Members talk farm bill in nation’s capital

DC Leader Trip_Group photo in front of White House

A few days after the Senate version of the 2018 farm bill was released, Indiana Farm Bureau members made their way to Washington, D.C., to lobby their members of Congress.

A trip planned for last March was cancelled due to weather complications, and that meant that some INFB members weren’t able to visit the nation’s capital as scheduled. So, they jumped at the opportunity to visit this June with a group of State Young Farmer Committee representatives and state officers.

With all of the farm bill action occurring this month, it turned out to be great timing.  

The group met with American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall and received a farm bill briefing from AFBF staff on the first day of their trip. Then, they were able to visit with Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff and chief economist. Jake Smoker, District 1 State Young Farmer Committee representative, said meeting with the vice president’s staff was an amazing experience.

“It’s something that without Farm Bureau I’d never be able to experience,” said Smoker. “The influence that Farm Bureau has to sit and talk with the chief economist for a half hour is something that I’ll never forget.”

On the second day of the trip, June 13, the group had the rare opportunity to watch a livestream of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry’s markup of the farm bill while at AFBF. That same day, the committee voted 20-1 to advance the farm bill, making it eligible for action on the Senate floor.

After the markup-watch party, INFB members went to Capitol Hill to meet with their respective representatives. With the House farm bill failing to pass on May 18 and the second vote in the House scheduled for June 22, INFB members were at the right place at the right time to discuss this important legislation.

Amanda Canary, INFB member from Johnson County, was scheduled to participate in the cancelled March trip and was excited to learn that she had another chance to advocate for agriculture. Canary said she appreciated the opportunity to meet with her representative, Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, to discuss important issues such as the farm bill and rural broadband access.

Smoker met with Rep. Pete Visclosky to talk about challenges people in his district have faced regarding the flooding of the Kankakee River and the farm bill. For a young farmer, Smoker said, the farm bill is extremely important because the banks require crop insurance for operating loans.

“For a younger generation coming back to the farm, the farm bill is something that is necessary to go through so we can have some predictability for the next five years,” said Smoker.