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Day 9 – Trade, Ag & Relationships

Class 50 at the White House!

Class 50 started our day bright and early. There were two good meetings that were too good to miss, so our class split up to get the most out of our experience. Half of our class meet with USTR Assistant Trade Representative – Agriculture Affairs and Commodity Policy – Sharon Bomer Lauritsen. Sharon shared her extensive experience on complex trade negotiations and the cultural dynamics that come along with working with international trade partners.

Class 50 with Sharon Boomer Lauritsen from USTR

The other half of our class was joined by Marcella Syzmanksi, Deputy Director, Office of Agricultural Policy and DC Exchange fellows, Tina Wong and Sam Crowell. The Director of the Office of Agricultural Policy, Tom Duffy, joined us via conference call out of abundance of caution for COVID19, as he recently traveled to Rome. They shared insights about the importance of building alliances, strategies for maintaining partnerships and ensuring our voice as an industry is heard.

Class 50 at the State Department

From there Class 50 rejoined and made our way to the Eisenhower Executive building where we met with Chris Chaffee, Associate Director of the Office of Public Liaison to the White House. Chris’ job is to serve as a communication conduit between the White House and the US Agricultural Industry. Chris encouraged us to communicate our industry issues as individuals and through our trade associations to make our industry’s challenges understood.

Following these Federal meetings, we all met with the Executive Office of the Mayor, Muriel Bowser, of Washington DC. We learned about the unique issues of this municipality having limited representation in the Federal Government.

Class 50 at the DC Mayor’s Office

In preparation of our upcoming International Trip we traveled to the Mozambique Embassy in DC. Minister Counselor Adriano and Commercial Counselor Godinho educated our class on the history of the country, the make-up of various ethnic groups, and their strong interest in economic development. This visit quelled some anxieties about our trip and ignited our class’ excitement!

Class 50 with Minister Counselor Adriano at the Mozambique Embassy

We then traveled to the historic USDA Whitten building and met with Assist. Sec for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations for the USDA, Ken Barbic (from Bakersfield,CA) and Stephen Censky, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. We learned about the interactions between the USDA and Congress and how this influences policy decisions. Leadership lessons shared by Deputy Secretary included to treat people with kindness and to remember that when a door closes a window opens.

To close out the night, we joined, CALF Chairman of the Board, Jeff Elder, Chairman of the DC Exchange, Chase Hurley, and many other program alumnus at the DC Exchange Reception. The reception helped us see the power of building our relationships with federal public servants, we felt like we bridged a gap.

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