A relatively light amount of snow slightly altered the Wednesday plans for the 2017 Farm Bureau County Presidents’ Trip to Washington D.C. after the federal government had been put on a 3-hour-delay due to the wintry wonderland. The changes went undetected as the day brought a wealth of knowledge from agriculture-related professionals, including senior leadership of the American Farm Bureau, along with international officials and much more.
Breakfast with Sen. Sherrod Brown brought forth comments from the Ohio Democrat about what he sees on the horizon for agriculture, specifically the 2018 Farm Bill.
Listen to Sen. Brown speak on a question from the Ohio Ag Net about agricultural priorities going forward.
During a Q&A session with the senator, Jim Rowe of Tuscarawas County vocalized the thoughts of farmers in his area on immigration reform. He said his community has seen Hispanic workers become a valued part of their lives and farms, in turn echoing the need for immigration reform, giving a heartfelt and unfiltered expression that seemed to reflect the sentiment of many in attendance.
Hear Rowe’s question to Sen. Brown here in this raw audio
Another recurring theme on the trip has been opioid abuse and what Sen. Brown and more are hoping to do for the Midwest rural areas affected most by the addiction.
The senator was followed by an impromptu visit by American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, who, among other topics, covered the top priorities for AFBF in Washington, his interactions with Donald Trump, and even a heartfelt story that harkened the spirit of the American farmer and priorities that lie within.
His genuine appeal to the common man was clear in the room, receiving a standing ovation following his talk.
Ohio Farm Bureau President Frank Burkett was responsible for the last minute gain of Duvall as a speaker Tuesday morning.
Burkett expounds on bringing in the AFBF president and the trip in general.
Due to the snow delay in place, a planned trip to various embassies was out of the question. Instead, a representative from the Mexican embassy, Francisco Sandoval, spoke to Ohioans on trade between the two countries, highlighting the value NAFTA has brought since its inception in 1993.
“For Mexico, NAFTA was a big deal,” he said, focusing on the change in living the country has experienced in the 24 years since the North American Free Trade Agreement was put in place.
“NAFTA has nearly tripled since its beginning in 1993,” Sandoval said. “Each minute, $1,000,000 worth is traded between the United States and Mexico.”
He also noted that Mexico is Ohio’s second largest exporter at 13% of all exports. Canada takes the top spot. Sandoval reiterated the value of positive relations between the two countries with Mexican companies operating 246 business establishments in Ohio.
Wednesday has a hefty time set aside for legislative meetings with elected officials from Ohio. Time was allowed on Tuesday for congressional meeting planning amongst Farm Bureau members ahead of those important get-togethers.
“We’ve got a lot of things to talk about farm-wise, a lot of things community-wise and socially – so it’s a good day to be in Washington D.C.,” said Clinton County Farm Bureau’s Beth Ellis of Cherrybend Farms.
Tune in as Ellis speaks more on the trip overall and what her group hopes to communicate on Wednesday.
Ohio Farm Bureau ate lunch with members of the Iowa Farm Bureau, in town for a similar event. The Buckeyes and the Hawkeyes heard from a D.C. ‘political insider’ that covered a wide range of topics, including the key issues at the moment — Obamacare, tax reform, Supreme Court appointments, and the Farm Bill.
“The Farm Bill hasn’t been done on time since 1990,” he said. Though he hoped for a change this year, he expects quite a bit of negotiations ahead, especially in the area of SNAP benefits and safety net programs. He also brought up the point of USDA needing to harness control of the U.S. Forest Service, which takes up a near 35% of department funding while having considerably little oversight by its parent agency.
The talk was followed by visits to various commodity groups covering corn, beef, pork, milk, and more.
This reporter sat in on the meeting with the National Corn Growers Association, which pushed for the need to advocate for crop insurance, especially with Ohio representatives. He also spoke on the newest round of funding, in which farm groups are pushing for increased dollars to USDA’s budget — a lofty goal.
County presidents and other attendees will be headed back to Ohio Wednesday afternoon.