The number of cowboy hats roaming throughout Washington, D.C. has dramatically decreased yet again to a small select few as the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association wrapped up its 2011 Winter Fly- In this past week. February 28, brought a much welcomed sight of home to D.C. as a group of USCA members descended upon Washington, D.C. to participate in the Winter Fly-In.
The members flew in to the nation’s capital on Monday and as soon as their boots touched the ground they were off and running until they departed on Thursday, March 3rd. We had an agenda that ranged from meetings at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to sit-downs with top officials within USDA to a full day spent on the Hill meeting with our members’ elected officials in both the House and Senate.
As if the days weren’t busy enough, we planned 3 nights of activities for the members to truly top off their D.C. experience. We brought a different flavor to the Verizon Center as we were able to attend the Washington Wizards vs. Chicago Bulls game and then the Washington Capitals vs. New York Islanders NHL game the next night. Not to be outdone though, we wrapped up the entire fly-in with a reception that was held at the Hawk ‘N’ Dove, a legendary Hill Bar. Needless to say, the members who participated truly experienced ALL D.C. has to offer! (If anyone has any interest in participating in an upcoming U.S. Cattlemen’s fly-in, please contact us! We’re always looking for enthusiastic members to join us out East!)
I have been asked numerous times in the past weeks why associations hold “fly-ins”. To sum it up, the impact a rancher has walking in to their Senators’ office or to a meeting with a USTR Ambassador is truly on a different level than anything a resident of D.C. can do. While Jess and I both have our personal ranching backgrounds and are still active in the industry, officials appreciate and are genuinely interested in talking with producers fresh off the ranch.
The attention a group of 12 cowboy hats and boots garners in D.C. is amazing. Needless to say, we turned some heads this past week-but always in a good way. I can’t count the number of times fellow passengers on the Metro, servers in a restaurant, D.C. police officers, etc. would see us and tell us how much they love beef. It was exciting to have so many people be so eager to tell us how much they loved a great steak!
If only in this sense, fly-ins are such a pivotal tool in generating exposure for the industry. Not to mention the personal contacts made with offices and officials around D.C. With that, if you’ve never been out to D.C. a fly-in is the perfect way to do it, so come on out! I’ll attach a few pictures below, or you can view the whole fly-in album here: http://usca.shutterfly.com/
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