Kansans talk farm bill in Washington

By Zack Pistora, Center for Rural Affairs farm policy consultant

Since June, I have had the honor of helping the Center for Rural Affairs educate and interact with members of Congress and farmers from Kansas on the 2018 farm bill. Most of my work has consisted of phone calls and visits in and around Kansas. But, recently, I had the chance to head to the heart of the farm bill policy discussion, Washington, D.C., to visit with the Kansas delegation on Capitol Hill.

I tagged along with seven other Kansans, joining roughly 350 farmers from around the country who came to D.C. as part of the National Farmers Union Fly-In. Together, we offered our support for a bipartisan farm bill that would help our independent, family farmers and support important conservation programs.

As my team of Kansas farmers made our way into our state congressional offices, I brought forth the top farm bill priorities at the Center for Rural Affairs, which included support for voluntary conservation programs, like the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), programs that help both sustainable and local food systems and beginning and disadvantaged farmers, and reforming farm payments so that real farmers get assistance they need, not the rich corporate farmers or non-farmer Wall Street investors.

I was fortunate to meet three of the six members of our Kansas congressional delegation, and enjoyed meeting many of the lead staff on agriculture policy. I met with Rep. Roger Marshall of the first district of Kansas. Dr. Marshall, who serves on the House Agriculture Committee, and now on the farm bill conference committee, talked with our group for 30 minutes. As myself and the Kansas team expressed our views on the farm bill, Rep. Marshall agreed with us on the significance of voluntary conservation programs like CSP, which is utilized by almost 500 Kansas farmers encompassing over one million acres. Dr. Marshall also heard our plea to uphold many of the local foods programs that have been helping our farmers gain technical assistance and funding mechanisms to distribute their products.

Being in Washington, D.C., really helped me connect with the policy staffers who work behind the scenes for our Kansas delegation on the farm bill. It was good to hear members of Congress recognize how important the farm bill is, and all vowed to finish the farm bill as quickly as possible to help guarantee certainty and stability to our farmers and rural America economy.  However, farmers know that actions speak louder than words, and until the farm bill is passed and critical programs are fully funded and implemented, myself and farmers everywhere won’t back down on pressing Congress to pass an effective and satisfactory farm bill.

 

In a plenary session, farmers heard from Iowa Senator, Chuck Grassley (pictured above), and a handful of other legislators who expressed dedication to getting a good farm bill done.

 

Our Kansas team of farmers waits in the office of Sen. Jerry Moran (KS).

Our Kansas Farm Team poses with Congressman Roger Marshall (KS-1).