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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Washington DC - Capitol Hill and Briefings

Hey all, after Canada we headed to Washington.

We landed in Washington DC and after a battle with wheelchair access we got settled into a hotel. 
At Capitol Hill - Washington DC

After a quick briefing with our host Hope Pjesky (cereal crop and beef producer from Oklahoma) we met with Simon Smalley at the Australian Embassy who gave us a talk on the Australian perspective of agriculture in the USA. We met at the farmers Federation bureau offices and received an overview of US agriculture at the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture); we discussed marketing issues with JB general marketing manager of the John Deere company.

We received a very interactive and interesting presentation from Scott Hansen, regional manager From Meat Livestock Australia at the Australian Embassy.  Alot of our discussions and presentations were based around the US Farm Bill which covered a range of topics from incentives and subsidies to the welfare nutrition section.  The Farm Bill is responsible for the budget of $628 billion over a five-year period with only 6% related to agriculture, leaving the rest to cover environmental policies and the ever-growing need of nutritional value within US citizens who fall under the low income bracket.

The emphasis on the food stamp program in America is quite evident, considering the growing unemployment rate due to the GFD.

The US beef industry is making a slow recovery after the disease outbreaks in 2008. The major growing markets are believed to be in Korea and Asian countries. The US has been strongly involved in offering aid to Japan after the earthquake disaster, because of this the relationship between Japan and the US is strengthening and we could see growth in future market access.

The major topic of discussion was based around the US budget and the possible government shutdown, creating a real buzz in American political media. Before we flew out of the US, the government stalled on a final decision by extending the due date for an answer until 14 May.

Sarah, Loretta, Jake and I then geared up for a seven-hour flight to London. We had a four-hour stopover then caught a connecting flight to Paris.

Adieu Washington, Bonjour France
Parler Bientôt Amis

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