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Volunteers bring farmers' views to Washington
by Callie Wells
For the 68th year, Ohio’s county Farm Bureau presidents traveled to Washington, D.C., despite challenging weather, to meet with lawmakers and discuss issues important to Farm Bureau members.
The weather prevented some lawmakers and other speakers from making it into Washington, but all of the county presidents were able to meet with their legislators or their staff, which many consider the most important part of the trip.
Topics discussed with each of the congressmen ranged from tax and immigration reform to food safety and regulatory burdens as well as issues affecting their districts.
“The most important part is to help put a face to our issues in our county and to continue to build relationships with our legislators so that when we need help and need things done that we can get that done a little more quickly,” said Jake Bodimer, Gallia County Farm Bureau president who was on the trip for the first time.
Bodimer said he really enjoyed the Congressional Ag Forum, hosted by Congressman Bob Gibbs. Gibbs lined up a number of leaders from various committees to speak to the group. The forum allowed members to hear from several leaders and also ask them questions about issues impacting Ohio agriculture that their respective committees might handle.
Other activities on the trip included a visit to the Canadian Embassy to discuss the relationship between Canada and the United States, trade and how Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulation has impacted trade. The presidents also heard from American Farm Bureau’s Mary Kay Thatcher and U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden about farm bill implementation.
Sen. Rob Portman spoke to the group about trade and the farm bill and was presented with Farm Bureau’s Friend of Agriculture award for voting in support of agricultural issues.
Ohio Farm Bureau President Steve Hirsch summed up the need for the trip by quoting French statesman Charles de Gaulle who said “Politics is too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.”
“That’s why I’m glad there are county Farm Bureau presidents and Farm Bureau members here to do this work, because you guys know how it affects your farm, know how it affects your community and know how it affects agriculture and will let them know that today,” Hirsch said.
Callie Wells is a communications specialist for Ohio Farm Bureau.