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Trip to Washington provides a platform for local leaders
The purpose of Ohio Farm Bureau’s annual county presidents’ trip to Washington, D.C. is for local Farm Bureau leaders to have conversations with their lawmakers about legislation and regulation and to represent the voices of Farm Bureau members in their counties.
This year’s trip kicked off with a briefing from American Farm Bureau on top legislative and regulatory issues facing farmers:
- Kristi Boswell said she is cautiously optimistic that immigration reform will happen this year, and that if it does she expects it to include a fix for agriculture.
- Don Parrish updated participants on water quality issues and commended Ohio Farm Bureau’s efforts to reach out to farmers about efforts to improve water quality and nutrient management practices and for being proactive to combat the problems agriculture faces.
- Attorney Leon Sequeira provided an update on the Affordable Care Act, saying that much is yet to be seen in terms of rule writing for this law and there is still a lot of gray area they are exploring.
Trade was a significant topic of conversation on the second day of the trip featuring a presentation by the Foreign Ag Service and visits to the Australian and Irish embassies.
A favorite activity for many on the trip is a forum organized this year by past Ohio Farm Bureau President and current U.S. Rep. Bob Gibbs. Participants in the forum included House Speaker John Boehner, who organized the forum in past years, and fellow Ohio Reps. Brad Wenstrup and Dave Joyce. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin also joined the group. Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman also addressed the group.
Food Safety Modernization Act
Farm Bureau members also visited the Food and Drug Administration to learn about food safety rules for produce as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
“I think it's an amazing opportunity not only to talk to people on the Hill but also for other counties to get together and talk about their issues and sometimes trade ideas and advice in a setting where we can focus on each other and not be distracted. Then you all come together and go to your congressman. What a great platform!” ~ Beth Ellis, Clinton County Farm Bureau vice president
“The importance of the presidents’ trip to D.C. is the opportunity for us to get members from counties in front of their congressmen to tell their story about legislation or regulation. They get to tell how it affects them and give some common sense farmer reasons why or why not to support something. The presidents get to tell how policy issues impact not only their family and farm but maybe their whole community. ” ~ Steve Hirsch, Ohio Farm Bureau president
"As I have new experiences with Farm Bureau, I have been more and more impressed with each event or activity. This trip has been a tremendous experience. I particularly enjoyed listening to the FDA discuss one of the rules they have put forth where it took an hour just to explain the basics of it. The most important thing there was the opportunity to make comments and ask questions in regards to the presentation.” ~ Ralph Coffman, Washington County Farm Bureau president