An Intern Reports: Finding a Seat at the Table

USA Rice intern and AR farmer William-Mencer-Driving-a-Case Combine
Try this for plowing through DC traffic
Apr 10, 2017
WASHINGTON, DC -- My fondest memories from days on the family farm in southeast Arkansas were sharing conversations with my father and grandfather over breakfast and lunch each day, discussing things such as weather, jobs that needed to be done on the farm that day, commodity prices, and current events.  From a young age, I can remember having a keen interest in how the farm operated but also how legislation, regulation, and world events affected my father and grandfather’s day-to-day decisions for the farm.

I decided to pursue that interest in agriculture and policy by studying agriculture economics, law, and political science as a student at Mississippi State University.  My education made me aware of my obligation as a citizen of the United States, and as a farmer therein, to do something, to be involved, and make a contribution to the greater farming community.  

I was fortunate in getting the opportunity to intern at USA Rice, an organization with a mission to promote and protect the interests of the U.S. rice industry.  Having grown up on a rice farm, I have seen the results of the work done at USA Rice first-hand and I felt it would be an appropriate way to give back to an industry that has provided my family with the life we share today.

Working at USA Rice, I have gained invaluable policy experience attending farm bill conferences, accompanying staff as they met with legislators on Capitol Hill to talk about important issues specific to the rice industry, attending Congressional hearings, and getting to know the team at USA Rice.  

Living on the farm, it is easy to sit back and assume that our livelihood and way of life will always be there.  However, this experience has taught me the importance of showing up and making your case.  As they say here in Washington, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you may find yourself on the menu.”

I very much look forward to taking the lessons I’ve learned here back to my community and applying them to the next chapter in my life:  law school.  I know the insights I’ve gained into the federal process will be of great benefit no matter where this life takes me.  One thing I know for certain:  I’ll never forget where I came from, and that’s rice country.

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