ARLINGTON, Virginia—Montana Farm Bureau Federation members participated in American Farm Bureau’s Issues Advisory Committee meetings held last week in Arlington, Virginia. The committees provide an avenue for Farm Bureau’s grassroots leaders to contribute their expertise on specific issues to the organization’s policy deliberations. Committee members meet in person once per year and hold additional meetings via webinar or conference calls throughout the program year as needed to discuss new developments on their assigned issues. 

MFBF members serving on four of the 12 committees included: Tom DePuydt – Federal Lands; Jillien Streit – Farm Policy; Mike Murphy – Water; and Wes Jensen - Market Structures. MFBF Senior Governmental Affairs Director Nicole Rolf attended the meetings and organized visits with the Montana Congressional offices.

Chester pulse crop farmer Streit praised the American Farm Bureau staff for their knowledge. “They are well-versed on all of the issues. I applaud them for doing a great job bringing a diverse group of farmers together from across the country to surface ideas and discuss how we can have a collaborative effort that covers all commodities.”

Streit, who attended her meeting virtually, said the Farm Policy Committee primarily discussed the 2023 Farm Bill. “Our group believes strongly in continuing support for crop insurance since that safety net is vital for producers,” said Streit. “We all had insights regarding input costs and inflation. We have to figure out a way to have those rising costs built into the programs for there to be an adequate safety net.”

“We talked about climate, including ‘climate-smart agriculture.’ We agreed that as agricultural producers we need to embrace the strength we bring to the climate conversation. We’re working with some of the USDA programs and we have a great story to tell. Our greatest weakness is we have been so busy growing food we haven’t taken sufficient time to tell our conservation story,” Streit said.

The Market Structures meeting featured speakers from National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Department of Agriculture. The committee discussed legislation regarding cattle markets and issues on the transportation of goods. 

“We agreed a bill needs to be developed to solve the problem of empty containers returning to Asia after unloading their contents in U.S. ports,” said Circle cattle rancher Jensen, who attended the meetings in person. “We covered the usual concerns about trucking regulations that impact our market, such as ensuring Hours of Service have more logic and addressing concerns about the rocketing fertilizer prices.”

Rolf noted, “The Issues Advisory Committees are an excellent venue for other Farm Bureau members nationwide to surface concerns, develop recommendations for state Farm Bureau policy development, and provide policy recommendations to the AFBF Resolutions Committee. We are pleased to have four of our members serve on these committees. Being in the Washington, D.C. area allowed us to meet with our Congressional delegation to address concerns on agricultural issues our members may have.”

Rolf and Jensen met with Senator Steve Daines and Senator Jon Tester, as well as with Congressional staff in Representative Rosendale’s office. Topics included efficiently getting commodities to international customers through U.S. ports, the challenging timing of emergency haying on Conservation Reserve Program land and cattle market transparency. In addition, they discussed the need to keep the Lower Snake River dams in place, the importance of the Columbia River system for exporting ag commodities, and concerns about the Endangered Species Act and the Waters of the U.S. rule.