Farm Bureau leaders emphasize value of trade during trip to Capitol Hill
WEST DES MOINES – Forty-three Iowa Farm Bureau leaders from across the state visited Washington, D.C. recently to discuss critical farm issues with their elected officials, including trade and tariff reduction, crop insurance and continued support of the Renewable Fuel Standard as part of Iowa Farm Bureau Federation’s annual policy trip.
The Iowa delegation met with Congressmen Rod Blum, Steve King, David Young, and Dave Loebsack, and with Senators Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst.
Farm Bureau leaders urged lawmakers to continue to pressure the Trump administration to successfully renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico, our two largest trade partners. With one in five jobs in Iowa dependent upon agriculture, and one in three rows of corn and soybeans grown for international markets, international trade opportunities and strong trade deals are vital for Iowa’s farm families.
“We need to keep our international markets open,” said Kevin Holst, a Scott County Farm Bureau member who raises row crops and cattle. “I really worry that we are going to get behind other countries that are working on trade deals while we are fighting about trade here.”
With the 2014 farm bill set to expire in the fall of 2018, members emphasized how essential crop insurance and farm safety net programs are for Iowa family farms. Farmers noted that federal crop insurance is the most important risk management tool they have to protect against potential disasters and keep their farms sustainable.
“Crop insurance really helps us develop a marketing plan with the depressed prices that we’ve been seeing the past couple of years,” Bremer County Farm Bureau member Kevin Meyer said. “These days you need to use different avenues to market grain, and crop insurance helps us do that.”
Members also urged their Congressional representatives to continue to protect the RFS from another round of attacks from the oil industry and allies. Members pushed for year-round sales of E15, as sales of the 15-percent-ethanol fuel blend are currently restricted during the summer months.
Farm Bureau members also had the opportunity to meet with top Canadian officials during a visit to the Canadian Embassy. Members shared the importance of expanding export markets for Iowa agriculture products and learned about Canadian agriculture production.
Those participating in the trip included, from left, Tyler Tempus of Northwood; Nick Larson of Randall; Judith and Robert Ritter of Dows; and Mark Buskohl of Grundy Center.
“Face-to-face meetings with our elected officials are important,” says Kevin Kuhle, IFBF national policy advisor. “We appreciate farmers taking the time away from their operations to tell their story on Capitol Hill. Our farmers understand how policies affect their farms, and it’s important that our senators and congressmen hear from their constituents regarding the impacts national policy has on their farms.”
The Iowa Farm Bureau national policy trip takes place twice annually for select county leaders. Each year, one half of Iowa’s 100 county Farm Bureaus have the opportunity to send a representative to speak on behalf of agriculture and rural Iowa. To learn more about the spring or summer national policy trip and other opportunities for Iowa Farm Bureau members, go to www.iowafarmbureau.com.