IFB president lobbies for farmers in D.C.

Upcoming farm bill dominates discussion with various officials.

Among his meetings, Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr., right, spoke with Sen. Tammy Duckworth, outlining IFB’s 2018 farm bill priorities, including the organization’s top priority, crop insurance. (Photo courtesy of Duckworth)
Among his meetings, Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr., right, spoke with Sen. Tammy Duckworth, outlining IFB’s 2018 farm bill priorities, including the organization’s top priority, crop insurance. (Photo courtesy of Duckworth)
By Deana Stroisch

With the farm economy front of mind, Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert Jr. met with the state’s senators on Capitol Hill this week to lobby for crop insurance, trade, tax reform and regulatory reform.

Guebert shared Illinois farmers’ concerns with U.S. Sens. Tammy Duckworth, D-Hoffman Estates, and Dick Durbin, D-Springfield.

“The farm economy has declined for the last three or four years, our working capital has deteriorated tremendously as well as the low commodity prices – whether it’s for wheat, corn or soybeans – and the challenges in the dairy, pork and beef industries,” Guebert told FarmWeek.

Also, while in Washington, D.C., Guebert joined state Farm Bureau presidents from across the country at American Farm Bureau Federation’s Council of Presidents and attended AFBF’s board meeting. Joining him in D.C.: Mark Gebhards, IFB’s executive director of governmental affairs, and Adam Nielsen, IFB’s director of national legislation.

Guebert said the upcoming farm bill dominated discussion throughout the nation’s capital.

He and eight other state Farm Bureau presidents had dinner with U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, which continues to hold farm bill listening sessions. Conaway hopes to bring a farm bill to the House floor late this year or early next year, Guebert said.

During visits with Duckworth and Durbin, Guebert outlined IFB’s 2018 farm bill priorities. President Donald Trump’s budget proposes deep cuts to crop insurance, IFB’s top farm bill priority.

“I continue to point out to them that in the drought of 2012, crop insurance did work for our producers and agriculture did not come back to Congress for an ad hoc disaster assistance program,” Guebert said. “It’s really important that we have that risk management in our toolbox.”

Duckworth previously expressed concerns about the impact Trump’s proposed budget would have on agriculture. After meeting with Guebert, Duckworth issued the following statement:

“The work of America’s farmers is fundamental to the strength of our state and our nation,” Duckworth said. “We should not be turning our backs on Illinois farmers or slashing investments that Americans living in rural communities rely on for public health, good-paying jobs, quality transportation and educational opportunities. I’ll keep working to ensure our farmers have access to the resources they need to support our nation’s food supply, fuel our cars and grow our economy.”

The Council of Presidents meeting included speeches by Scott Pruitt, Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue by phone.

Guebert said Pruitt discussed EPA’s proposed rule to repeal and rewrite the “waters of the U.S.” rule.

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