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CCFB News» April 2019

Manifolds, Manolos, and Manure

04/01/2019 @ 7:45 pm | By Bona Heinsohn, CAE

The history of Washington, D.C. is tied to its role as the capital of the United States.  Like many issues, it was created and designated through compromise and consensus. 

 

This system of compromise and consensus holds true today.  The best outcomes are the result of compromise.  Farm Bureau leaders had the opportunity to influence the legislative, regulatory, and rule-making processes in March.  Leaders discussed not only the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill but the need for free and open trade, investment in infrastructure, and the clarity offered by the proposed Clean Water Rule.

 

Leaders traveled to the Canadian embassy to discuss trade, specifically Illinois-Canada trade.  In 2017, Illinois exported $1.5 billion worth of agricultural products to Canada including $295 million in food preparations and $270 million in prepared cereal products.  Illinois, on the other hand, imported $1.8 billion from Canada including $146 million in fresh, chilled or frozen meat.  Canada is the United States’ second largest trading partner behind China.  Illinois’ trade relationship with Canada provides over 344,000 Land of Lincoln jobs.

 

Transitioning from the priority of trade to the priorities of year around E-15 use and water regulations, leaders met with officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Leaders discussed the clarity provided by the Clean Water Rule as opposed to the muddy and messy regulations created by the Waters of the U.S. rule.  The Clean Water Rule ends years of uncertainty over where federal jurisdiction begins and ends.  Members are encouraged to text ‘WATERS’ to 52886 to express their support for this clarity.

 

Leaders traveled to The Hill to meet with Congressmen as well as their staffs to discuss the importance of trade and to lobby for investment in infrastructure improvements.  Members met with Congressmen Casten, Davis, Kinzinger, Lipinski, Rush, and Underwood, as well as Senators Duckworth and Durbin.  In addition to carrying the message of trade, infrastructure, E-15 year around use, and regulations, members also lobbied for improvements to the H2A visa program for agricultural workers.  Many farms, including Cook County farms, rely on immigrant guest workers for labor.  Those farms bear the cost of workers’ housing, transportation, insurance, and salary.  However, the process is in desperate need of streamlining a message that was also carried to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.

 

No agricultural fly-in is complete without a visit to the USDA.  Members met with leaders from the National Organic Program, Agricultural Marketing Service, Risk Management Agency, National Resources Conservation Services, Rural Business Service, and the Farm Service Agency before carrying the message of free and open trade to the White House Council of Economic Advisors.  The message of free and open trade was echoed again when leaders met with Farmers for Free Trade, which is a coalition built to inform the public about the benefits of free trade and to mobilize farmers to act to support beneficial trade agreements.

 

Leaders also met with the Earth Science Division at NASA to discuss ground water and crop condition monitoring.  Through a variety of tools including satellites, instruments on the International Space Station, airplanes, balloons, and ships, on land Earth Science researchers collect data about land cover, land use and vegetation, ocean currents, temperatures and upper-ocean life, and ice on land on sea.  Leaders rounded out their fly-in with a visit to the White House, which is not only the oldest public building in the District of Columbia, but 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is the most famous address in the U.S.  It is truly a building built on compromise and was an appropriate conclusion to a fly-in that was built on advocating for priorities while building members’ knowledge and confidence on issues.