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Iowa Farmers Union members meet with lawmakers, USDA officials

WASHINGTON – Iowa Farmers Union members joined nearly 400 farmers, ranchers and fishermen from across the country in Washington, D.C., Sept. 9 to 11 for the National Farmers Union Fall Legislative Fly-In. The annual event allows Farmers Union members to meet directly with lawmakers, USDA leaders and other administration officials to discuss issues important to family farmers and ranchers.

“As a farmer-led organization, grassroots advocacy and education build the core of Iowa Farmers Union,” said IFU President Aaron Heley Lehman. “The annual NFU Fly-In is a great opportunity for our members to share stories personal to them with both the Iowa and national delegation of lawmakers. Our members are able to give lawmakers a firsthand look at the impacts of their policy and see the challenges impacting real people living in rural areas. Given the many hurdles facing the agricultural sector, it is our job to bring a reality check for lawmakers to Washington D.C. Ultimately, we hope that our personal interactions with lawmakers will encourage them to prioritize policies supporting familyfarmers and ranchers and rural communities.”

Iowa members met with lawmakers to advocate for legislative priorities that will affect their operations and communities, including strengthening the farm safety net, supporting climate smart practices and biofuels, restoring competition to the agricultural economy, and improving the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement and resolving ongoing trade disputes.

Before their meetings, NFU Fly-In participants attended a briefing at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. National Institute of Food and Agriculture Food Safety National Program Leader Dr. Jodi Williams, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Gregory Ibach, USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Affairs Ted McKinney, USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Deputy Administrator Bill Beam, and USDA Risk Management Agency Chief of Staff Keith Gray addressed the group.

Additionally, a number of industry experts and agricultural policy specialists spoke to attendees about the farm economy, corporate consolidation, international trade, and biofuels.

“In early September, most farmers are busy harvesting, planting winter crops, and attending to livestock,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “The fact that nearly 400 are here this week to advocate better food and agricultural policy speaks volumes to how exceptionally challenging things are right now in farm country. And given the current circumstances, it is more important than ever that legislators are hearing directly from family farmers and ranchers about the issues they’re dealing with. We hope that long after fly-In attendees return to their farms, their elected representatives will use these conversations to write policies that bolster rural America and family farm agriculture.”

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