As other college students celebrated their first day of Thanksgiving break by sleeping in, I was in attendance at the Agriculture and Bioscience Issues Forum, part of the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Caucus Federal Issues Series. Had you asked me a year ago if I would be interested in attending this 8 a.m. Monday morning event – let alone excited about it – I would have called you crazy. However, with election season approaching and my new interest in these industries, I figured it would be a good idea to hear how the policies of feeding, fueling and healing the world will affect the upcoming election.
Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst led the discussion, touching on the future of renewable fuels, GMO’s and conservation concerns. As the Corridor’s intern for the past 11 months, I have been exposed to these issues, however, after hearing the senators discuss these issues and the challenges associated with them, I realized how important it is to actually understand what is happening around me. I walked into the event having no clue what the TALENT or PATENT acts were, reverse patent trolling sounded foreign to me, and the discussion about the Trans-Pacific Partnership went way over my head.
What was my next move after walking out of the event? Googling the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I found out it is a trade agreement among 12 countries regarding matters of economic policy. The agreement aims to “promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labor and environmental protections.” As a voter, this is an issue I need to be aware of, in addition to how the presidential candidates feel about it.
This deal is only one of many that I need to brush up on before I cast my ballot next November. Until then, I will be looking up Hillary Clinton’s ideas regarding rural communities, Ben Carson’s thoughts on agricultural subsidies and how Carly Fiorina feels about the EPA. As an Iowan and a young person who will soon be entering the workforce, now is the time to educate myself on all issues – not just those mentioned on the debate stage.