The number of opportunities that I have had by being involved with Wisconsin Farm Bureau have been countless! Once again, I was chosen to attend the Washington D.C. Fly-In and embarked on another adventure with fellow young farmers. The Washington D.C. Fly-in is designed to give attendees the chance to speak with their elected officials, legislators, agencies, and other professionals about current agricultural issues and policies.
Our group had the privilege to see the American Farm Bureau building and get briefed on key agricultural issues involving immigration reform, trade and NAFTA, regulatory reform and the 2018 Farm Bill. The key messages were to keep trade negotiations going, pair nutrition with agriculture in the Farm Bill, have a fair regulatory system and figure out a way to have a stable, year-round workforce. I was surprised to hear of a new program coming out at the end of summer called Dairy RP (Revenue Protection), which was put together by American Farm Bureau as a risk management tool for dairy farmers to use on milk production. Farmers will be able to choose how much milk they want to cover and for how long, up to 15 months out. It is similar to crop insurance and farmers can choose to sign-up any day.
American Farm Bureau staff shared tips on how to structure our congressional meetings based on the key issues and encouraged us to share our personal stories. From there, we visited the USDA to discuss beginning farmers and ranchers programs, conservation programs, dairy and MPP and crop insurance. We had an opportunity to talk about improvements we would like to see in the programs and also aspects about them that work well for farmers. CRP enrollment will be continued until the end of the fiscal year and there will be the opening of the CRP grassland program, which will allow for grasslands to still be used as working land for grazing or hay production.
Later that day, we were able to tour the New Zealand Embassy where officials gave a presentation on all the agricultural commodities that their country is known for. They showed us a video promoting their grass-fed beef market. The video has not been released yet, but it was a very impressive promotional item for them to use in the future. The presenters mentioned that they would love for the United States to come back to TPP because they view the U.S. as having potential to be a leader within this trade group.
As we met with our legislators from Wisconsin, we had the chance to share how the issues with trade, the farm bill and immigration affect us personally. Senator Ron Johnson was called into a meeting with the president on trade during our scheduled meeting time, but Representative Ron Kind and Senator Tammy Baldwin both seemed unsure about the trade war in general and whether a farm bill would get passed before current law expires. There was a high level of concern and worry for anything involving the agriculture sector. We also ran into the National Cattlemen’s Association young leader’s group and heard that they were advocating for the same issues, along with trucking regulations and updating the endangered species lists.
Our trip also involved sightseeing as we were able to see Arlington National Cemetery, George Washington’s Mt. Vernon and many of the monuments located throughout the city. These tours are such a humbling experience to know what so many people did to fight for our country, something that I could never be able to show enough gratitude for. I felt the whole trip was very eye-opening and an important experience. My favorite part was getting to meet all of the amazing, passionate and talented people that went on the trip with me. I am concerned about the future of agriculture, so I hope that if we all do our part in advocating for fair regulations, then we can positively influence the future.
Tammy grew up on River View Farm, which has been in her family since 1848. She currently owns 25 head of beef cattle (Angus and Shorthorn) out of their 110 head, as well as manages her own business called RiverView Photography. She graduated with an animal science and communications degree from the University of Wisconsin- Platteville and started working for Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association shortly after graduation.