Advocating for agriculture is important, especially when it comes to sharing the industry’s message with elected officials and federal agencies. That is why more than 140 Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation members and staff recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with those who make decisions affecting farmers each day.

Every other year, members have the opportunity to attend the Washington, D.C. Fly-In. MFBF hosts the trip to give members an avenue to educate elected officials on their lives as farmers, according to MFBF President Mike McCormick.

“Our elected leadership needs to know what our grassroots members’ lives are like, what their issues are and what they can do to help us,” McCormick said. “The policies they develop and implement here in Washington are based off of what our membership is telling them they need.”

U.S. Congressman Benny Thompson agreed with McCormick, emphasizing the importance of meeting with constituents.

“It’s absolutely important for me to hear what their concerns are,” Thompson said. “It’s important for me to make sure that as I look at legislation in Washington that it’s consistent with what they want in my district. It is always nice to see people from home and it is always nice to hear what those concerns are.”

Throughout the trip, members divided into various groups in an effort to make the biggest impact possible. In all, they attended more than 30 meetings with various legislators, including Mississippi’s entire delegation, agency officials and embassies.
Some of the biggest issues members focused on during their meetings were trade, labor, water regulations and Mississippi River flooding issues.

We heard about some positive things happening which was great for our farmers looking for a ray of sunshine amongst all of the clouds we’ve seen this year,” McCormick said.

Washington County soybean and corn farmer J.C. Clements feels a little better about the trade issues after learning more about how the agreements are developed and implemented during the trip.

“When it comes to trade, they’re hoping something will happen soon, especially with China,” Clements said. “I’m very interested in that stuff, and I feel better about it after sitting and listening to everybody.”

Sharkey County farmers Josh and Melanie Miller made the trip to meet with officials about the Mississippi River flooding issues.

“We didn’t plant a seed this year, so flooding was the top issue for us,” Josh said. “We met with Congressman Thompson for about 45 minutes. We got some of the answers we wanted.”

Most members agreed the trip to Washington, D.C. is one of the most important efforts MFBF conducts.

“It’s a pretty important thing to do since so much policy comes out of Washington, and our elected officials seem to want to hear from us so that they get the policy right,” MFBF Board of Director Jim Currie said. “We’re here to give them whatever input we can. It’s a great privilege. This is my first time to attend a Washington, D.C. Fly-In and it’s been really super.”