Three farmers talk farm bill in Washington D.C.

Three Midwest farmers recently met with their legislators in Washington D.C., to discuss conservation and beginning farmer policy in the next farm bill.

On March 7, farmers Mariel Barreras, Cameron Peirce, and Adam Ledvina joined Anna Johnson, of the Center for Rural Affairs, in a “farmer fly-in” with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

“I enjoyed the responsibility of sharing with our representatives the importance of conservation,” Peirce said. “The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and other conservation programs have helped us become more environmentally responsible through the use of no-till and cover crops.”

Peirce, along with his wife and two sons, raises wheat, soybeans, corn, and sunflowers in Reno County, Kansas. He talked about using cover crops with staff in the offices of Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Reps. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) and Roger Marshall (R-KS).

Ledvina, who raises goats near Toledo, Iowa, explained that conservation and working lands programs have played an important role in the growth and development of his farm. He visited with staff in the offices of Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Rep. David Young (R-IA).

Barreras visited with staff in the offices of Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), and Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Don Bacon (R-NE) about training and educational resources for veteran farmers.

She and her husband, Lt. Col. Anthony Barreras, currently on mission with the U.S. Army, raise livestock for direct retail and wholesale customers in the Omaha, Nebraska, area. Barreras said veteran farmer resources have been invaluable for them as they further develop their operation.

“The opportunity to farm and grow our family farm has come with many of the same traits needed to excel in the military service: initiative, creativity, organization, and a dedication to quality in every task completed,” she said. “Our growth and knowledge comes directly through the assistance of programs and initiatives like USDA programs and other programs built around fostering veteran and farmer networking.”

Congress has started work on the next farm bill as several representatives have introduced bills with proposals that they would like to see in the final bill. The current farm bill expires on Sept. 30, 2018.

If you are interested in talking with lawmakers or if you would like more information, contact Johnson at annaj@cfra.org.

Pictured, left to right: Cameron Peirce, Mariel Barreras, Anna Johnson, and Adam Ledvina.