Ag Politics - Chandler Heads to Washington, D.C.

Chandler,  Agrible intern and fellow woman in ag, has started contributing to modern prairie woman, sharing her experiences as a woman in the political side of agriculture. She currently attends the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and recently attended a trip to Washington, DC with her Agriculture Policy and Leadership class. Especially in the world of agriculture, it is important for growers (men and women alike) to be able to voice their concerns in order to make a difference, and it is people like Chandler who are working to hear those voices! Today Chandler gives us an inside look at what she learned on her trip and the inspiring people she met.

My name is Chandler Bruns, and I spent my spring break in Washington, DC with my University of Illinois Agriculture Policy and Leadership class. 

Although I am not majoring in agriculture policy, I have a passion for the United States government and it's functions. What drew me to the class was the word 'leadership' in the title; I am studying Agriculture Leadership Education, and I spend my class time working on professionalism, leadership theory, and communication. I saw the opportunity in this class to expand my horizons and become more knowledgeable about the leaders of our country, particularly in agriculture. They have the hardest job of all--finding ways to govern 318 million Americans is not easy. 

Let's begin my journey through America's capitol with my 20 fellow classmates. 

On Monday, we started on the metro, headed to our first meeting at the American Farm Bureau Federation. I am heavily involved with the Champaign Country Farm Bureau office in Illinois, so I was particularly intrigued about this visit. We discussed everything from current agricultural issues, to how our presenter (Dale Moore) got to his current position, to what the AFBF is working on.

Next, we were off to the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives for lunch, where we discussed the widely debated issue of GMO labeling. We moved on to the National Farmers Union, and then to CropLife Americato end the day, where we visited issues pertaining to herbicides, pesticides and insecticides. 

We spent the day on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, beginning at the Congressional Budget office, then to Congressman Rodney Davis' office, and later to the Senate Agriculture Committee. We also visited the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and wrapped up at Senator Richard Durbin's office. Tuesday was jam packed full of policy discussions and insight into how the government works; it was a front-row seat into the everyday life of a Capitol Hill employee. 

The rest of the days were spent at the USDAAmerican Farmland TrustMonsanto, and the US Trade Representative, where we took the opportunity to ask as many questions as we could to the country's leaders in ag policy. 

To conclude, I learned so much about the time it takes to create and pass legislation. Our founding fathers created a system of checks and balances so one branch does not become too powerful. In turn, this lengthens the process of productivity in each branch in Washington. Being on the inside looking out for a change, I had an opportunity to understand the disconnect Americans feel/have with our Capitol. Considering how long it takes to move new legislation through the system, it can sometimes feel as though nothing is getting accomplished, when in reality, there is a lot going on behind the scenes. 

Another key point made by the legislators in Congress was to call them! Call and voice your concerns. If you are having an issue on your farm, let them know so they have an opportunity to be a liaison of that information. They are in Washington, working for you and your state, and they need to be informed of issues they might not be aware of.