The week of December 10 was a busy week of serving as a voice for Farm Bureau members in Minnesota. Often times I am asked, what has Farm Bureau done for me lately. So, here’s a glimpse of your Farm Bureau membership at work.
When flying to Washington, D.C. on a Monday morning, our public policy engagement doesn’t start in D.C., it usually begins at the Minneapolis-St Paul airport. With the upcoming farm bill vote, Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) had the opportunity to ask Congressmen Nolan, Lewis and Paulsen to support the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, or as most will call it, the farm bill.
After arriving in D.C. and an organizational meeting of the five American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) resolutions subcommittee chairs, MFBF had the opportunity to meet with Mary Kay Thatcher and David Flakne from Syngenta to discuss the importance of pollinator habitat, the use of Best Management Practices (BMP’s) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM), seed stewardship and other topics important to crop production.
The day began with an early morning meeting with USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky discussing the serious financial and emotional challenges in agriculture and the importance to quickly move forward on the second half of the Market Facilitation Program payments while continuing to push for trade and tariff reform from trading partners like China, Canada, Mexico.
At our AFBF board meeting, we voted unanimously to support the farm bill and the USMCA trade agreement.
The Farm Bureau state presidents traveled to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters to witness the signing of the proposed Clean Water Rule. This new rule will empower farmers and ranchers to comply with the law, protect our water resources and productively work our land without having to hire lawyers and consultants. Farmers are for clean water and clear rules.
As part of the AFBF resolutions process, the AFBF policy book is divided into five subcommittees that are made up of the presidents of the 50 states and Puerto Rico and the chairs of the Young Farmers and Ranchers (YF&R) Committee and Women’s Committee. I chaired the subcommittee responsible for animal agriculture, food protection, quality and safety and animal and plant pests where we reviewed the 134 resolutions submitted from 30 states.
The evening ended with all 12 of the Midwest Region presidents having dinner with President Duvall to discuss the realities of the tough farm economy, and how Farm Bureau can continue to support our members.
Because only 31 of the state presidents serve on the AFBF Board of Directors, President Duvall holds our December AFBF Board Meeting to enable all state presidents to attend. The AFBF Resolutions Committee met all afternoon to discuss, debate and determine the final resolutions report that will be presented to the delegates at our 100th Annual Meeting in January. To some, our Farm Bureau process may seem to take a long time, but we are truly a grassroots organization that honors the democratic process at the local, state and national level. It takes time to develop sound, solid Farm Bureau policy.
Media interviews were completed before meetings with Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith and Congressmen Collin Peterson and Tom Emmer where we thanked them for their support of the farm bill and reminded them how important it is for us to defend and expand our trade opportunities.
We met with José Ramón Cabañas Rodríguez, the Cuban ambassador to the United States and Miguel Fraga, the first secretary of the Cuban embassy in Washington, D.C. to discuss how we can continue to build the relationship between our neighboring countries.
Early morning reports back to Minnesota media began the day before meeting with newly appointed Natural Resource Conservation Services (NRCS) Chief Matt Lohr and other senior USDA staff. We discussed the importance of NRCS being an open and transparent office that will partner with farmers.
Julie and I extended our stay to volunteer for our ninth consecutive year for the 27th Annual Wreaths Across America Day. This year semi-trucks delivered over 253,000 wreaths to more than 56,000 volunteers which placed a wreath at every gravesite at the 624-acre Arlington National Cemetery. Did you know that a total of 1.75 million wreaths will be placed on markers across the country in 1,640 locations? This event certainly reminds us of the value and importance of honoring those who sacrificed so much to protect our freedoms.
It was a wonderful surprise to visit with Vice President Walter Mondale at the airport. After a busy week in D.C., MFBF will continue to advocate on behalf of our members with our incoming members of Congress and the people that will soon be heading to the capitol in St. Paul.