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Gabriel Rater ’18 Reveals Policy Needs with Trip to Capitol Hill

 

Student Spotlight: Gabriel Rater

Agricultural Business Management, Class of ‘18
 
Gabriel Rater, Agricultural Business Technology B.T. ’18, doesn’t mind hardship. In fact, he may even thrive on it. So, when a snow storm left him stranded in Washington, DC for two extra days after a conference, he took advantage of the extra time to continue learning about agriculture and the workings of Capitol Hill. What he learned overall was startling.

Rater grew up on a small dairy farm in Western New York, and has spent summers working on a commercial fishing boat in Alaska. He was among the highly select group of agricultural students in the United States chosen to attend the Agriculture Future of America (AFA) 2018 Policy Institute session. The group of 36 students took part in leadership trainings, met with staffers and lobbyists, and visited the German embassy to learn about that country’s agricultural practices. They also met with members of other groups, including Future Farmers of America (FFA), 4-H, and Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS). The students were encouraged to reach out to their political representatives and schedule meetings while they were in the Washington, DC area. Rater eagerly embraced that idea, meeting with staffers from the offices of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Rater also met with U.S. Representative John Faso (R-Kinderhook, N.Y. 19th District). In the aftermath of a snow storm that stranded him in DC for two extra days, Rater attended the Chicago Council for Global Affairs’ symposium on global food security, an issue of great concern for him.

As he discussed policy with the people he met, on topics ranging from the Farm Bill and New York State agriculture to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), organic grains, and the Mohawk Valley, Rater realized he was very well-prepared by his SUNY Cobleskill education. Moreover, upon reflection he is struck by the fact that many people involved in representing agriculture and even setting agriculture policy in the United States do not have a background in the topic. Rater is still mulling over the implications of this insight, and is considering applying for an internship in DC so that he can learn more about how to contribute to national agricultural policy.

Rater has this advice for fellow students: “Coming from a small school does not mean that you can’t do big things. You can be a part of making changes. And coming from agriculture is actually a huge advantage.”

Featured photo: Gabe Rater poses with Congressman John Faso