Buckeye Farm News
By May, more than 4,000 Farm Bureau members from across the country will have traveled to Washington, D.C., bringing agriculture’s message directly to national policymakers.
For the 63rd year, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s (OFBF) county presidents made their annual trek to Capitol Hill to lobby on behalf of farmers back home.
“This is about taking the broad perspective and relating it to what you do,” OFBF President Brent Porteus told the county presidents. “Your face-to-face interaction personalizes all the messages we say throughout the year.”
During a briefing on current agriculture issues at American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) headquarters, AFBF Director of Public Policy Pat Wolff told the presidents that their job was the most important role in Farm Bureau, helping it to become one of the top 25 lobby organizations in the country. “I cannot make a member of Congress care, but that’s what you can do by coming here and speaking up for what is important to you,” she said.
Athens County Farm Bureau President David Bright said the issue briefing from AFBF, combined with visits to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and an agricultural forum with several key legislators, gave the presidents information to take to their lawmakers.
On his third lobbying trip, he said legislators care when people from back home come to their Washington offices. “When they associate a name with a face, and a face with an issue, they know how important it is to their constituents. Our presence here makes a great impact,” he said.
He said just being in the nation’s capitol is inspiring. “You really feel you’re an American seeing the magnitude of the buildings and the hustle of government happening before your eyes. It’s overwhelming and I’m never disappointed any time I come to Washington.”
The Washington lawmakers were also quick to express gratitude for the interactions back home in their districts. During a breakfast, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, thanked county presidents for helping to give him an understanding of the richness of Ohio agriculture through his roundtables and farm tours in Ohio.
But perhaps Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, best helped the presidents understand their roles in D.C. “The best voices we hear are from our lobbyists back home,” he said.