July 6, 2010 – Day two of the legendary AALP North American Study Tour continued despite sweltering heat. A continental breakfast greeted the class at 7:30 a.m., although there were those who chose to skip breakfast and bank the extra sleep.
After a quick bus ride to the Ohio State Department of Agriculture, presentations by the Associate Director of Agriculture Mark Forni, as well as Lori Panda and Kevin Elder, all described a vibrant, profitable, and innovative industry. The department of agriculture participates in a number of facets in the industry, including international and local promotion and assistance with adhering and understanding the multitude of regulations. Currently, Tim Sword International Program Manager is involved in promoting and assisting in exports of Ohio products to Israel, Vietnam, Columbia, Spain, and Ontario Canada. Lori Panda discussed the various methods that she works with the “Ohio Proud” program across the state at farmers markets, grocery stores and fairs, just to name a few. Kevin Elder presented the significant changes and improvements that have been made to the large livestock regulations, when the Department of Agriculture took over from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). AALP participants observed significant similarities between the Ohio regulations and those of Ontario.
Following a quick break, the group toured a plant industry, animal disease & diagnostic laboratory, consumer analytical laboratory, and the weights and measures laboratory; the various groups that are involved under the Department of Agriculture. The group was surprised to learn that all collaboration of commercial weights and measures (think deli and truck scales, even gasoline pumps) fall under the Department of Agriculture as well as the safety and inspection of all amusement rides in the state. Arlie McFaul was intrigued to learn that both the crop science laboratory and the animal laboratory were both bioscience level 3 labs, allowing them to handle potentially bioterrorism samples such as anthrax. Melanie Williams was gut-wrenched to learn about the process of autoclaving animals – that is to put the animal in a huge pressure cooker, with hypo-chlorite acid and steam. This will disintegrate flesh in 6 hours, and turn the bones to dust. Now that’s a clean and green animal disposal system!
After a quick inhale of lunch, the group moved to the downtown office of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce where the group was treated to a detailed explanation of the economic development that is happening in the area. Both of the presenters, Matt and Joe, exhibited their obvious passion for the region. The class was surprised to learn that the region possesses a port, and is central to over 50% of the US population and 47% of the Canadian market within a one day drive of the city. All of which make Columbus a very attractive location for businesses to thrive. Phil Emmott was impressed at the sales approach that the commerce team takes to acquiring new companies to the area, including Coba Automotive. Coba announced last week that it will be investing hundreds of millions of dollars in a new lithium battery plant for its electric cars in the area – which will require an additional 1500 high end jobs when in full production.
So long Columbus we’re Ohio Proud!
Phil Emmott, Arlie McFaul, Melanie Williams – AALP Class 13