Last week I had the opportunity to participate in an Ag Study Mission to the Pacific Northwest with my I-LEAD (Iowa Corn Leadership Enhancement and Development) class. Myself and 22 others spent 4 days traveling to destinations in the PNW learning about agriculture from a different angle. We were able to learn about "farming" from a new angle by touring and talking with farmers who raise crops that are different than what we are used to in Iowa. We managed to find some common ground with them though - no matter what your crop is, you still face a lot of the same challenges.
Day two began with an Epicurean Excursion in downtown Portland, OR. We were enlightened by some of the locals as to how they determine where to buy their products from and what their views are of the local market. Oh, and we got to sample the fares at these establishments (which included a Dutch Taco, breads, coffee and sipping chocolate.) Our tour guide talked about the F.L.O.S.S. philosophy - Fresh, Local, Organic, Seasonable, and Sustainable. Everyone's definition of "sustainable" is different, but it was interesting to hear what the young urban people thought of the term.
The last part of our day involved attending a dinner with the Washington Ag Forestry group. They are a group that is very similar to our I-LEAD group. We had the opportunity to visit with people who have gone through the program as well as supporters of the group. I think most of our group had the opportunity to have some very interesting and enlightening conversations at the dinner.
We had a very education Ag Study Mission! I think the group agreed that we found common ground with the different farms that we studied. The farms in Washington and Oregon that were part of our mission are very labor intensive and yet still deal with many of the same issues that our Midwestern farmers deal with. The EGT, LLC facility is a great opportunity for us in the near future. This facility will streamline the flow of grain to the export market. This was an amazing opportunity to see agriculture from a different perspective.