Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mr. Smith (Book) Returns from Washington

Somehow I accomplished it ... my first plane ride ... the D.C. Metro by myself ... hailing a cab ... wandering the halls of the U.S. Congressional offices ... and roaming the streets of the nations capital. And as you can see from the picture on the right I have proof that I was actually there (picture lifted from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition blog ... check it out). Before I say anything else let me just say that I really enjoyed myself. The planes, trains, and cabs were no big deal and even though I was nervous and spoke without thinking once or twice I loved the experience and would jump at again if given the chance. As some of you may know I'm a talker ... so I was really in my element with the meetings where I was able to talk about my passions and the issues that face a beginning farmer. I'm not sure if I made a lasting difference, but I was able to speak my mind and that is all part of the process.

I hope to share more in the coming days (or weeks considering my recent blog activity), but thought I would just give a brief overview this morning. As I mentioned just a moment ago my "fly-in" was sponsored/put together in part by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), the Land Stewardship Project (LSP), and the Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) ... acronyms are big in the District of Columbia (DC). But, the trip included beginning farmers from all over the country representing different areas, types of farming, and other organizations. There were farmers from New York, Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, Colorado, California, and even more states. What was really exciting about the group was to see that even though people were coming from different types of farms (CSA's to cattle ranches to dairies to transplant farms) they came together on many of the issues that effect beginning farmers.

Over time I will share some of the neat things I learned about and spoke about, but the biggest thing that all of the beginning farmers (and myself) talked about and wanted was a more level playing field. One congressman I talked to said that everyone wants "a level playing field as long as it is tipped slightly in their favor". I had to disagree with him because I felt (and believe the others felt the same way) that level would be okay, but more than anything as a beginning farmer I'd just like to have the chance to get on the scale with the bigger agricultural industry. I'm not saying my way is the only way, but rather don't exclude my way or shut me out because it's not your way ... if that's what happens then I think you would be missing out on a lot of great young farmers!

More to come later ...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your first DC Metro ride? Did you get lost in the Metro Center station? The first time the wife and I were there, we had a heck of a time figuring out how to get from one train to another. Although that was our first train and/or subway ride ever.

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