This week I was able to visit Washington, D.C., for a variety of meetings. The main purpose of my visit was to attend the American Farm Bureau Council of Presidents Meeting, but I also made sure to connect with others while there.
On Sunday, I attended a dinner for new presidents. I appreciate the time to gather with my counter parts. As you know, learning and networking with each other is always an important tool.
Monday consisted of a new state president orientation for most of the day. During this orientation, we dove into the complexities of American Farm Bureau Federation and the American Farm Bureau Foundation and how they serve our state Farm Bureaus and our members.
In the afternoon I met with Farm Service Agency Associate Administrator Steve Peterson and Dana Ashford, Division Director of Conservation, for an hour. Our conversation was focused on Clear30, carbon markets and cover crops.
I made sure to express to Mr. Peterson that we need winter forage to be included in the USDA crop insurance premium rebate program and that the categorization of the cover crop as a winter forage should not make a difference on whether it is eligible for a rebate. Cover crops are for healthy soils and water and must not be categorized differently. I also emphasized that the enhanced rental rates for enrolling in CRP were driving private rental rates higher and increasing expenses for farmers. We also discussed carbon markets and the need for the program to be flexible and voluntary.
At the end of our meeting, I mentioned the need for additional flexibility when transporting state inspected meat across state lines. I was pleased to hear that he was going to pass it along to the department’s attention. The conversation was good, and I appreciate the time Mr. Peterson and Ms. Ashford gave to myself and WFBF’s Director of Governmental Relations Tyler Wenzlaff.
Afterward, I attended a fundraiser for House Agriculture Committee Ranking member Congressman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson. We discussed farm labor needs, Federal Milk Marketing Orders and dairy pricing. He was headed to Wisconsin the following day for farm tours as well as an evening fundraiser; it was nice to connect with Congressman Thompson in D.C. since I could not be in state with him. We appreciate him reaching out to Wisconsin Farm Bureau to network and build connections with our members.
On Tuesday, the official council of presidents meeting started. We were greeted by AFBF President Zippy Duvall. We visited with both U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Michael Regan, Administrator at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We were briefed by AFBF staff on tainability items, infrastructure, immigration, taxes, WOTUS, land use, drought, trade and supply chain issues.
That afternoon I had an American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture Board of Directors meeting where we took time to look at the resource planning for STEM courses. As teachers move into the next generation of science standards, they will need real world context. Agriculture fits great into this area. Success of the Foundation is driven by the passion of our volunteers. The Foundation continuing to create updated materials in support of our volunteers is key in helping engage our youth.
I also had a chance to present WFBF’s Friend of Farm Bureau award to Congressman Bryan Steil. We announced our recipients last fall but have been limited in delivering the awards due to COVID. The full list of recipients were Senators Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin along with Congressmen Ron Kind, Mike Gallagher, Glenn Grothman and Bryan Steil. We appreciate all efforts to advance agriculture forward and know relationships like these are important to help us make traction and advocate on behalf of our members’ policy. I discussed taxes, labor as well as dairy and beef pricing with Congressman Steil.
The council of presidents meeting continued Wednesday with a visit from U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) and briefings on communications, Right to Repair, livestock markets, labor and member training resources.
We were excited to have a visit from United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai. As you know trade is a big topic area for Farm Bureau and it was great to hear her perspective on where things are at and where we are headed. We discussed moving a TPA forward with strategy, holding our trade partners accountable for trade agreements, creating long term trade agreements including working with China, EU and UK. Ambassador Tai wants to address the needs of farmers and said, “Agriculture is part of the fabric of America.” We discussed the global supply chain issues and addressing U.S. port needs. Ambassador Tai will also be traveling to Wisconsin later this week.
We also heard from Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Dr. Jewel Bronaugh who shared an update from the United States Department of Agriculture. Speaking for a resilient supply chain, spurring competition within the beef industry, climate smart agriculture and assistance for drought-stricken areas.
Wednesday afternoon included a meeting with the American Farm Bureau Board of Directors. I am honored to be on this national board to share a Midwest perspective from Wisconsin with representatives from all around the nation.
Thursday concluded with meetings of the American Agriculture Board of Directors and American Farm Bureau Insurance Services, Inc.
As your president, it makes me proud to know that we have powerful connections which lead to providing our members with the representation they need. I am excited to bring back this information to Wisconsin so we can continue to work on behalf of agriculture.
Kevin Krentz was elected to the WFBF Board of Directors in 2012 to represent District 5, which includes Adams, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Juneau, Marquette, Waushara and Winnebago counties. In December of 2020, Kevin was elected a s President of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. Kevin and his family own a dairy farm in Berlin. He started his farming career when he purchased his father’s 60 cows in 1994. He grew the farm to 600 cows and 1,300 acres of crops.