ALABAMA FARMERS TAKE CONCERNS TO WASHINGTON
MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- When a delegation of about 250 Alabama farmers makes its annual trek to Washington, D.C., next week, they'll be voicing concerns shared by colleagues across the nation.
In fact, the issues identified as "priorities" by the American Farm Bureau Federation will be on the minds of Alabama farmers when the Alabama Farmers Federation hosts its annual visit to the nation's capital March 13-16.
Chief among those concerns is the 2007 farm bill. On Jan. 31, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns unveiled the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2007 farm bill proposal, a plan that would reduce federal agriculture spending by $18 billion during the next five years as President George W. Bush seeks to balance the federal budget.
"The decisions that our lawmakers will be making in the coming months will have a profound effect on America's farmers and their ability to feed, clothe and shelter our nation," said Keith Gray, national affairs director for the Federation.
Fortunately, said Gray, three Alabama Republicans -- Reps. Terry Everett, Mike Rogers and Jo Bonner -- have been reappointed to the House Agriculture Committee, making Alabama one of the few states to have three congressmen on the committee.
"The Washington Legislative Trip gives us a chance to show lawmakers that Alabama, as the fourth-largest member of the 6 million-member AFBF, takes a very active role and interest in what happens in American agriculture," said Gray. "It says a lot that so many of our members are willing to take time away from their farms in order to come to Washington and make their voices heard."
The kickoff for the Washington Legislative Trip will be a Wednesday morning breakfast session featuring American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, will address the Alabama delegation at 10 a.m.
A roundtable discussion on various agricultural issues and individual, commodity-specific meetings are planned between small groups of farmers and key administration officials as well as congressional staff.
Several members of Congress and dozens of congressional staffers also are expected to attend a reception Wednesday evening featuring appetizers made from Alabama-grown products.
Both Alabama senators, Sen. Richard Shelby and Sen. Jeff Sessions, have agreed to speak to the Federation members Thursday at noon in the Dirksen Building, and all of Alabama's congressmen have been invited to speak with their respective farmer constituents prior to breakfast that day.