Kate Lee  -  New and emerging technologies

Young Nuffield (Bob Matson) Award

I am 28 years old and I worked for the UK farming unions and the National Pig Association in Brussels from September 2006 until September 2012. Whilst this was a very cosmopolitan life I lived and breathed agriculture every day in trying to communicate the needs and aspirations of UK farmers to policy makers.

Key policies I worked included organic food, biotechnology, cloning, food labelling and climate change. I also worked with the EU Commission, Member State Governments and the European Parliament at a crucial time when welfare laws were coming into force on farm animals such as laying hens and pigs. 

I had a joyful upbringing in Cheshire, I have a twin sister Jenny and a younger sister Amy who work in photography and fashion. I love languages and speak French, Spanish, Portuguese and I am learning Danish. Otherwise in my spare time I enjoy hiking, running half marathons (I could never do a full one!) and touch rugby. I am also partial to a bit of singing and dancing! 

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Six million farmers on Capitol Hill

American Farm Bureau issues wish list following Obama reelection

Posted by Kate Lee on November 15, 2012

Appears in Aquaculture, Crops, Dairy, Energy, Horticulture, Livestock, Organic, Pigs, Poultry, Technology

Today began in an office 10 stories high with a view over the gleaming shiny white Capitol building, caught in a rare ray of sunshine in Washington D.C.

I was meeting the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), an organisation representing around 6 million American farmers and led by President Bob Stallman, a rice and cattle producer from Texas. I was there to discover what life is like trying to defend the interests of farmers in one of the most powerful trading nations of the world. 

D.C. bears a striking resemblance to Brussels and we're not just talking about the rain. The streets here are lined with smart suited men and elegant women in business skirts and heels. They are discussing politics, congress, upcoming votes and their briefing deadlines.

I got the impression that, just like at the EU in Brussels, competition is fierce to get the ear of policy makers and make sure your point is heard. My notion was confirmed during the meeting, when I learnt that the AFBF works rigorously to ensure that its policies are based on a careful balance between democratic input at grass roots member level and guidance from experts. 

Last week's election in the US means heightened activity, as lobbyists and interest groups place their demands during the crucial 'lame duck' before January when President Obama and the new Congress are inaugurated.

For American farmers one of the key issues is the new Farm Bill. Many of the provisions laid out in the Bill - a government-funded safety net for American producers - expired in 2008 so the pressure is on to get a new farming policy in place.

The AFBF was involved in the 'Farm Bill Now' rally back in October calling for a 'comprehensive, five-year farm bill'. The 'catastrophic loss revenue program'  relating to crop insurance is one of the key issues at stake. For them, federal programs and crop insurance are an important way to ensure confidence for producers. 

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