Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day 3 - Tuesday, September 27

We met first thing with the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection.  They shared with us their structure, how they spend their budget and some statistical information on German agriculture.   Their focus however is mainly on the area of consumer protection, which seems to be very prevalent within the German government.  They not only focus on the safety of the product or its health or environmental benefits, they look at the process on how it was created.  This can lead to new products being derailed for non-scientific reasons and once you are started down that path it is difficult to retrace your steps.
We then toured the Reichstag where the German parliament meets to discuss laws and scrutinize the government.  The buidling has a facinating and rich history of war, separation and reunification.  There are over a million bullet holes in the building with much of the destruction being left to help reconnect to the tattered past.  The architecture is also amazing as new features were added after reunification to update the building and carry a message of transparency in government.
We followed the tour by meeting with the Foreign Ag Service at the U.S. Embassy.  There we were breifed on trade with the EU and Germany.  We also talked about hot topics like GMOs and cloning.  We also talked about the recent German ban on nuclear energy.  It surprised us to learn that one third of their corn silage production is used to produce methane for energy production.
In the evening we had dinner at a traditional Rhineland restaurant and watched some soccer with Thomas Huschle, Vice President of the German Rural Youth Association. Which is much like our YFR program, but it adds other rural trades to their membership.  They are the official youth program of the DVB.

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