Thirty-two Iowa Farm Bureau leaders from across the state visited Washington, D.C. recently to discuss critical farm issues and the impacts with their elected officials during the annual summer Iowa Farm Bureau Federation (IFBF) national policy trip.
Those participating in the trip included Brent Bierbaum of Griswold and Jesse and Tasha Stimson of Clarinda.
The Iowa farmers urged lawmakers to push for swift passage of trade deals, primarily, the revised trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA).
Members say USMCA would ensure uninterrupted, free market trade with two of the top export markets for Iowa-raised crops and livestock; without it, members say Iowa farmers are falling behind global competitors in the race to capture market share.
“We just need to get the USMCA done,” said Cordt Holub, a Tama County Farm Bureau member as he prepared for meetings with Iowa 1st Congressional District Rep. Abby Finkenauer and Sens. Charles Grassley and Joni Ernst. “It’s just a step we need to take to build confidence with Canada and Mexico and our other trading partners. It will show that we are ready to do business.”
Matthew Baerg, a Fayette County Farm Bureau member, also identified USMCA as a top concern for him, and said the passage of the agreement would be a big win for Iowa farmers and the entire state, because it would bring a level of certainty to the markets. “Expanded trade is what we really need, especially for young farmers trying to get started.”
With Iowa farmers struggling through a sixth year of low commodity and livestock prices, the Iowa Farm Bureau leaders shared the importance of trade deals beyond USMCA, including Japan and China. The leaders also asked their representatives to pressure the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to end small refinery exemptions that destroy renewable fuel demand and hurt farmers and the Iowa communities that rely on ethanol production and renewable fuels.
The Farm Bureau members thanked Iowa lawmakers for support of the biofuels industry and for new EPA rules that allow year-round sales of E15, but urged the representatives to keep up the fight against the unwarranted use of small refinery waivers (SREs).
“I think our representatives appreciated us making the effort to come and see them in their offices,” said Emily Henkes of the Allamakee County Farm Bureau. “It’s important to voice our concern on key issues and help them understand the impacts of their decisions back home.”
The Farm Bureau members met with Iowa’s U.S. House and Senate members as well as top U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) staff, including Deputy Secretary Steve Censky and FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce.
“Face-to-face meetings with our elected officials in Washington, D.C. are important to help them understand how policy decisions impact farmers back home in Iowa,” says Daniel Heady, IFBF national policy advisor. “We appreciate members taking time away from their farms, particularly during this busy time of year, to tell their story on Capitol Hill and make a real impact.”
The Iowa Farm Bureau national policy trip takes place twice annually for select county leaders. Each year, half of Iowa’s 100 county Farm Bureaus have the opportunity to send a representative to speak on behalf of agriculture and rural Iowa. To learn more about the spring or summer national policy trip and other opportunities for Iowa Farm Bureau members, go to www.iowafarmbureau.com.