AFBF ag advocacy from the inside

Hello, I’m Joe Steiner. I farm near Lebanon and I’m active with the Warren County Farm Bureau and Ohio Soybean Association. I now have the opportunity to work with other volunteer leaders on an American Farm Bureau Federation Issue Advisory Committee focusing on farm policy and I recently attended my first advisory committee meeting as part of the AFBF Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C.

A variety of national trends and issues are impacting agriculture. We explored immigration reform and its impact on farm labor; regulatory and tax revisions, as well as basic provisions for the new farm b ill. Fox News Commentator and Analyst Juan Williams briefed us on changing demographic trends and their impact on the political landscape, noting that farmers are going to be working with younger citizens and more culturally diverse community groups

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt visited our conference just hours after President Donald Trump signed an executive order calling for an agency review of the WOTUS rule. Pruitt stressed the need for farmers to be involved in regulatory rulemaking and review at all levels.   

I had the opportunity to work directly with advisory committee members from all parts of the country. Given geography, commodities and markets, there is no one, all-encompassing strategy that will address all of agriculture’s needs. Cooperation will be needed to create the programs that will become our new farm bill.  

Advocacy is an important part of the conference. I joined 10 other Ohio Farm Bureau volunteer leaders and staff members for appointments on Capitol Hill. We saw many Ohioans making similar rounds to Ohio’s Congressional delegation. The staff that we met were very attentive and we had very good exchanges with all of them. Along with staff members, I personally spoke with Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Bob Gibbs and Rep. Bill Johnson.

We had a great trip with frank conversation on topics that impact Ohio farmers and our communities.

Caption: Ohioans at the conference attended Senator Portman’s Buckeye Coffee. I’m pictured in the red tie, with fellow farmers Mike Videkovich, Jerry Lahmers and John Davis. At the event Senator Portman chatted with many of the constituents in the room, including the Farm Bureau delegation, and then addressed the room on current events.