Nearly 150 farmers, including some from Limestone County, met with elected officials and agency representatives to discuss trade, the farm bill and disaster relief during the Alabama Farmers Federation’s biennial Washington Legislative Conference March 5-7.
Federation President Jimmy Parnell said the conference is valuable to members as well as congressional and agency leaders.
“This was a great trip, with some of the best meetings we’ve ever had in Washington,” Parnell said. “It’s important for our leaders in Washington to put a face with who they represent and work for, and it’s important for our members to have direct access with decision and policy makers.”
U.S. Rep. Glenn “G.T.” Thompson, R-Pa., spoke about the importance of workforce development with the 150 Alabama farmers. He was appointed to the House Committee on Education & Workforce in 2008 and is serving his fourth term as co-chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus.
He introduced the Career and Technical Education for the 21st century Act that passed the House and Senate unanimously and was signed into law by President Trump last year.
Other briefings focused on food and agriculture policy, trade and regulatory relief for farmers and ranchers. Breakout sessions included small group meetings with Congressional members and agency professionals to discuss agricultural disaster relief, farm labor, feral swine control and crop insurance.
Farmers also visited the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, where they heard Administrator Andrew Wheeler speak on the new Clean Water Rule, crop protection product registration and continued efforts by the agency to engage the agricultural community.
“You are welcome here,” Wheeler told the Alabama group. “Let us know what your problems are. We want to hear from you, and we’re here to help you. Thank you for not being afraid to come see us at EPA.”
While in Washington, AFF members attended a special ceremony honoring U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., March 7. Shelby received the American Farm Bureau’s coveted Golden Plow Award, which recognizes members of Congress who exemplify agricultural leadership and support of Farm Bureau policies. It is the highest award given by AFBF.
Earlier that day, each of Alabama’s seven U.S. Representatives attended breakfast meetings with their constituents to discuss issues of local and national relevance.
Other highlights of the conference included a welcome dinner cruise along the Potomac River and a moonlight monument tour.
— Report provided by the Alabama Farmers Federation.