Hello again from Washington, D.C. After a near miss of the Nor’ Easter – we headed to the US Department of Agriculture. The group braved the weather and heard great speeches. Our day began with Michael Alston (IALP Class of ’08) who is an Assistant Administrator. Alston talked about RMA Issues and gave us a great opportunity to ask questions of him, too. Our next speaker was Acting Director, Suzanne Hale, who provided an overview of the FAS and gave us her insights on the current global economy. Next in our lineup was Dr. Joseph Glauber who is the Chief Economist for the US Department of Agriculture. Dr. Glauber talked about his outlook for Agriculture in 2009. Due to the weather, our schedule had to be rearranged and our morning finished out with David Lazarus, the Special Assistant to Secretary Vilsack. Lazarus briefed us about the office of the Secretary. Prior to his current position, Lazarus was an advisor to Senator Dick Durbin. He served as a member of the Obama USDA transition team. The twenty-seven year old is from northern Illinois.
The afternoon sessions moved to the Department of Transportation – which by luck was just a short Metro ride away. Following lunch we heard from David Grier, who is a Senior Analyst and Navigation Business Line Manager with the Institute for Water Resources as part of the Army Corps of Engineers. Grier gave an overview of the locks and dams throughout the nation as well as the importance of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). He noted how vital the infrastructure of the inland waterways is to the agriculture industry. Following Mr. Grier – we heard from the TIGER Team (The Transportation Department chiefs for the new Obama stimulus package). They are Lana Hurdle the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs and Joel Szabat the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy with the Department of Transportation. They briefed us on DOT and the Stimulus Monies along with their upcoming plans for 2009. Next was Russell Laird – the Executive Director for the AFTC (Agricultural & Food Transporters Conference). Laird detailed the American Trucking Association and gave us an intro to the AFTC and their Agenda.
We were honored to have Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, spend time with us. Secretary LaHood sat down with the class of 2010 and gave us the opportunity to learn more about him. He then gave us an opportunity to ask him questions and even a chance to have our picture taken with him. Our day concluded with Brian O’Boyle. He’s from the Surface Transportation Board. Mr. O’Boyle detailed the history and the future of the railroad industry.
Following Mr. O’Boyle’s presentation we headed for Fogo de Chao where our dinner was sponsored by National Council of Farmers Cooperatives, Farm Credit Council and the IALF. We had the chance to hear Allyson Laackman’s (CFO for the Executive Office of the President) story from being a volunteer with the Obama Campaign to moving to Washington to help with the transition to the new administration to ending up with a full-time job in Washington, D.C working for the President of the United States of America. She is also a childhood friend of Twyla Strom (Lee Strom Class of 1988)It was a great way to end a very informative day.
Thanks again to all our wonderful sponsors and to all the people who helped to make this trip possible.