A New Washington Perspective From Kansas
This summer Michael Torrey Associates hosted Jeff Hadachek, a junior at Kansas State University, as the government affairs intern. Hadachek was able to expand his knowledge of agriculture policy and clarify his own professional goals. Read below to learn more about his experience as he navigated the world inside the beltway and his thoughts after returning to Kansas.
Summer in Washington: A Novel
After interning this summer with Michael Torrey Associates, I’m guessing that some of my friends and family might assume that I want a career in politics resulting from my experience in Washington, D.C. My response to this? I want a career in policy. I discovered the distinction between politics and policy this summer. Reflecting on my time with Michael Torrey Associates, I also found some ironic similarities to the book I’m currently reading, Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.
Politics are the “cover of the book.” This summer was an especially unique time to be in Washington because of the current presidential race. It’s fair to say that politics have evolved over the years to become a horse race between two individuals. The debate about the government’s role in American lives has become about big personalities, controversy, and unfortunately, a negative connotation to many. – But like evaluating the cover and title of the book doesn’t dig into the plot, politics is only the most visible part of what happens in D.C.
Policy is the storyline. This summer was marked by a significant GMO labeling bill for the food and ag industry, which exemplifies the policy making process that happens in Washington, D.C. Sure, there were plenty of politics involved in passing such a bill. But it is also an example of the compromises and countless hours of research required to make policy that has immediate impact on American lives. And, in this case, the work is far from done in developing the policy, as it now passes to the USDA for a two year implementation process. – By reading further into a book, one is able to understand there’s more than meets the eye. Too often books are just judged by their cover.
The storyline takes time to develop. Political campaigns sometimes promise immediate solutions, but policy is a complex and lengthy process. That’s why, according to an economic modelling service, there are almost 2 million jobs in Washington, D.C. tied to the federal government. It’s unfortunate that sometimes the politics that happen every four years overshadow the policy making that happens in between. Being in Washington, D.C., as I have this summer, breaks down that barrier to see the full story. Just as in Go Set a Watchman, Jean Louise Finch had to be physically present in Maycomb, Alabama to spot the foundation of unrest among her hometown. – We shouldn’t settle on preconceived notions before we get to the end of a story. There’s always more to learn.
I’ve witnessed that policy making process first-hand through my internship with Michael Torrey Associates. Firms and trade associations work tirelessly to best represent members and clients and communicate their values to lawmakers to develop that storyline – which just takes time. I gained insight into how the gears turn in the federal government machine, and not just the “smoke” the machine produces. In the book, Jean Louise returned from New York City with a different perspective than the town where she grew up. I’m sure that my experience this summer will mean a similar perspective shift for me when discussing the policy – rather than the politics – in my interaction with friends and family back home.
Lastly, I can’t say enough about the Michael Torrey Associates team. Jean Louis discovered that it’s the people that make a place worth living. I would amend that slightly to say that it’s the people that make a place worth working and an industry worth serving. My interests were considered every day, and I assure you, whatever your stake may be with the firm, that you are handled with the same diligence.
Jeff Hadachek – Government Affairs Intern
Jeff is a junior at Kansas State University studying Agricultural Economics with a Quantitative and Research Methods emphasis. He grew up on a production agriculture farm in North Central Kansas, where he developed his passion for rural economics and agricultural policy.
Top Left: MTA interns, Jeff Hadachek and Grace Bahler with Michael Torrey at the annual IDFA Ice Cream Social. Bottom Left: Jeff Hadachek at the Capitol. Top Right: The Michael Torrey Associates Team celebrates Sarah Hubbart being honored. Middle Right: Jeff Hadachek speaking to other interns during Michael Torrey Associates’ Ag. Intern Network event. Bottom Right: Kerry Lynch, Sarah Hubbart, Jeff Hadachek and Stephanie Butler at the U.S. Botanic Garden to see the rare blooming of the Corpse Flower.
Food and agricultural organizations that need the right results in Washington, D.C. can trust Michael Torrey Associates to put its relationships, reputation and expertise to work on your issue. Since 2005, the firm has successfully provided legislative and regulatory guidance, issues management, communications resources and association management services to a wide variety of clients. Learn more about us at www.torreydc.com or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org