Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ohio Farm Bureau President’s Trip to Washington D.C.

Last week I traveled t/o Washington D.C. with fellow Ohio Farm Bureau President’s, news reporters and Farm Bureau staff. There were 113 of us representing 214,000 Ohio Farm Bureau members.

Me on Capital Hill
We heard from Congressmen, Senators, Embassy staff, USDA representatives, FDA scientists, and the American Farm Bureau (AFBF) team. They spoke about policy ranging from the Farm Bill to Health Care Reform to Immigration. This is my second year participating in this experience.

The first order of business was a briefing by AFBF on current federal policy issues that have an
impact on agriculture, including immigration reform, water quality standards, food safety reform for produce farmers and the Farm Bill. All add additional rules, regulations and costs to farming.

Oliver Flake, USDA, presented the factors affecting global ag markets over the next decade. The
main factor is the growing population and the rise of the middle class in developing countries. This sector has an appetite for animal proteins which accounts for the rise in demand for meat and dairy products. The declining U.S. dollar, global crop production, biofuels, and biotechnology are other factors that will impact agriculture.
We had a great visit to the Australian Embassy
During a visit to the Australian Embassy we learned that they produce 93% of their food. They export 62% of their agriculture products, with wool and wine being their top two exports. Farmers in Australia don’t receive any government subsidized crop insurance or other farm subsidies.

We learned about this proposed produce safety rule
Our group visited the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to learn about the proposed rule on
Standards for Produce Safety Under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  This policy sets guidelines for growing, handling and storing fresh produce. It’s currently in the public comment stage and Farm Bureau is actively engaged in the discussion.

Me, Eric Cotton & Nate L'Amoreaux in Congressman David Joyce's office
The second day ended at the Capital where we heard from Members of the House of
Representatives including John Boehner (OH), Paul Ryan (WI), Brad Wenstrup (OH), Bob Goodlatte (VA), David Joyce (OH) and Bob Gibbs (OH). They advised they are working hard on a budget, immigration reform and the Farm Bill among other issues.

The final day we had the opportunity to hear from our two Senators; Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman. They both spoke about the federal sequester that began March 1st. They both believe
spending cuts are needed, but the trick is agreeing on what to cut.

Here are links to some of the articles written about this experience:
Day one of OFBF trip to Washington: Regulations, and more regulations, Farm & Dairy
Washington lawmakers talk budget cuts and sequestration with Ohio Farm Bureau, Farm & Dairy
Boehner Pledges a Farm Bill in 2013, The Lima News
OFBF Presidents Try to Kick Start D.C., Ohio Ag Net
Putting a Face with the Issues, Brownfield Ag News
2013 Ohio Farm Bureau Presidents Trip to D.C.

Thanks to the Ohio Farm Bureau staff for organizing such an educational trip. I appreciate the
opportunity to participate and have a voice with federal policy makers!

1 comment:

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