Virginia Farm Bureau goes to Washington

Published 8:40 pm Monday, July 17, 2023

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Six members of Virginia Farm Bureau Federation’s national affairs committee recently advocated for agriculture at the highest level in Washington, meeting directly with lawmakers to discuss priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill.

The group first convened with House Agriculture Committee leaders to hear their priorities and goals for the 2023 Farm Bill before heading to Capitol Hill. In discussions with representatives and staff, farmers talked about labor, water regulations and dairy issues as they relate to the farm bill.

Due to elections and retirements, nearly half of Congress—260 lawmakers—have never worked on a farm bill, making farmers’ personal stories of impact especially important. This presents both opportunities and challenges.

“It’s mind-boggling how many haven’t voted on a farm bill,” said VFBF Vice President Scott Sink. “It could get dragged down in the mud if we’re not careful. We wanted to meet with representatives to make sure they understand the nuances.”

The advocacy fly-in is just another tier of VFBF’s grassroots process that starts at the county level. Agricultural priorities and positions advance to the regional, state and national levels, finally coming to fruition in the farm bill.

Timely passage of a farm bill is crucial to maintaining a secure and sustainable domestic food supply, said VFBF national affairs coordinator Ben Rowe. “Having farmers come to Washington and sit down with their elected representatives to discuss the policies that directly impact their operations is one of the most effective ways our members can advocate for their industry.”