Posted By admin on March 4, 2015
Vice President Ashley Craun and I had the pleasure of attending NYFEA’s Ag Promise in Washington, DC March 1-3. This is the first time Virginia has had anyone attend the program except for maybe the Delegate meeting on Sunday. Ag Promise is a program with workshops, round table discussions on issues the agricultural industry faces, and a day on Capitol Hill addressing our Congressional Leaders. Those in attendance represented Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi, Colorado, Indian, Oklahoma, and Virginia.
The first day (Sunday) was an afternoon Delegate meeting and then talk about various NYFEA activities including the Ag Communication Award and recruiting participants, Social media, new contests and recognition, and engaging State Leaders. Dinner out in the evening provided an opportunity to make connections and network with other members across the US.
Day two consisted of a morning session with guest speakers from all aspects of the Ag industry. Speakers included Sherene Donaldson, National FFA Executive Secretary; Janet Adkinson, RFDTV; Karis Gutter, Deputy Undersecretary of Farm and Foreign Policy for the USDA; Bob Young, Chief Economist with American Farm Bureau; and Matt Mika, Director of Governmental Relations with Tyson. All of the speakers offered their thoughts on the current Ag industry and issues that they see in the future for agriculture. At the beginning of the morning session we were all asked to write down two issues that are important to us or that we see as challenges on an index card. In the afternoon session we broke up into groups, the index cards were handed out randomly, and each group was asked to come up with 3-4 key issues that we felt were the most important. Those issues were then presented to the whole group in a role playing scenario. It was interesting to see that the states represented all had basically the same concerns. The top eight key issues faced by all of the states represented were: (1) Consumer Education; (2) Minority and Immigrant participation in Ag Industry should be supported; (3) Ag policy should be based on sound research; (4) Transfer of ag assets from one generation to another; (5) Ag Education in ALL schools; and (6) Supporting policy that creates more opportunity in non-traditional agricultural jobs; (7) American leaders should UNDERSTAND Agriculture; and (8) The “Waters of the US” is a Policy that should be Pro-Agriculture. That evening a reception was held close to Capitol Hill where all Congressional staffers and aides were invited to join us.
On day three we took a bus to Capitol Hill. First stop was the Committee on Agriculture meeting room at Longworth House Office Building. Our first speaker was Congresswoman Martha Roby, Republican from Alabama with a great discussion about the Appropriations Committee and some of the key things they are working on. Bart Fischer, Chief Economist in the Ag Department then shared the process of developing and passing a farm bill. The rest of the afternoon was spent speaking to staffers and aids about the key issues from Monday’s workshop.
This is a wonderful program and I want to thank our friends at NYFEA for “making” this happen for Virginia. Ashley and I think it is a great opportunity that the state should continue participating in. We will be discussing some ideas at our next executive committee meeting on who would benefit from attending and how to make this happen.