I’m back home after attending the annual convention of the North American Agricultural Journalists in Washington, D.C. I’m now the group’s Midwest Region vice president; it’s by far our biggest region in terms of membership, so the position is a real honor.
It was a busy and beneficial trip that included a trip to the White House, visits with others ag journalists from around the country and and meetings with top USDA officials and Congressional ag leaders.
I learned a lot on the trip. Some of it was important, some merely intesting.
Some of it was new or virtually new to me. Some of it was reinforcement of what I’d already known or suspected.
Here’s a sampling of what I learned:
— Farm groups aren’t exaggerating when they say the proposed Waters of the U.S. Rule, often known as WOTUS, is a huge threat to production agriculture. EPA has insisted farm groups are making too much out of WOTUS; two Washington-based ag writers who follow the issue closely told me that EPA is being, well, less than candid.
— Sen. Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican, is a genuinely funny guy.
— Media relations folks working for elected officials and government agencies put in long hours. You may or may not care for their employers, but you should respect their work ethic.
— Wearing a suit coat and tie straight through from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. is no fun at all.
— Though agriculture dominates my life and the lives of many Agweek readers, it’s just a minor player in Washington.
— Our system of government is messy and inefficient. It can be both scary and silly, sometimes simultaneously. But on balance it works pretty well.