More than 100 Alabama Farmers Federation members traveled to the nation’s capital for the Washington Legislative Conference on May 19-22.
Alabama farmers stayed busy over the four-day conference, speaking with federal officials and congressmen about agricultural issues such Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS), the farm bill and feral swine management.
“I talked with Rep. Bradley Byrne about the World Trade Organization ruling on COOL that came out Monday and how that can directly impact the price we get for our beef products,” said Anthony Faggard, a Mobile County beef cattle farmer. “We’re fortunate we have a representative who shares a lot of our views, and we thanked him for his support.”
U.S. Congressman Gary Palmer, representing Alabama’s 6th Congressional district, welcomed Alabama farmers to Washington, D.C. at the event’s opening breakfast May 20. Palmer complimented his colleagues on Capitol Hill and said he felt there was no problem they couldn’t solve, as long as Congress develops a vision.
“I hope that after 10 years (in the U.S. House of Representatives) that someone could walk up to me and say, ‘Palmer, you were part of the best Congress this country has ever had,’” he said.
On May 21, attendees met with their U.S. representatives during breakfast and heard from U.S. Sens. Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions during a luncheon at the Dirksen Senate building.
“The federation consistently stands for values that I think make the state (of Alabama) great and for values that we all share,” Sessions said.
Sessions discussed agricultural issues, focusing on trade policy and problems with the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed WOTUS rule.
Shelby said he recently finished visiting Alabama’s 67 counties because he wants to make sure he is accessible and accountable to his constituents.
The conference also included briefings from staff of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Cotton Council and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The event concluded with a visit to the Australian Embassy.
Cullman County Farmers Federation President Steve Lake is a first time participant at this conference.
“I was tremendously interested in coming to meet the folks who make the rules and put together policies that support farming,” Lake said. “This has been a real eye-opener. Running our government is a complex undertaking. I’ve learned more about what is involved to make agriculture work on a global scale.”