By Gary Brock
WASHINGTON D.C. — For Champaign County farmer Josh Yoder, the three-day trip to Washington D.C. last week was enlightening and informative.
Above all, he says, the trip gave him the chance to make his voice heard.
“I would say that everything about the trip was a highlight,” Yoder said at the end of the 71st Ohio Farm Bureau-sponsored Presidents’ Trip to Washington D.C. March 13-15. Yoder was one of 73 farmers from across the state who traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with their U.S. Congress member, both Ohio U.S. Senators, a host of agriculture and trade experts and perhaps the biggest highlight, a meeting with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
“To have Speaker Ryan meet and talk with us Wednesday morning; that was really impressive,” Yoder said.
The farmers and Farm Bureau representatives had met March 15, the final day of the trip, at the Capital Hill Club to hear comments from Sen. Rob Portman (Sen. Sherrod Brown had met with them the day before), and other speakers discuss agriculture trade issues in 7th District Rep. Bob Gibbs’ Farm Forum.
Speaker Ryan told the Ohio farmers that there are three issues on the agenda in Washington, and the first is the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act..
“Obamacare is a terrible law, and it is collapsing under its own weight; increase in costs, increase in premiums. We have a plan to repeal and replace,” he said. “This is unprecedented, and that is why there is such anxiety. The expansion of plans (under the proposed Care Act) will help farmers to get their own insurance from groups like the Farm Bureau.”
Ryan said the next item on the agenda is tax reform. he said Congress plans to reduce the tax rate and abolish the estate tax. “We want you to be able to pass on your farm, for your family to see their dreams of remaining on the farm.”
He said the third issue is passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. “We have a lot going on.”
He urged the farmers to be vocal. “Share your ideas, tell your stories and share your concerns.”
Yoder’s family farm in Champaign County is about 350 acres, where they grow corn, soybeans and wheat. “My wife (Chrissy) and I both have non-farm jobs, and she has a retail meat market, sells eggs with more than 100 layers. She does broiler meat, sells it at farmer’s markets along with two other women friends of hers who do beef and pork. They call themselves ‘Women Who Farm.’ It has turned into a great business,” he said.
Yoder, who is president of the Champaign County Farm Bureau, said another highlight was being able to meet with his elected representative, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-4th District). “He is from Champaign County, so that is a plus for me. We talked to him about our concern on tax reform, the death tax, capital gains, the Farm Bill and the importance of crop insurance. It’s nice that we can come here and tell him our concerns,” Yoder said.
“I really enjoyed the Bob Gibbs Farm Forum. I got to hear Paul Ryan and the discussion about health care. I was happy to see the representative from Mexico come to us to discuss trade and NAFTA. I was surprised a bit by the information about Mexico and trade. It was a very worthwhile trip. I was very pleased,” Yoder said.
Gary Brock is editor of Civitas Media’s monthly farming/agriculture publication Rural Life Today. He can be reached at 937-556-5759.