“Agriculture is our wisest pursuit because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals and happiness.” – Thomas Jefferson.
After spending three days in our nation’s capital for the third session of AgriPOWER Class VI, I believe this quote to still be applicable in today’s evolving landscape and how our industry is involved in numerous offices across Washington. This session also was unique for the AgriPOWER class as we traveled to Washington with the Young Ag Professionals group.
To get the session started, the American Farm Bureau staff gave an outline of where their time, money and energy is spent to support today’s farmer, landowner and agricultural professional whether it be in tax reform, data concerns, Farm Bill implementation or the EPA and to give us, as agricultural advocates, the tools needed to make the most of our time while in Washington.
The following morning the AgriPOWER class was able to hear from Rep. Bob Gibbs and his work to promote U.S. and Ohio agriculture. Unfortunately with the ISIS situation at the forefront of the news, the rest of the congressional panel was unable to attend due to a mandatory caucus though we were able to hear from staffers from different offices and about how crucial their role is to the success or failure of a particular issue.
We were also able to visit the European Embassy later in the day and hear from the staff there and learn about how crucial it is to have sustainable trading partners to ensure a healthy and robust international trade environment.
Our last two stops were by far my personal favorites as they both have aspects that can and do affect my professional and personal agriculture connections. In listening to Joe Schultz, Senate Agriculture Committee chief economist, summarize the most recent Farm Bill, in particular how the Senate Agriculture committee addressed the vast differences in agriculture from region to region, and get into detail on any topic that it covers was not only a time to soak up as much information as possible but to also hear what others in our group have as concerns for their operations back here in Ohio. Our last meeting was at the USDA office where we heard from Dr. Gregory Parham, assistant secretary of Agriculture for Administration, and Levin Flake, agricultural economist for trade in the Office of Global Analysis, Foreign Ag Service. Dr. Parham gave us an update and overview of what USDA and their respective programs are doing to serve agriculture from Foreign Animal Disease surveillance to the future of our local Farm Service Agency while Mr. Flake discussed with us what the USDA does abroad to enhance exports in key markets for the American producer.
As an agricultural professional and beginning farmer, this trip was very eye opening, informative and fun as I was not only able to continue to network with my fellow AgriPOWER classmates but also with members of the Young Ag Professionals group knowing that we are all working towards the same goal which is the betterment of our agricultural industry for years to come. I am looking forward to our next session back in Columbus where we will learn about our great state’s government.
Read more from participants on the trip.