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300 Farmers Union members from across the country joined together in Washington, DC this past week to advocate for family farmers and a strong Farm Bill as part of the National Farmers Union (NFU) Fall Legislative Fly-In. Over the course of the week, Farmers Union members attended hundreds of Congressional meetings and met with fifteen federal agencies.
15 Wisconsin Farmers Union members were among those taking part in the NFU Fly-In. Participants visited the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where they heard from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack, Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small, USDA Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Robert Bonnie and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Michael Kades among a variety of panels featuring speakers from USDA’s Marketing and Regulatory Programs mission areas.
“At a time when the details of the farm bill are still in flux, the Fly-In is especially important,” said WFU President Darin Von Ruden. “This is a key opportunity for lawmakers to put a face to the issues impacting rural America and help them understand the importance of passing a strong farm bill with the right programs in place.”
The Farm Bill is a comprehensive piece of legislation that addresses various aspects of agriculture and food policy, including farm subsidies, nutrition programs, conservation efforts, and rural development. Updated every five years, the current iteration is set to expire on September 30th, with discussions regarding its extension already underway in Congress.
Farmers Union members brought into sharp focus the imperative of the Fairness for Farmers legislation within the 2023 Farm Bill. Central to their advocacy is a competition title, designed to ensure that family farmers, ranchers, and rural communities have access to fair, open, and competitive markets. Additionally, they championed a robust farm safety net, a comprehensive nutrition title, and forward-thinking climate change policies that offer support to family farmers and ranchers.
"It's so important to build relationships with our legislators and fellow farmers,” said WFU Policy Coordinator Michelle Ramirez-White. “When we can educate around what's happening at home in Wisconsin, working on problems facing rural America and getting programs that are working extended becomes a reachable goal."
WFU President Darin Von Ruden, Westby, was joined by board, staff and members at the fly-in, including: Selina Briske, Amery; Linda Ceylor, Catawba; Joseph Childs, Boscobel; Patty Edelburg, Amherst; Tommy Enright, Amherst; Duane Hinchley, Cambridge; Tina Hinchley, Cambridge; Kendall Johnson, Madison; Joshua Mechaelson, Waukesha; David Michelson, DeForest; Michelle Ramirez-White, Madison; Dave Rosen, Glenwood City; Ruby Sheaffer, Monroe; and Michael Slattery, Maribel.