That’s a wrap!
Spring in-district season is coming to a close. Farmers and ranchers are back to their operations, many ramping up quickly now into summer chaos, and members of Congress are back in D.C. with their own extensive workloads to get through.
Over the last month, 16 chapters across the country and two groups of non-chapter affiliated farmers hosted virtual and in-person meetings with their members of Congress to get to know each other, build relationships with legislators, and introduce the new Young Farmers Federal Policy Pillars.
Thank you to all of the farmers and chapter leaders who met with their elected officials this spring to advocate for a more equitable future for agriculture!
Presidents of three Georgia Chapters, Atlanta Young Farmers Coalition, Middle Georgia Young Farmers Coalition, and Southern Georgia Young Farmers Coalition met with Senator Warnock’s staff to welcome him to Congress, introduce themselves as the voices of the next generation of Georgia agriculture, and discuss the various needs and interests of chapters across the state.
Members of the Duluth chapter met with Senator Klobuchar of Minnesota to discuss land access, climate action, and critical infrastructure around housing, healthcare, debt and regional food aggregation and meat processing centers. They also spoke to the Senator about critical Farm Bill programs that support Minnesota young farmers.
Kansas City Farmers meet with Rep. Sharice Davids:
The Vermont Young Farmers Coalition met with Senator Patrick Leahy and his staff to catch up, maintain a long relationship between the chapter and the office and push for how to include racial equity for Black, Indigenous, and other farmers of color in land access work.
Members of the Washington Young Farmers Coalition met with Congresswoman Kim Schrier:
“We had a fantastic hour with three farmers in Rep Schrier’s district and a couple of other folks doing regional ag work… We covered a broad swath of issues around ensuring equitable access to USDA programs for socially disadvantaged farmers, spoke about food access and the successes & challenges of participating in coronavirus relief programs, and also about immigration policy. I was really proud and grateful for the group who participated, and very much value Rep. Schrier’s engagement and own priorities.” –Brian Estes, WAYFC
Members of the Wisconsin areas of the Driftless Young Farmers Coalition chapter met with Senator Tammy Baldwin (left) and her staff to discuss affordable land access, housing and healthcare in the farm community, and support for LGBTQIA+ challenges within the worlds of agriculture.
Leaders of the Central Illinois Young Farmers Coalition met with Senator Durbin’s staff to keep up conversations started during in-districts last August about the effects of climate change on their farms, the importance of land access and access to federal programs for chapter members as well as how student loan relief would support them.The new Loess Plains Young Farmers Coalition chapter of eastern Nebraska met with Congressman Jeff Fortenberry to talk about urban land access in the city of Omaha, local food systems and support for farm-to-school programs.
Members from three New Mexico chapters, El Valle Del Norte Young Farmers, Rio Grande Young Farmers and Northern New Mexico Young Farmers hosted two meetings, one with each of their Senators, Senator Heinrich and Senator Luján introduce the Coalition’s federal policy platform, dive deep into climate change and access to federal programs and advocate for protections for farmworkers.
Congressman Glenn “G.T.” Thompson met with a collection of farmers in Western Pennsylvania
Several New York chapters got together to meet with Congressman Antonio Delgado:
The Hoosier Young Farmers Coalition leaders Stephanie Henry, Anne Massie, Liz and Nate Brownlee met with Indiana Senator Mike Braun and his staff this spring to introduce themselves and all five of the Coalition’s Federal Policy Pillars as well as how and why racial equity weaves into the solutions for each.
What are in-districts?
Congress goes on recess a few times a year, during which they go home and work with their constituents “in the district.” This happens for a few weeks in March or April in the spring, for the month of August in the summer, and again for a short fall recess in October.
For members of Congress, in-districts are a great opportunity to connect with the folks they represent, and for farmers and ranchers, these meetings are a chance to connect with the halls of D.C. without having to travel.
Just like farmers, members of Congress have a lot on their plates. Working on issues across many sectors, they need experts with deep knowledge from lived experience to check in with as policy opportunities come up. That’s where you all come in!
In a non-pandemic year, we’d be inviting our Senators and Representatives out to farms across the country to see first hand the work that young farmers and ranchers are doing for their communities and the environment. But even virtually from living rooms, in-district meetings are powerful storytelling opportunities for farmers to be heard directly in D.C.
A meeting with a legislator is a great chance to ask for support on specific bills that are moving forward in the capital. But these meetings can also serve as an introduction to your legislator and an opportunity to build a slower longterm relationship for future collaboration. Sometimes in-districts kick off the start to long lasting collaborative relationships with your legislators so that you are a resource to them as relevant policy comes up, and can act as a voice for young farmers and ranchers in your area to be consistently included in conversations happening on the Hill.
This year, farmers in our chapters and at-large network spoke with members on the Agriculture Committees of the House and Senate about issues from land access, climate mitigation, and access to USDA programs. We spoke to members of the Education committees about how student loan debt relief would support farmers and ranchers, to members of the Small Business committee in the House about the contributions of urban agriculture to local economies, and to members of the Labor committees about immigration and labor issues.
And in all of those, we worked to build collaborative relationships in Congress to more effectively work together at the federal level to create a just, equitable, and sustainable farming future through advocacy and policy change.
Interested in hosting an in-district meeting of your own? There’s another recess coming up this summer. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started!