This week Illinois FFA had an amazing opportunity sponsored by the Illinois Corn Growers. I along with my four major state officers and 17 Section Presidents journeyed to our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., to participate in National Corn Congress. We came out here to advocate for the agriculture industry, as well as, educate ourselves on the current “hot button” issues and meet with legislators to explain what agriculture and more specifically corn means to us.
In order to accurately convey our message to our legislators we first began by educating ourselves at the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Crop Life America.
Beginning at the AFBF was very helpful to us for obtaining information on a couple of the issues plaguing production agriculture. One of the biggest is the Clean Water Act. The biggest issue with this act is that there is no clear definition of navigable waters this makes it more difficult for farmers to follow guidelines. At the USDA, we had a fantastic lunch and met with an individual who told us more about their agency, its role with producers, as well as, how we can get involved. At the EPA we learned about pressing environmental concerns and discussed their efforts in connecting with farmers and their role in ensuring our voice and apprehensions are heard. Crop Life America really summed up the day for us and gave us some very helpful advocacy tips and a lot of really cool, free stuff! With all of this knowledge in hand it was time to go to the Hill!
Unfortunately with both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions either coming up or occurring this week the legislators had left town. Fortunately, the staff members out here are top-notch. Personally, we met with our home congressmen’s, Cheri Bustos and John Shimkus, staffers, as well as, Illinois senators, Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk. We found these staffers to be incredibly supportive of our efforts. For the most part these staffers were very in tuned to our concerns and were very supportive of Illinois agriculture.
It was a great trip for the Illinois FFA, full of memories and incredibly educational. Thank you to the Illinois Corn Growers for sponsoring this trip, giving us the opportunity to work with our federal legislature and for connecting us with information that will serve us greatly in our year of service!
In Blue and Gold,
J.C. Campbell and Paxton Morse
Illinois Association FFA