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Guest Blog Post from PFI Board President Mark Peterson
Melanie and I were just in Washington DC at the invitation of National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition for their spring farmer fly-in. While we were there we were able to have meetings with several Iowa members of congress. Our main objective was to meet with Rep. David Young, and we were able to meet first with him. David is our representative for this part of Iowa (we live and farm in Southwest Iowa near Stanton). He and his ag staffer Christie Downey were very receptive to our requests, which were:
- Request Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education funding be raised from roughly $25 mil to $30 million, which is half of its authorized level of $60 million.
- No limits on Conservation Stewardship Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and Regional Conservation Partnership Program funding.
- Ten million in funding for the Food Safety Outreach Program.
- Ten million in additional funding for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmer and Rancher Programs. This would restore that program to its previous level of $20 million.
After talking with David, I do believe he is on board with these funding requests and will support these requests.
Our next meeting was coffee with Joni Ernst and her ag staffer Devin Mogler, a farm boy from Lyons county. While she doesn’t hold any of the direct purse strings on these funds, I feel it is important to maintain contact with her so that we keep any influence that she has working for us. Once again she is supportive and will help as she can with these funds.
From there we went directly to a coffee co-sponsored by Young and Rep. Dave Loebsack. While at that coffee Dave Loebsack approached us mainly because of our Don’t Farm Naked shirts (there’s a story there!). He sat down with us at this coffee and gave us a good ten minutes to pitch our story to him and his ag staffer Mitch Adams. He was very supportive of our requests and also of PFI in general. I really appreciate that he took that much time at a public coffee to visit just with us.
I felt that our time was well spent, but as they say,”The proof is in the pudding.” I encourage you to watch and listen to what is going on out there. Always take the time to write, email, or call your legislator on issues important to you. It was apparent that they do want to hear from their constituents.