatcher and Tara Smith spoke about COOL (Country of Origin Labeling) saying that “COOL is not currently being discussed at any level outside of hogs and beef.” When it comes to the issues pertaining to the American Humane Society, “WTO talks continue to go nowhere - Canada is able to move forward and implement trade agreements with countries like Columbia and Korea, while the US falls behind as Obama refuses to send signed trade agreements to the hill.” Clinton Buttar, Guelph ON said, “Each of these topics is at the forefront of importance for Canadian agriculture and provide perspective with regards to the current state and challenges of U.S Agriculture and their #1 trading partner Canada.”

Drew Spoelstra, Binbrook ON reflected on the day’s speakers and concluded, “There was a definite message coming from each of the speakers today when they spoke about the remarkable change in the agriculture industry. The main message is that we have to get out there and get our message heard by both the public and our local representatives.”

Clinton Buttar, Rick Kush, Drew Spoelstra – AALP Class 13

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