2011 USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum insights
BROOKINGS, SD – A South Dakota State University student said that a wealth of important speakers and a blizzard of information were among the best parts of his trip to Washington, D.C. for the 2011 USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum last month.
Brian Gottlob, a junior agricultural education major from Salem, SD, took part in the multi-day event in Washington, where he attended speeches by a wide range of industry and government leaders including former President Bill Clinton and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
USDA officials picked Gottlob as one of only 24 college students to take part in the event. More than 90 students applied for those 24 spots. Gottlob said the experience illuminated many things he has recently studied on campus in Brookings.
“I was excited to take part, and to hear and see things that we had recently discussed in my classes at SDSU, to have Fortune 100 business leaders discussing those same topics, it was invigorating,” said Gottlob. “It really put what I had learned in class into perspective and gave me a better understanding of what’s going on in the world of agriculture.”
In addition key industry insiders, Gottlob said the mixture of participants was also astounding.
“The speakers and participants were from all over the globe, but I also ran into a guy who only lives 10-15 miles from me, so it was intriguing, there were just so many speakers, so much information,” said Gottlob. “Discussions covered many global issues, from Brazilian approaches to development and agriculture to the role of global food security. They all developed the connections between the systems in such vivid terms.”
Larry Janssen, SDSU professor of economics, also attended the events in Washington, D.C., including meetings with the National Agricultural Statistics Service. He noticed the recurring themes of the events, including the impact of global development on American agriculture.
“Secretary Vilsack spoke of the developing world and the envy of many nations over our land grant university system,” Janssen said. “Overall, the entire program was packed with information, so having an SDSU student in the mix was a great experience for Brian. It was something I hope SDSU takes part in every year.”
Beyond global topics, Gottlob said breakout sessions and speakers discussed and explained a wide range of topics from traditional agriculture to rural development and changes in diet across the U.S. and the world. Currency wars, the rise of Brazil, and the economic impact of instant communications all were parts of what Gottlob said was a once-in-a-lifetime educational opportunity.
“The group of students I was with really helped me to make sense of our approaches and our education and how they fit into the big scheme,” Gottlob said. “It was a very busy time, but extremely enjoyable. I returned to campus with a better understanding of the world and of world agriculture.”
Gottlob’s essay that helped him earn his spot at the forum is displayed on the USDA’s Web site at http://www.usda.gov/oce/forum/diversity/diversity_program.htm.
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