Most of us have been frustrated by politics, especially this election season. Regardless of how irritated we may be, a recent trip to Washington D.C. with a group of Young Ag Professionals, reminded me how important it is to be involved in the political process.
Since we need money to live, we all have a job, or receive some other sort of assistance. Either way, our income and lifestyle can directly be tied back to decisions made in our nation’s capital. As a part of Ohio agriculture, I can directly see how the Farm Bill and regulations affect our family’s business and income. The Farm Bill is written, debated, re-written and passed on Capitol Hill. One of my favorite sessions on this trip was hearing from staffers on the Senate Ag Committee share how they are involved in creating the Farm Bill.
We had multiple speakers to discuss how trade deals are written, negotiated, and passed. Trade is a critical issue to agriculture and to my family’s small farm. We visited the French Embassy to learn about trade agreements with the US from their perspective. Since we are least cost producers, free trade benefits domestic agriculture. There are far more mouths outside of the United States than inside of our borders. So, as we look at opportunities to grow markets for agricultural products, increasing exports (via trade agreements) is a huge component.
Our group spent time at the American Farm Bureau office to learn how to have a successful meeting with our Congressperson. We were given an overview of hot agricultural topics, and we planned who in each group would discuss each of these issues with our elected officials.
The following day we took a tour of the United States Capitol Building, and then we met with our elected officials or their staff.
On our final day we visited the United States Department of Agriculture to learn about young farmer programs and discuss trade agreement implementation.
A resounding message that I heard from many of our speakers is how much they want to hear from us. Our elected officials, their staff and agency employees actually want to hear from us, the people that their decisions and policies affect. We need to stay abreast of the issues that affect us and communicate with our elected leaders. A personal letter, e-mail, or phone call about an issue that is affecting us can make a difference. Each vote can make a difference. I was reminded that each voice matters!