Farm Bureau bends Washington’s ear
Grant Moorse of Minneota and Brad Hennen of Ghent joined 20 other Farm Bureau members from across the state traveled to Washington, D.C. and met up with State Senators and members of Congress.
The trip, which took place Sept. 11-14, was dubbed “Farmers to Washington” and sponsored by the Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF).
“The thing I found interesting about this trip is that when we were discussing things like how the trade issues are going, all the farm groups agreed on everything,” said Moorse, who also serves on the MFBF Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee.
“The last time I made this trip to Washington, D.C. five years ago, half of the people were thinking one way and half were thinking the other way.”
Minnesota Farm Bureau is comprised of 78 local Farm Bureaus across the state.
Members make their views known to political leaders, state government officials, special interest groups, and the general public. Hennen and Moorse represented Lyon County at the Farmers to Washington excursion.
Hennen was sponsored by the Farm Bureau and Moorse by the Young Farmers and Ranchers.
“This is the fourth time I’ve gone to Washington in the last six years,” said Hennen.
“Farm Bureau usually sends a couple of members each year.” The Farm Bureau members were able to meet with Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith.
And they also met with members of Congress Collin Peterson, Tom Emmer, Betty McCollom and Jason Lewis; as well as other staff members from the offices of Peterson, Emmer, McCollum, Lewis, Erik Paulsen, Rick Nolan and Tim Walz.
“We learned a lot about the process and who is involved in making the decisions,” said Hennen.
“You get to learn how the wheels turn and meet staff members and gain a personal rapport with them.”
“One of the big things we addressed is the farm bill is due to expire at the end of September and the Senate and House aren’t agreeing on the language.”
“There’s an urgency of getting it done on time because there needs to be continuity with no gaps.”
Among the issues discussed during the meeting state officials were Farm Bureau's policy priorities to include the completion of the 2018 farm on time, defending and expanding trade opportunities, protecting and expanding the Renewable Fuel Standard, finding a solution for the farm labor shortage, and cutting the burdens of regulations.
Farm Bureau members also met with U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretaries Ted McKinney and Bill Northey, USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson, USDA Secretary and American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall.
They also attended the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee Hearing on Perspectives on Agricultural Trade and were able to visit with several officials.
“Farm Bureau is a bipartisan group,” said Moorse. “But we don’t look at it as who is Democrat and who is Republican.”
“We want the people that are best suited for Minnesota agriculture. And we feel we have two of the best Senators because they definitely go to bat for agriculture.”
Although most of the time spent in Washington D.C. was geared toward getting their voices heard, as well as listening to state officials about the future of agriculture, Farm Bureau members were able to find a little time to take in some of the sites. “When I went the first time, it was also on 9/11,” said Moorse.
“And I really wanted to see the Pentagon. But we were so busy during the day that I had to see it at night.
“So this time, I got to see the Pentagon in the afternoon. There is a memorial there and even though it was 17 years ago, it was a somber time with some of the family members (of the 125 victims) sitting around and visiting.”