Friday, 29 June 2012

Washington DC and onward....

Hi again from the air, or at least an airport lounge to start with.
We are moving again, this time from Washington DC to Toronto. It's often said that Canadians are more like Australians, and having been there a couple of times it always feels relaxed, with a relatively small population.

Washington had a capital city atmosphere, I can see how it's a monument to the democratic world and it wasn't lost on me as our host Hope Pjesky led a small, but hardy band of us around the highlights starting at the crack of dawn on Sunday. Breakfast would have been a smart move prior, as there was nothing available until mid morning.
The monuments were good to visit, all those things we see in movies there in front of you. The Lincoln and the Vietnam memorials were both very moving, and I was thankful we made the effort to be early, as the crowds were building fast, and both the temperature and humidity rising. Apparently it is something to see many of them at night as they are all beautifully lit - next time....

The plan of an early night in order to be fresh for two full days of briefings went a little awry due to an unexpected invitation to a gala dinner for 1500 people to celebrate the Washington restaurant awards. MLA have one of four stands, showcasing and serving fine Australian food, wine and beer. Boags Premium always tastes good, but in that setting I felt a little pride that our local brew was front and centre. Pity we didn't supply barley to them last season, but I'm impressed to see the marketing and promotion is still very strong for a relatively small brewery.
And the lamb chops were to die for, even Richard the kiwi approved!

Flying north to Toronto, city lights have been a constant below us, I only wish it was daytime to get a feel of the landscape as I did from California. A very bright half moon is centre of the small window, funny how I haven't missed it's presence over the last few weeks, but seeing it so clearly again.....

Had a very interesting briefing regarding the American Farm Bureau, the highly influential farm lobby group. They have 6.25 million members, paying an annual subscription of $50-60.
Every year they develop a complete policy framework, voted on at a county, then state and finally, national level. The structure gives members input and ownership of the policies and is greatly respected among politicians.

Well, that was a short flight, and on a very small plane considering it is international travel!

Now in Guelph, Ontario, the weather is a bit cooler, and the Canadian Nuffield hosts have been kind, as the meetings today were informal and not too long.
Land prices have gone up massively over the last few years, a succession of good seasons and high prices has meant producers are in a good position to expand if the land is available. $12,000 per acre, (yes, acre!) is common in Ontario.
There is still a fairly high degree of protection for Ag producers, and interest rates start at around 3.5% for 3 years.( including margin )

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