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Gearing Up for Washington, D.C. - and Why It's Important to Go

It's been far too long since I've written a post here. And when I did write, it seemed like it was always about avian influenza, which has been in the forefront of most of what I've been working on this spring and summer, and rightfully so.

While that ongoing issue continues to be incredibly important, I'm going to switch gears just a little this time and tell you what I'm preparing for this month - my organization's annual trip to Washington, D.C. to talk to our congressional leaders as part of the 2015 National Turkey Federation Summer Leadership Conference.

This year, of course, the bulk of our conversations and most of our issues will be based on avian influenza. (I just can't seem to get away from writing about that!) However, even without such a large outbreak and the challenges it brought us, our organization sees the importance of visiting our nation's capitol at least annually and talking about what's important to our turkey farmers and turkey companies.

Our trip to D.C. - which includes several of our organization's farmer members as well as representation from our state's turkey companies - includes several components:

  • Committee meetings and legislative briefings with the National Turkey Federation, to help us stay abreast of current issues, get a sense of the political workings at the Capitol, and provide talking points for our congressional meetings.
  • A special dinner with regulatory agency folks with representation from FDA, EPA, USDA, and more. This is a chance for our industry to sit down informally with agency representatives and have thoughtful conversations about the issues at hand.
  • Congressional meetings on the Hill, as the locals call it. This is really the backbone of our trip - where we spend time at all the congressional offices of Minnesota, North Dakota, and much of Wisconsin. We discuss what's happening in our industry and provide issue papers to our congressional leaders and their staffers.

This isn't just handshake-and-photo time. We take this time seriously and aim to lay the groundwork that may help us during particularly challenging times. And in the case of this year's meetings, we have a lot of avian flu-related agenda items to discuss.

I know many agriculture organizations have similar events in Washington, D.C., and I would highly encourage you to take part in these at least once. It's quite an experience to see the inner workings of Capitol Hill - and despite some of the negativity we all hear, it truly is an inspiring trip. I never get tired of visiting Washington, D.C., and it reminds me why I feel blessed to live in this country and work on behalf of agriculture.

Join me on July 7 for a special Twitter chat that will cover ways we can engage our political and regulatory leaders - both in person and also by using social media. It's part of the weekly #AgChat series of Twitter chats - just follow along using the hashag, #AgChat, or use a free program like TweetChat to join in the fun. If you have a question you'd like to ask, feel free to email it to me at ldurben@minnesotaturkey.com. I'm moderating #AgChat that night and would love to use your questions!

 

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