College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Agricultural & Resource Economics

UMD AREC Senior Selected for USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program

2018 USDA Agricultural Outlook Diversity Forum

Esha Tariq, a senior Agriculture and Resource Economics major, represented the University of Maryland at the USDA Agricultural Outlook Forum Student Diversity Program on February 20 through February 23.

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and UMD AREC Student Esha Tariq

Only 30 students are selected nationwide to be a part of the event. Students selected must have an interest in agriculture, agricultural business, agricultural economics, communications, nutrition and food science or pre-veterinary studies. Twenty of the students selected are undergraduates, and ten are graduate students.

The purpose of the forum is to give students who study agriculture exposure to agribusiness, future agricultural trends, scientific research, and agricultural policy in the today’s context, according to the USDA website. This was the fifth consecutive year a student from the university had been at the forum. The program began in Washington D.C.

“We met with a variety of agencies of the USDA in downtown DC including NASS, ERS, and the World Agriculture Outlook Forum,” said Tariq in an email interview. “We also went to the Senate office building to meet with staffers of the Congressmen who are on the committee of agriculture, and had a Q&A session where we mainly asked about upcoming policies that they plan on including in the new Farm Bill.”

The second part of the conference was held in Arlington, Virginia. Tariq met people in the agriculture industry and attended sessions about food prices, food waste and watershed protection. A major theme of the forum was that the agriculture industry is changing and needs to change to keep up with global shifts.

“The experience was really great,” said Tariq. “Being surrounded by really smart students and professionals who are also passionate about agriculture was inspiring - I feel excited again about joining the ag workforce.”

Tariq was selected for the program after completing the application process and submitting an essay about having a career in agriculture. Based off of the essay and her recommendation letter from a professor, she was selected to participate from over a hundred applicants.

“I really want to encourage other students from the university to apply to the student diversity program next year,” said Tariq. “It's an amazing opportunity that I want other students to have a chance at experiencing.”

After graduation, Tariq plans to attend graduate school, and is currently applying for internships.

“AREC helped me to find a place in the agriculture world that I can step in and contribute to,” said Tariq. “Because of AREC, I understand that economics plays an important role in agriculture.”

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