The last week of March was a busy one for 91 Missouri Farm Bureau members and staff. The group was in Washington, D.C., for Farm Bureau’s annual legislative trip.
With a farm bill passed, farmers had many questions about how the new law will be implemented and when. Staff from the American Farm Bureau Federation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s own deputy secretary of agriculture in charge off implementation, Krysta Harden, answered questions. Actions on the Waterways Development Act, GMO labeling and new Clean Water Act rule proposals were all open for discussion.
The group also voiced their concerns about an over-reaching administration. Wall Street columnist Kim Strassel and the first chief of staff for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), attorney Gary Baise, echoed their worries. Strassel said the administration is making broad changes in a number of regulatory areas, from immigration law to health care, without congressional approval.
Baise said the agency he helped create 40 years ago has lost its way. “EPA had a real purpose when it was created. It is a perfect example of an agency given unlimited power,” Baise said. He added that a proposed rule for the Clean Water Act, announced by the EPA when the group was in Washington, is a land grab for private property control unlike anything seen in this country before.
The EPA has also announced a broad, new initiative to control the emission of greenhouse gases, as called for in the president’s climate action plan EPA’s initiative will hurt rural electric cooperatives that depend on coal-powered electric plants, said head of the National Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives and Missourian Jo Ann Emerson.
After a series of briefings, the group visited Capitol Hill to meet with U.S. Representatives Emanuel Cleaver, Sam Graves, Vicky Hartzler, Billy Long, Blaine Luetkemeyer, Jason Smith and Ann Wagner, as well as U.S. Senator Roy Blunt. Graves and Wagner invited House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan to speak to the group.
Ryan, a former vice presidential nominee, spoke of the budget challenges the country faces, saying present tax rates for all taxpayers would have to double in order to keep up with government growth.
The group of farmers included college students and even a 95-year-old retired farmer. The mix of farm and ranch backgrounds was welcomed by legislators. Visiting with U.S. Representative Sam Graves were Bruce and Martha Fowler.