I-LEAD Heads to Washington, D.C.

July 13, 2010

Sure it’s hot and humid here, but the I-LEAD class has been making the most of our time during our week-long trip to Washington, D.C. We kicked off our activities on Monday, July 12 with a trip to Maryland and Delaware. We started the day at the Queen Anne’s County Welcome Center, followed by a visit to the Wye Research and Education Center to view the historic Wye Angus cattle herd research farm at Queenstown, MD.

Then it was off to the Nagel/Cawley farm to view a cucumber operation. We watched the crew harvest cucumbers, and then we had a chance to tour the cucumber grading facility where the cukes were sorted and shipped to customers ranging from small local buyers to the Vlassic pickle company.

Then we headed to Church Hill, MD, to tour the vineyard and winery at the Cassianelli Vineyard. This is a high-stakes business, with investments ranging up to $750,000 or more, and an average of seven to 10 years for the operation to turn a profit. After viewing the vineyard, we enjoyed sampling the wines.

Next we stopped by family-owned and operated dairy near the winery. We learned about their sand bedding system, the farm’s manure management system, the farm’s milking system and more.

We ended the day with a great barbecue meal at the 4-H Park in Centreville, MD. We also got to spend time with an I-LEAD-style group from Ontario, Canada, not only at dinner in the evening but again the next morning. We kicked off these meetings with a very interesting presentation from Michael Dykes of Monsanto, who shared his perspectives on the opportunities and challenges in ag in the years ahead.

Now we’re registered for the National Corn Growers Association’s (NCGA) Corn Congress here at the Capitol Hilton Hotel. After we sit in on the NCGA committee meetings, it’s off to dinner at Fogo De Chao, a Brazilian steakhouse, followed by a 2.5-hour nighttime trolley tour of Washington, D.C. and the monuments.

On Wednesday we head to Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers. More to come!

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