“We are a true grassroots organization, not just a hashtag.”
Those words from OFBF Executive Vice President Adam Sharp to county presidents as they gathered in Washington, D.C. couldn’t have rung more true. The decades-old relationship between Ohio Farm Bureau and national leaders was on full display during the 72nd annual County Presidents’ Trip in March.
Farm Bureau members had the opportunity to hear from several members of Congress and talk one-on-one with their representatives and policymakers about priority issues impacting agriculture and their communities, such as immigration, tax reform, trade and the farm bill.
Below are highlights from the trip:
Thursday, March 15:
American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall made a special appearance at a breakfast featuring Sen. Rob Portman. He presented the senator with the Golden Plow award, which is the highest honor AFBF gives to sitting members of Congress.
AFBF President Zippy Duvall, Sen. Rob Portman and OFBF President Frank Burkett III. Photo courtesy of American Farm Bureau.
“Senator Portman is a champion for farmers, particularly on regulatory reform,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. As lead sponsor of the Regulatory Accountability Act, he “is working to bring common sense to the federal rule-making process,” Duvall noted. “Farm Bureau is grateful for his dedicated service to agriculture and rural America.”
Following breakfast county presidents attended the majority of their congressional meetings. A trip to the Canadian Embassy and the Smithsonian Museum of American History capped the trip to Washington.
Wednesday, March 14:
County presidents and the rest of the Ohio group welcomed Sen. Sherrod Brown during breakfast then participated in congressional planning sessions before hearing from Ted McKinney, undersecretary of trade and foreign agricultural affairs at USDA.
A key highlight of the morning was a visit from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who held a question and answer session following remarks to Farm Bureau leaders from Ohio, Alabama, Iowa and Missouri at the Holiday Inn Capitol. Pruitt (left) is pictured with OFBF President Frank Burkett.
Some congressional meetings were held by a few members on Capitol Hill throughout the day. County presidents from southwest Ohio met with their congressmen, Rep. Brad Wenstrup and Rep. Steve Chabot, center, with OFBF Board Trustee Lane Osswald of Preble County, Greg Griffen of Warren County, Bob Beckman of Hamilton County and Steve Knollman of Hamilton County.
After lunch most of the Ohio group arrived at the Rayburn House Office Building where they had the opportunity to hear from several members of the House of Representatives, thanks to former Ohio Farm Bureau President and Congressman Bob Gibbs’ Farm Forum. One highlight was a brief speech followed by a question and answer session with House Speaker Paul Ryan, pictured here with Gibbs.
For agriculture journalists on the County Presidents’ Trip, the day ended with dinner at the National Press Club with keynote speaker Ellyn Ferguson, who reports on agriculture as a staff writer for CQ/Roll Call in Washington.
Tomorrow, county presidents will hear from Sen. Rob Portman at breakfast and then will attend the majority of their congressional meetings. A trip to the Canadian Embassy rounds out the trip as everyone heads back to the Buckeye State tomorrow afternoon.
Tuesday, March 13:
County presidents, members of the agricultural press and Farm Bureau staff descended on a sunny but chilly Washington, D.C Tuesday and immediately went to work preparing for meetings with members of Congress to discuss priority issues. Several prep and information sessions were held at American Farm Bureau Federation headquarters with AFBF and OFBF staff members.
The Ohio contingent was briefed on the importance of their grassroots efforts as it impacts policy on a national level. AFBF staff briefed the more than 100-member group on priority issues affecting agriculture including immigration reform, regulatory reform, trade and the 2018 Farm Bill.
In the late afternoon, Ohio Farm Bureau members met with their counterparts from the Iowa Farm Bureau.
Tomorrow the group will attend breakfast with Sen. Sherrod Brown then participate in congressional planning sessions. Following the planning sessions, members will hear from Ted McKinney, undersecretary of trade and foreign agricultural affairs at USDA. A highlight of the day is scheduled for late morning when Ohio Farm Bureau will welcome Farm Bureau members in Alabama, Iowa and Missouri to hear a special guest speaker before breaking for lunch.
In the afternoon, county presidents will make their first trip to Capitol Hill where they will sit in on Congressman Bob Gibbs’ Farm Forum, featuring several members of Congress, including scheduled guest House Speaker Paul Ryan.
County Farm Bureau presidents are making their annual visit to the nation’s capital March 13-15, 2018 to learn about the issues facing agriculture, such as immigration, tax reform, trade and the farm bill. They also will meet with agriculture agency staff members and visit in-person with their legislators and their staff members. The group is also scheduled to take part in sessions with members from Alabama, Missouri and Iowa Farm Bureaus.
In their opening remarks, both Ohio Farm Bureau President Frank Burkett (top) and Executive Vice President Adam Sharp encouraged county leaders to tell their own stories and make their voices heard when meeting with their representatives over the next three days.
In the News
Members of the media and some Ohio Farm Bureau staff are accompanying the presidents on the trip. Here are some of their stories:
Ohio’s Country Journal: