Washington DC – and back in the business suits!
After 24 hrs on the trot, a car booked from the wrong airport, hotel booking non-existent, meeting up with the Brazil GFP group at 3.30am, we get some complimentary rooms at the Marriott Hotel (I’d like to think I had something to do with this but it really wasn’t the case!!).
A day off the next day was well received as we ventured into Washington to check out all the amazing historical and political buildings (I can’t believe I said that with so much excitement). But it was really fantastic to see where Obama lives and works, where the ministry buildings are, and where Forrest Gump gave his speech!
A follow up night out in DC with the 9 scholars from the Brazil trip was not hard to take. With way too much to catch up on and enough energy to supply a small town for a night, the hours just seemed to get away on us! I think if time could be paused, we would still be there.
The next two days saw us meet with embassy personnel, MLA reps, political staff, party members and other interesting contributors to the US political arena. I’m still getting my head around the Farm Bill and what impact it actually has on the US economy and farming. Other topics of discussion included the role of GM crops, the conversations we must have with the misinformed population, China’s hold on the worlds economy and US water management just to name a few.
A fantastic couple if days in Washington DC, from hear we headed back to the rural areas – this time, Nebraska! We said our ‘see you laters’ to the Brazil group, and we set on our way.
Who’d of thought corn field after corn field and thousands of pivot irrigators could be so interesting?? – I guess that’s the benefit of Nuffield and this Global Focus Program – we really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The scale, genuine nature of the people and consciousness of having profitable businesses to attract the next generation into farming, added to my already highly energised vision for a strong future in agriculture.
One of the more memorable visits was the Agricultural campus of Nebraska State University in Lincoln. At the time, they had 4000 school kids around 15-16 years old on a program called FFA. We got to talk to 5 of these kids who were from farming and non farming backgrounds but were all so excited about the opportunity agriculture offered and could see the longer term big picture of how important it was to be in an industry that would continue to feed the worlds population in a sustainable way. Four thousand kids!!! And that was just in the one state!
We talked to the head of the University and he said enrolments have increased 70% in the past 10 years with the last three years being stand outs. When asked ‘why?’, he said – positivity in the farming community and profitable farming businesses. Why would young people come into an industry that is negative, complaining and not profitable? – I think we need to take a couple of leaves out of this book!!
So it’s with sadness and a huge amount of satisfaction that this is the end of the GFP. I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this blog and look forward to continuing the journey of looking, listening and learning! (Not to get too deep).
Below are the fabulous people that formed our GFP group. A mix of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland and France nationalities helped make it the best trip I’ve ever done and the most memorable 6 weeks. I’ll miss you all!