Hi all, my name is Rachael Buzanowski and I am an ASAS intern from Pompeys Pillar, Montana. I am spending my summer in the Washington, D.C. office of U.S. Senator Steve Daines of Montana before heading into my senior year at Kansas State University. I have learned so much during my time in the office so far. While the Senator’s office is involved in many issues, I am most interested in those relating to agriculture. These issues range in the size of their impact: some affect only Montana, some include the surrounding Western states and others affect the nation as a whole, for example, finding an agreement to ship U.S. beef into China.
My duties in the office include a broad spectrum of responsibilities. The ‘intern crew’ answers phones, sorts constituent correspondence and assists the legislative team with projects. The last part is my favorite: seeing a bill developed before making it to the Senate floor is an amazing experience. Before a bill hits the floor, a lot of effort goes into discussing and writing it. Many people are contacted to gather background information, potential impacts and support for the bill. This extensive process takes time, but by the end of it, a bill the Senator can support is introduced.
Our intern coordinator has helped to set up a very informative summer that has included guest speakers, staff debriefs and tours. Through these insightful experiences, all the interns were encouraged to consider our futures while evaluating our current paths. Hearing a person’s career path is an eye opening experience, given the variety that occurs from person to person. For me, these opportunities have confirmed that, regardless of the path I choose, it should be connected somehow to the agriculture industry.
I have learned a lot from visiting with Montanans involved in agriculture. I have been aware of some of the problems producers are having— but never have they been as real as when I heard producers speak personally with the Senator about their experiences. For example, the drought is a huge concern for farmers and ranchers in Eastern Montana and the Dakotas. Their concern about having enough feed for livestock, both for this summer and winter, has only escalated due to the severe lack of rain. It was exciting to see Senator Daines understand these issues and work hard to find solutions to these challenges.
One major issue facing the beef industry is gaining eligibility for U.S. beef to be exported to China. Senator Daines was instrumental in this victory and even hand delivered Montana steaks to China during negotiations. I was invited to shadow the Senator for one day a couple of weeks ago. During that time, I attended some Ag Committee hearings with him and had the opportunity to ask him a little about the relations with China. While there is still ground to be gained for our beef producers, this agreement is a good start for future business with China.
My summer has already passed its halfway mark. However, I am excited to see what the next couple of weeks have in store. I look forward to taking my experiences with me as I continue down my path of education and begin my career in agriculture. I am grateful for the opportunity to be in D.C. this summer and appreciate the support from ASAS to get me here. Thank you for choosing me to represent you in our great nation’s capital.