Farmers Talk Ag Issues with Lawmakers

WASHINGTON, D.C – From the moment the plane touched down in DC, the young farmers and ranchers from Georgia had a very busy couple of days ahead of them. Each minute is a valuable one as they get the chance to meet with legislators and let their voices be heard to the ones that represent them.

“Us as young farmers want to have a voice up here because everything that we do is taking over the next generation of farming or business, so, we’re trying to get to see where policies are affecting us or are going to affect us, so we feel like what we need to say should be heard and I feel like this is a trip for us to be heard on,” says Dustin Covington, GFB Young Farmers and Ranchers Chair.

Zippy Duvall, President of American Farm Bureau says, “when they come to Washington, they realize what an important role they can play by being here in person talking to congressmen and senators and being able to realize that there is a place that their voice can be heard.”

The trip couldn’t have come at a better time, as several big issues are being discussed on the hill that could directly affect anyone in ag. One of those big issues of course is the Farm Bill. Members got to hear from AFBF lobbyist, Dale Moore as he spoke about how the farm bill could be completed quickly due to the upcoming midterms, as those members up for reelection want to get their work accomplished.

“The policy issues or a lot of those things have been worked on over the past couple of years. Both committees have spent hours and hours, days even in various hearings, town hall meetings, listening sessions, so one of the things we know is they’ve got a good handle on how they’re going to work with the policy, how they’re going to meet the budget challenges they’re going to have to work with,” says Dale Moore, Executive Director of Public Policy at American Farm Bureau.

Trade was also a big topic as NAFTA negotiations have been underway. Senator David Perdue had a meet and greet with the group and talked about some issues including trade. He reassured the group that that they know how important trade is to AG and that their interests are the top priority at the negotiating table.

“The president knows now the relationship the ag community has in the NAFTA agreement, and so he’s going to be very careful with that,” says Perdue. “What we’re trying to do is protect American workers, American industries, and at the same time, developing closer working and trading relationships with our trading partners like Mexico and Canada.”

We also got the chance to talk with Senator Perdue about infrastructure. In order for the ag industry to be successful, infrastructure needs to be up to date. Here in Georgia, roads have already seen repair, but the next big thing is broadband to be able to connect to the world digitally.

“I met this week with the Georgia Department of Transportation folks, and they are on it. I think there’s a way to combine our interstate layout of our interstate highways with broadband piping to get capabilities into these rural communities. We know that’s a big deal,” says Perdue.

Another part of rural development; having a steady workforce. Senator Perdue talked about the importance of revising the H2A law and how it will help rural communities in Georgia and all over the country.

“We know we’ve got to attract workers back into those areas,” says Perdue. “So, in the ag community, we know that the H2A law has got to be revised, we’re working on that, and we know that if you give people the opportunity to make a decent living, the rural communities will thrive and they’re thriving right now.”

By: John Holcomb