At the end of September, AgriPOWER Class XII, most county presidents and Young Ag Professionals (YAP) from around the state of Ohio descended on our nation’s capital to discuss the most pertinent issues facing agriculture right now. We heard from or met with nearly all of our states elected officials through in person or virtual meetings to share our stories about each of the issues and help them understand just what each might mean for the future of our farms and agribusinesses.
Although we had very informative briefings from American Farm Bureau, USDA and the Senate Ag Committee employees and members some of the most meaningful and memorable information about the topics came from the other Ohioans on the trip with me. Each day, I met with new Ohio Farm Bureau members who each, through their own experiences, were experts on a topic that is challenging our industry as we know it. I sat with a YAP member who is a wealth of knowledge on broadband infrastructure in rural areas and what is, or isn’t, being done with the stimulus money ear marked for rural broadband. County presidents who shared their past experiences on the trip and within their counties helped me gain valuable insight into how diverse Ohio Farm Bureau truly is.
Many of the presenters from our briefings shared that we as a group could not have come at a better time. Washington D.C. is just starting to open up again since the beginning of the pandemic and in many cases, we were the first in person group they have seen. On top of being the first people they’ve seen; we were in D.C. at a crucial time for Congress and many pieces of legislation they are working to pass. It was no secret that much of the work being done on Capitol Hill right now is full of tension and each side of aisle or lobbying group feels that they are doing what is best for the country and their constituents. Isn’t it amazing that our Founding Fathers designed our government so that we would have to have these in depth, hard conversations – going back and forth what seems like endlessly – about where our country is going? I find it amazing.
A highlight of the trip outside of our congressional meetings was the rich history Washington D.C. has to offer. A nighttime tour of the National Mall and monuments as well as our stop at Arlington National Cemetery were moving and inspiring. All of this while getting to know my peers within Ohio agriculture made this trip one I’m not likely to forget anytime soon.