GFB group visits D.C. seeking support for state's farmers
Posted on Mar 08, 2023 at 0:00 AM
By Jay Stone, Georgia Farm Bureau
A group of 25 Georgia Farm Bureau volunteer leaders
engaged with Georgia’s congressional delegation and advocated for agriculture during the GFB Presidents’ Trip to D.C., Feb. 28-March 2. Historically an annual trip, this was the first time since 2019 a GFB group made an organized advocacy trip to D.C. due to COVID-19.
The visit began with a Feb. 28 meeting hosted by American Farm Bureau (AFBF), where attendees heard updates from AFBF staff on issues and current legislation dealing with labor, environmental regulations, the farm bill, and livestock and poultry regulations.
AFBF Senior Director for Government Affairs Courtney Briggs gave an overview of the EPA's Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, emphasizing that the lack of clarity in the final rule published in February is central to farmers' problems with the rule, which is scheduled to take effect March 20.
“We’ve been ping-ponging back and forth on a (WOTUS) definition depending on the [presidential] administration,” Briggs said.
The ambiguity dates back to the original Clean Water Act passed in the early 1970s, Briggs said. Farm groups are hopeful that the upcoming Supreme Court decision on Sackett v. EPA, might provide some relief, and resolutions in both the House and Senate seek to halt the WOTUS rule under the Congressional Review Act.
AFBF is part of one lawsuit against the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to stop the rule, and a collection of 24 states, including Georgia, have filed a separate suit.
AFBF Managing Director for Government Affairs Ryan Yates shared an overview of topics being discussed concerning national agriculture policy. Yate highlighted AFBF’s agreement with John Deere granting farmers the latitude to perform certain repairs on their Deere equipment. Yates said that while there have been conversations about legislation to address the right-to-repair issue, the organization’s preference is to take a private-sector approach.
AFBF Senior Director for Government Affairs Andrew Walmsley discussed farm bill programs and the political landscape, noting that there are 260 members of Congress who were not in office when the 2018 farm bill was developed and passed.
Walmsley said the farm bill is expected to surpass $1 trillion for the first time, and that there is strong sentiment that the bill needs to be completed in 2023.
On March 1, GFB members attended meetings with eight Georgia members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Sen. Jon Ossoff to highlight the organization’s priorities during the 118th Congress.
GFB members presented the Friend of Farm Bureau Award for the 117th Congress, which convened 2021-2022, to Reps. Austin Scott, David Scott, Sanford Bishop, Rick Allen, Buddy Carter and Sen. Ossoff in appreciation for voting in alignment with Farm Bureau positions on bills important to agriculture. Other members of the 117th Congress from Georgia who received the award were former Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, and Reps. Drew Ferguson, Hank Johnson, Lucy McBath and Nikema Williams.