By Nate Bair, AgriPOWER Class VIII participant
September 13-15, 2016 I had the great opportunity to go to our nation’s capital on behalf of Ohio Farm Bureau as a member of AgriPOWER; what a truly great once in a life-time experience. The opportunities that each of us had because of the relationships that American/Ohio Farm Bureau has built was incredible. From sitting down with our state representative, the Ag Senate Committee members, trade policy officials and USDA officials, this is all something that could not have been accomplished without the hours of dedication from current and past members in making this organization what it has become. I am truly thankful to have been able to be apart of such a beneficial trip.
The topics discussed ranged from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 2018 Farm Bill and crop insurance and meeting with the French Embassy to learn about their agricultural industry and discuss the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
We were informed that nearly 80% of the Farm Bill is for nutrition (food stamps and other similar programs) and the remaining actually deals with agriculture. The reason that the Farm Bill is presented this way is because a true farm bill would not get passed through Congress on its own. As with the general American population, the amount of congressmen and women connected to agriculture is rapidly diminishing. For this reason a combined Farm Bill is necessary in order to pass. The programs inside the Farm Bill are too important of risk management tools not to have available for our farmers.
I am not able to pick a single meeting as my favorite, but I can narrow it down to two. Meeting with the Ag Senate Committee and having our concerns as Ohio farmers heard was time well invested. In addition, meeting with the USDA official discussing programs to help bring in the next generation of American farmers into the industry was rewarding. It was good to see and hear that government officials are aware of the increased difficulties for young farmers to enter this profession, even if they have the assistance of a current family operation.