Local farmer journeys to Washington, D.C.
Alto Pass farmer and Union County Farm Bureau member Wayne Sirles was one of 30 Illinois farmers who traveled to Washington, D.C., earlier this month to lobby for Illinois Farm Bureau, IFB, priorities.
Led by Adam Nielsen, IFB’s director of national legislation and policy development, the group’s fast-paced trip began on Monday, March 6, and ended Wednesday, March 8.
This was the first trip during the 115th Congress for Illinois Farm Bureau members.
During the trip, members had the opportunity to let their elected officials know where they stand on IFB priority issues, such as tax reform and regulatory reform, and to remind them just how important trade agreements like NAFTA are to farmers’ bottom line.
Sirles, a specialty crops farmer in Union County, traveled to Washington, D.C., with a message for elected officials about the importance of the guest worker program to Illinois fruit and vegetable growers. His family owns and operates Rendleman Orchards near Alto Pass.
After being briefed on the issues by IFB and American Farm Bureau Federation staff, participants spent a day on Capitol Hill, meeting with members of Illinois’ congressional delegation, as well as the state’s two U.S. senators.
The group also met with the U.S. House of Representatives Agricultural Committee staff about an update on the Farm Bill, both the current bill and plans for 2018.
Illinois farmers emphasized the importance of crop insurance as well as not reducing the budget for the 2018 Farm Bill.
“The trip was a great experience for everyone to become comfortable with advocating for important priority issues and helped to build or renew relationships with members of Congress,” Sirles said in a news release.
While in Washington, D.C., Illinois farmers also visited the embassies of Ireland and Canada.
Ireland belongs to the European Union. Canada is part of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The group also met with officials from USDA.
The “Leaders to Washington” program happens twice a year, in the spring and again in the fall.