By Jackie Mosier, Paulding County
AgriPOWER Session 3 was a three-day trip to Washington, D.C., focusing not only on high-level policy issues, but how we as agriculture advocates can band together to tell our stories in an effort to protect the ag industry.
Day One of this fast-paced expedition began in Washington, D.C., where the AgriPOWER associates met with Ohio Farm Bureau’s Young Ag Professionals group. This discussion on critical agriculture policy issues was front-lined by Ohio Farm Bureau’s Jack Irvin, who stressed the importance of several current events and their impact to us as individuals as well as our communities. Learning about the latest issues and concerns was instrumental in planning follow-up visits with our district congressional representatives. After planning congressional visits, both the AgriPOWER group and Young Ag Professionals departed to visit American Farm Bureau’s building for a tour of their facilities and a walk around the roof terrace, which overlooks the Washington, D.C. skyline. The evening ended with dinner at the historic Gadsby’s Tavern, a historic restaurant in Alexandria.
Day Two began with meeting Rep. Bob Gibbs (pictured) from District 7, where he shared additional information on the policy issues that would further prepare the groups for their congressional visits. Next up was a visit to the New Zealand Embassy. During our visit, we learned about agriculture in New Zealand from Phil Houlding, the trade and economic counselor, and Janine Collier, the first secretary of trade and agriculture. At the end of our session at the New Zealand Embassy, the group departed for Capitol Hill for a tour of the grounds and the meetings with congressional representatives. My congressional visit was with Rep. Bob Latta from District 5, where we discussed immigration, tax reform and the forthcoming farm bill. During our time with Mr. Latta, the group was able to tell our stories as professionals within the agriculture industry and tie back how these issues affect us personally, as well as among our communities. Several members of the group were also able to attend the Senate Ag Committee briefing with Joe Schultz, Democrat staff director at the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, and Matt Erickson, dhief economist for the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture. My group also had a chance after our discussions to visit the Library of Congress, where we able to tour the Thomas Jefferson Exhibit and see an original Gutenberg Bible. Once our congressional meetings were over, both AgriPOWER and Young Ag members parted ways for dinner and an evening monument tour.
Day Three was the final day in our nation’s capital and began with learning about Farm Bureau involvement opportunities and a visit to the United States Department of Agriculture. During our visit to the USDA, we had an opportunity to hear from Chris Beyerhelm, associate administrator for operations and management. Mr. Beyerhelm provided the group with pivotal information about the Farm Service Agency, more specifically, how it can provide assistance to young and beginning farmers. Additionally, the group had the opportunity to learn about the Foreign Agricultural Service. The last stop on our Washington, D.C. trip was a visit to Mt. Vernon, where our group had an exclusive walking agriculture tour. This experience showed us how George Washington farmed and the new technologies he utilized that spearheaded further advancements in agriculture. In addition to the walking tour, the group also had the opportunity to visit George Washington’s home and other buildings on the property.
The trip to Washington, D.C., although short in time, did not fall short in content. From learning about ag policy to seeing the home of our first president and everything in between, the time spent in Washington advocating and representing the agriculture industry was a rewarding experience for all involved and built a strong foundation for our continued work.
Session 1 blogs
Eric Reed is excited about implementing the “Building Strong Communities” project.
JD Bethel talks about the strong partnership between Ohio Farm Bureau and Nationwide.
Leadership is influence, explains Melinda Lee.
Session 2 blogs
Communication with consumers is key, says John Arnold Jr.
Stephanie Rucinski vlogs about the relationship between media and agriculture.
Brenda Mescher talks about community “why” rather than “what.”
Addressing tough conversations is the subject of Terri Specht’s blog.
Session 3 blogs
Jess Campbell talks about the United States of Agriculture.
Respectful conversations are vital, says Craig Pohlman.
Megan Lezzer describes making a difference in D.C.