As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on Olmsted Locks and Dam, you might wonder … what else do a bunch of corn farmers do in Washington, DC?
It’s true. In some respects, thirty corn farmers might not really fit in Washington, DC. For one, we’re much more polite than a majority of folks in their own worlds walking to and from work, and we tend to take cabs more often than the metro. But, we don’t hit the streets of DC in our work boots like some of you might think!
We spend the first afternoon briefing on all our issues. Washington, DC is a town that changes VERY rapidly and often our issues are moving, changing, and taking on a life of their own so IL Corn staff and other experts have to bring the farmers up to speed on the progress.
The first full day and half of the second are spent working particular issues with government agencies, non-governmental organizations and other associations. As an example, one group of farmers will focus on trade, visiting a handful of key country’s embassies and discussing how we can better supply our customers with the products they want.
The rest of our time is spent visiting Congressional offices. Every Illinois Congressman gets a request from us, whether they are a rural legislator that already mostly “gets” our issues or an urban legislator who’s never seen the farm. During this visit, we will talk with each and every Congressman (along with Senator Durbin and Senator Kirk) about preserving the Renewable Fuels Standard, negotiating a Farm Bill that keeps our top priorities in mind, and addressing the need for upgraded locks and dams.
By the time we head home, all of us are exhausted but exhilarated at the process that *is* our federal government. Heading to Washington, DC is certainly a challenge, but for our farmer leaders, they understand that the challenge is one they must take in order to keep family farming alive for the generations that follow.