Farmers and ranchers discuss agricultural issues on Capitol Hill

By Julie Tomascik
Editor

A farmer’s work is not always in the field. Sometimes he wanders the halls of Washington, DC, speaking to lawmakers about issues important to agriculture and rural America.

That’s what more than 240 farmers and ranchers did in late April: they visited Capitol Hill to talk about livestock prices, disaster relief, border security and immigration, Trade and Farm Bill as part of the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB) National Affairs Awards trip.

It was the first time the members had traveled to the nation’s capital since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s great that we’ve been able to be in DC again as a great group, and I appreciate our members taking the time away from their farms and ranches,” said TFB President Russell Boening.

TFB and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) have staff who work with legislators in Washington, DC, on behalf of members. But it’s the people most affected by potential legislation who really hit home.

“It is imperative that we do this. It is very crucial to meet with our Congress leaders,” Boening said. “When they can hear people back home, when they can hear how things really affect their constituents on their farms and ranches, that’s what resonates.”

Their voices echoed through the halls and offices of Capitol Hill as they addressed issues affecting agriculture.

Farm Bureau leaders met with members of the Texas congressional delegation or their staff, as well as testimony from American senses John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.

“The visits to the office have been great. We visited most of the time with staff which is fantastic as we know working with staff is the fastest and best way for our elected officials,” said the TFB Vice President and State Director of District 1, Pat McDowell. “They asked for details on different bills, and I think it’s really good when we can tell them what’s going on at home and how it really affects us. They actually want to visit the members of the Texas Farm Bureau. We have a tremendous amount of validity and respect from those people, and that’s something very important, and we’re kind of reaping the benefits of that.

Farm Bill discussions are beginning, and this trip gave farmers and ranchers the opportunity to discuss risk management tools that are important in uncertain and volatile markets, like what agriculture has faced since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cornyn brought up these supply chain issues and inflation in his speech to the group.

“What I hear most from the agricultural sector is the impact of inflation on all the inputs needed to grow crops or raise livestock,” he said. “And one of the things that happened with the invasion of Ukraine is that energy security is now part of the conversation rather than emissions or climate.”

Cruz also addressed the group, noting that agriculture faces rising production costs, taxes and government regulations.

“The farming community is the beating heart of our state, but you’re seeing the cost of running your farm, running your ranch rising on all fronts. Washington’s inflation is a real problem. Every time the government spends trillions of dollars, prints trillions of dollars that we don’t have, it drives up inflation. We have to get it under control,” he said. “And farmers and ranchers in Texas don’t want to see new rules and regulations coming out of Washington that make it harder to run a farm.”

While TFB members were in DC, the House and Senate held hearings on livestock market legislation.

“We talked a lot about livestock markets and the concentration of packers,” Boening said. “We oppose the Livestock Price Discovery and Transparency Act as written because of government mandates on how packers should purchase livestock.”

Finding a long-term solution to securing the Texas-Mexico border was also a key topic of discussion.

“Our congressional delegation understands the problem, they really do,” Boening said. “But we have to keep working on that. We must continue to talk about the need to ensure border security. We have members there who experience it and suffer from it every day, and we need a viable solution to this crisis. »

Conversations also touched on taxes, rewriting the U.S. waters rule, disaster relief and trade.

Members of the current AgLead class were also present.

The trip took place from April 26 to 29.

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