Farm Credit Goes to Washington to Advocate for Strong Farm Bill
Farm Credit is known for building meaningful relationships with our customer-owners; however, our continued success is dependent on more than just customer relations. Even many of our customer-owners are unaware that the Farm Credit System was established by Congress more than 100 years ago. For that reason, our relationships with lawmakers remain crucial. We continue to build those relationships with key members through frequent meetings and farm visits in which we share the Farm Credit story at the state and federal level. Our legislative advocacy represents just another channel in which Farm Credit of the Virginias' supports agriculture and our rural communities, beyond reliable financing and local expertise.
In November, our directors, customer-owners and staff joined more than 800 Farm Credit representatives from across the country in Washington, D.C., to partake in the Farm Credit Fly-in and Marketplace Reception, which takes place every other year. Our efforts to share our customer-owners’ stories and the Farm Credit mission with legislators are always important, but especially so during a “Farm Bill year" like this one. As the House and Senate were voting to extend the Farm Bill by one year and continue their work to develop long-term Farm Bill legislation, it was critical to share the needs of our farmers and garner support from Capitol Hill.
The 2023 Farm Credit Fly-in kicked off with opening remarks and updates on the Farm Bill's latest developments from Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow and Ranking Member John Boozman and House Agriculture Committee Chairman G.T. Thompson. The debrief took place just as Congress was preparing to vote on a one-year extension of the Farm Bill. We heard from each about hot button agricultural issues and the likely scenario of passing a 5-year Farm Bill in 2024.
Over the course of two days, our team members and directors conducted visits on Capitol Hill with our Congressional delegation and their staff, including the offices of Senator Capito (WV), Senator Manchin (WV), Senator Warner (VA), Senator Kaine (VA), Rep. Cline (VA), Rep. Good (VA), Rep. Griffith (VA), Rep. Miller (WV), Rep. Mooney (WV), Rep. Spanberger (VA) and Rep. Wexton (VA). We also visited members from suburban/urban districts, including Rep. Beyer (VA) and Rep. Connolly (VA). In each meeting, we discussed the importance of a strong Farm Bill for agriculture and rural America, highlighted Farm Credit’s contribution to our rural communities and of course, gave our customer-owners the opportunity to share their personal Farm Credit story, truly bringing our mission to life.
To close out a busy few days of visits with policymakers, we reconvened for the heavily-anticipated Farm Credit Marketplace Reception event in which we invited lawmakers to engage with our team and peruse products to take home which were provided by our customer-owners. The event, which took place at the outdoor District Pier on the Wharf, drew a record crowd.
Our customer-produced offerings ranged from fresh fruits and vegetables, hot cider, pumpkins, mums and more. We used these products to create teachable moments for our guests from Capitol Hill, in addition to providing “AgBite” resources and recipes developed by our own Knowledge Center for the produce we featured! Farm Credit of the Virginias featured the following customer-owners and their products at the reception:
- Harmony Harvest Farms (Augusta County, VA)
- Middle River Pumpkin Patch (Augusta County, VA)
- Reese’s Farm Fresh Produce & Market (Halifax County, VA)
- Spring Valley Farm & Orchard (Hampshire County, WV)
We know our collective work to advocate for agriculture and a strong Farm Bill is far from complete, but we left D.C. knowing that we successfully advocated for our farmers and rural communities, and garnered continued support for Farm Credit on Capitol Hill. If you’d like to help share our message with elected officials, join our grassroots advocacy team! Just visit farmcredit.com/takeaction and sign up for our action alert system. You’ll get a message when we need you to contact your elected officials, and will be provided with an easy resource to do so. Join us to “Stand Up for Agriculture!” today!
This feature story was published in the December 2023 Leader Magazine. Access the full magazine (digital version) HERE.