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Farm Bureau members rally for a ‘Farm Bill Now’

—By the AFBF Public Relations Team & Kathleen Dutro IFB Public Relations Team

With the expiration of the current farm bill quickly approaching, and in the midst of the worst drought in a generation, Farm Bureau members, along with farmers and ranchers from across the nation, rallied at the nation’s capital on Sept. 21.

Farm Bill Rally 2
Members of the pilot group of IFB’s new leadership program, Leaders in Action, were in Washington, D.C., during the Farm Bill Now rally held on Sept. 12. The leadership group had front-row spots at the rally, where they heard pleas from congressmen and leaders of advocacy groups to pass the farm bill before the House recessed. Photo by Mindy Reef

American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman emceed the “Farm Bill Now!” rally on Capitol Hill.

The event drew hundreds of participants from across the country, including farmers, congressional members and leaders from agriculture, conservation, energy, consumer and nutrition organizations.

Among those in attendance were Indiana Farm Bureau members, all participants in the IFB leadership development program who happened to be in Washington on a lobbying and educational trip.

Speakers at the rally urged Congress to pass a new, comprehensive, five-year farm bill before current farm programs expire at the end of September.

“Perhaps never in the history of farm legislation have so many diverse farmer and rancher voices joined together for such a common call for action on a farm bill,” said Stallman during the event.

“We gather here under a banner adorned with three words. FARM. BILL. NOW. And we are here to raise our voices toward Capitol Hill…for a shared purpose.”

The farm bill isn't just a bill for farmers. The USDA says that 1 in every 12 American jobs is directly related back to the farm.

AFBF is encouraging Congress to reach agreement on the House Agriculture Committee and Senate-passed bills.

Congress adjourned for its election break without reaching a deal on the bill. According to Brownfield Network, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said at a Sept. 20 news briefing that conservative members don’t like the Ag Committee bill’s $900 billion price tag while those with more liberal leanings do not support a proposed $16 billion cut in food assistance programs.

Also among those who spoke at the event was Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee; Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., ranking member of the Agriculture Committee; and Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D.

The event was endorsed by 88 organizations representing a broad range of commodity and specialty crops, livestock, dairy, state and local governments, energy and bio-based products, farm cooperatives and financial groups.

One of IFB’s representatives at the rally was Clinton Taylor of Boone County, who said that the trip to Washington had been an eye-opener for him.

“You don’t realize that you can actually make a difference,” he said. “They (members of Congress) are there for us, and they’re so removed from agriculture that it really takes people educating them.

“You really have to get out of your tractor seat and get active. They want to hear from you,” he added.

Farm Bill Rally
Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan spoke at the rally, reminding the crowd that the Senate’s version of the farm bill passed with bipartisan support in June. Stabenow served as chairwoman of the Senate Ag Committee. Photo by Mindy Reef
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