When I think of our nation's capital, the first thing that pops into my mind is Capitol Hill. I then think of the White House followed by the national monument. For the first time ever, I was able to actually see these things up close instead of just seeing them in pictures or hearing people talk about them. However, there is way more to D.C. than just interesting architecture. Unfortunately, there is also the politics.
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to participate on the Nebraska Corn Growers Association's leadership trip to Washington D.C. where we met with Nebraska's senators and representatives. We also met with different agriculture organizations, such as the Animal Agriculture Alliance and learned about what they do and also some of the issues they deal with on a daily basis. We also met with the National Corn Growers Association and learned about some of the policy issues they are dealing with and what they are doing to represent America's corn farmers on the "hill". Our group also met with the Renewable Fuels Association as well as the U.S. Grains Council, and even went to the Japanese Embassy and met with the First Secretary of Agriculture. I found all of these visits very interesting, and it amazed me at how many issues there are. Yet, I was also impressed at what these organizations are doing for agriculture, such as solving issues and opening up new markets here in the U.S. as well as overseas. After visiting with all the organizations, I felt like agriculture was being represented well, especially America's corn farmers thanks to the National Corn Growers Association.
Yet, even though we have some great people representing a great industry, it doesn't stop the politics of D.C. Unfortunately, some in D.C. (cough cough... Politicians) think they know what is best for America, and sometimes even think they know what is best for certain industries. A couple of the big topics for us was the farm bill and the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS). Unfortunately, congress has still failed to pass a farm bill that not only affects farmers and ranchers, but affects ALL of America. The farm bill provides the assurance that food, fuel, fiber, and feed will be produced as well as providing jobs for all sorts of Americans. However, our elected politicians don't seem to understand this and are instead worried about picking fights with the party across the isle. The second issue that is near and dear to agriculture is the Renewable Fuels Standard. Sometimes I don't think people realize how America has benefited from the Renewable Fuels Standard. It has created jobs in rural communities as well as paving the way for clean energy. It has also allowed ranchers and cattle feeders to purchase a different feed source that is the by-product of ethanol production. Unfortunately, some in D.C. don't understand this and want to repeal the RFS. If the RFS is repealed, it could have a major impact on rural America, and not in a good way. Fewer jobs will be created and more people will move away. So it is important that folks in D.C. realize how valuable the RFS is to America, especially rural America! A person told me a great saying that relates well to the RFS "Don't fix something that doesn't need fixed", which I don't think some in D.C. realize.
The Nebraska Corn Growers Association (NeCGA) leadership trip was a great experience and showed me how important it is for people involved in agriculture to get involved with grassroots organizations, such as the NeCGA. It also made me realize that D.C. definitely has a mind of its own at times and can lose touch of what is important, such as getting a farm bill passed and leaving the RFS alone. Yet, while D.C. can have a mind of its own, it is still a neat city and one that is definitely full of history!
A special thanks to the Nebraska Corn Growers Association for inviting me to participate and also to the Nebraska Corn Board and Farm Credit Services for sponsoring the trip!