The Illinois Corn Growers Association returned from Washington, DC late last night with a bucketful of stories, opinions, and tactics to make a difference in federal policy during the 113th session of Congress.
Overall, there was a lot of negativity on the hill. We heard from agency’s, associations, lobbyists, and others who all believe that to see any meaningful action on the hill would be a miracle. Conversely, a few Congressmen talked positively that work would get done and bills would be debated and passed because “something has to happen.”
Of course, we hope so.
We hope to see a five-year farm bill passed in 2013. Simply extending last year’s bill after it expired in Sept 2012 to cover this year doesn’t give farmers any sort of certainty about the business climate they must operate in for the coming years. Putting this off isn’t a good decision for anyone.
We hope to see a Water Resources Development Act passed in 2013 too. This week, we advocated for a WRDA bill that incorporated authorization of funds to upgrade locks and dams on the Mississippi River. Congress was marking up a WRDA bill also this week so we are encouraged by some action and hope that we can all work together to see a new lock upgrade start in 2014.
Finally, we want to preserve the Renewable Fuel Standard. We believe in the original intention of the RFS – to help our country become energy independent while improving the environment – and we want to see the standard maintained. Hopefully, with nothing happening on the Hill this year, threats to the RFS won’t have legislative legs to stand on.
All in all, it was a busy four days on Capitol Hill. Days filled with around 150 visits to Congressmen, agencies, associations, and corporations. Days filled with learning about trade, biotech, sustainability initiatives, crop insurance, farm bill, ethanol, livestock and more. Long days with sore backs and aching legs from carrying folders and papers and walking miles over hallowed ground.
All worth it, of course, for the good of the industry.
Celebrate Ag Week this week by sharing our blog on your facebook page or over twitter. Encourage people to gain information about farmers and their food supply. Call your Congressman about any of the above issues. Eat … and know that your food supply is safe and secure.