Our third session of AgriPOWER was a jam packed three-day trip to Washington D.C. where we focused on learning about federal policies and how they impact us locally. This trip also gave us the opportunity to connect and “take on DC” with some of Ohio’s Young Ag Professionals.
Day 1 started with an early flight to DC followed by an afternoon of learning about different policy issues and how to talk about these issues in our congressional visits that we had planned for Thursday. We had staff from the American Farm Bureau come over and talk about the more popular issues; ag labor laws, trade, farm economy and infrastructure.
I learned so much about issues I wasn’t familiar with but the most important takeaway I had was when Jack Irivin said, “Always remember that all issues are local.” When you think about that statement, you realize how true those words really are. No matter what level of government you are talking to and no matter what issue you are talking about, every single issue starts out local somewhere and it is our job to continuously teach people how that issue affects us locally.
That evening we took a tour of the Arlington National Cemetery and we were able to watch the exchange of guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
We started Day 2 with learning about mental health and how it is affecting the rural parts of our country. Jim Carroll was our speaker and he said that roughly 200 people die a day from drugs and that almost all the drugs that are killing Americans are coming from outside of the United States. One of the things his team is focusing on is how to get rural communities access to the right doctors and how telemedicine could be the next best way to get rural communities the help they need. We then got to take a tour of the American Farm Bureau offices before hopping on the bus and heading to Ireland … well technically the Ireland Embassy, but you get the picture. We were able to listen to the Ireland ambassador talk about how important the United States is to Ireland’s trade and the impact of Brexit on agriculture.
On our way back to the hotel we made a stop the Common Good City Farm which is nestled in the heart of DC. Common Good sells their food at the market every week and hosts many different workshops for the community geared to learning about the food they eat. It was so cool to see how agriculture can have an impact on people even in a big city like Washington, D.C. Once we got back to the hotel, we talked about global ag demands with Cary Sifferath who works for the U.S. Grains Council. We learned about who are the United States’ biggest trade partners – aside from China — and what different agricultural products each export. He also emphasized the importance of trade for the U.S. and how we can move forward with current trade agreements.
Our last morning was spent preparing for our congressional meetings and getting a quick election update from Cody Lyon and the American Farm Bureau. We then loaded up the buses and headed to the Hill. My group was able to attend the USMCA rally that featured several Congress members as well as industry leaders including Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau. We then got to sit down with our congressman’s aides and talk through the current issues affecting agriculture and how they are impacting us back in Ohio. Being able to talk about our everyday life and how trade wars or lack of infrastructure is affecting our communities was really eye-opening. We rounded out the day with meeting with staff from the Senate Ag Committee and learning about the committee operates.
Being back in Washington, D.C. educating folks on agriculture was a dream come true. They say all the magic happens in DC and I couldn’t agree more!
Ashley Brucker’s DC trip blog: Still more to do