WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In-person communication provides an excellent way for farmers and ranchers to address their concerns with government officials. During the Montana Farm Bureau Fly-in June 7-10 in Washington, D.C., Montana Farm Bureau members had excellent opportunities to meet with lawmakers, committee staff and American Farm Bureau staff. The Fly-In participants—Sky Anderson and Monica Switzer from Livingston and Scott Stoner from Helena—were selected to attend based on their prior advocacy efforts in Montana. Participants were accompanied by MFBF Senior Director of Governmental Affairs Nicole Rolf.

The action-packed schedule included meetings with Senator Jon Tester, Senator Steve Daines, Representative Matt Rosendale, staff from two House and Senate committees, and external affairs staff from the White House. In addition, the group met with the American Farm Bureau’s public policy directors and economists at the organization’s headquarters overlooking the Capitol.

“It’s impressive to learn that the American Farm Bureau is the number-one agricultural lobbying group on Capitol Hill. They are well-informed and respected,” said Anderson, adding that the public policy staff comes from all over the country with most having backgrounds in agriculture. “In our meeting with their economists, we learned these inflationary times are caused by the large increase in the money supply that has been pumped into the economy by the Federal Reserve in the past year and a half. It’s going to take a while for that to change, which means we will be struggling with inflation for the next couple of years.”

The group had productive meetings with the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee staff and with the House Natural Resources Committee staff. 

“We discussed problems with the Endangered Species Act and what is going to happen with Wilderness Study Areas,” said MFBF District 9 Director Scott Stoner. “We explained that there are currently too many grizzly bears coming onto the plains and into our schoolyards, farmyards and backyards. Montanans need resources to be able to responsibly manage these bears. In addition, we talked about the problems with going back to the 2015 Waters of the U.S Rule and how it would negatively affect agriculture.”

For visits with Montana’s Congressional Delegation, the Fly-In members were joined by MFB Women’s Leadership Committee (WLC) members, WLC Chair Carla Lawrence and WLC District 10 Director Heidi Brewer, who were in town for the national WLC Advocate, Cultivate and Empower Summit. 

“With our delegation, we covered a wide range of issues including the RANCH Act which improves management of federal lands grazing and supports rural communities, cattle markets, concerns about eliminating certain crop protectants, and the upcoming farm bill,” said Stoner. 

Anderson added other topics addressed were the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposal to require publicly traded companies to provide climate-related information from their entire supply chain including potentially burdensome, invasive information about farms. They discussed problems farmers and ranchers are having with illegal immigration on the southern border combined with the necessity to have a functional guest worker program.

In addition to the meeting, the group had the opportunity to tour the Capitol and enjoy a Washington, D.C. Moonlight Monument tour.

“It’s critical to have face-to-face visits with the committees and agencies in D.C. so they see the real people who are affected by their policies,” said Switzer. “It was wonderful to see how respected Nicole Rolf and the American Farm Bureau staff are in Washington. This was a great experience that gave us optimism for the future.”