Good morning from our nation’s capital—it’s been good to be back in Washington! I also bring greetings from the Duvall family. We can’t thank you enough for your prayers and encouragement as we go through this trying time.
I’ve been so grateful for the support of the whole Farm Bureau family and our team here in D.C. They have done a great job of bringing Washington to me, so I could stay up to speed and as involved as possible in our advocacy work during my time back home.
Farmers and ranchers don’t know how to sit still: There’s always work to be done. And we expect that same “get it done” spirit from our lawmakers. I hope each of you will take advantage of this Easter recess to meet with your lawmakers while they’re back home and remind them of the work that needs to be done to help our farms, ranches and rural communities. Congress has a lot to get done when they return to Washington, so let’s be sure to send them back with a clear list of priorities.
First up, Congress must pass a disaster relief bill. Devastating storms, wildfires, volcanoes and floods have beaten a path of destruction across our country over the last year. Yet many farm families have been waiting months for assistance, with no help in sight. It’s time for Congress to put politics aside and bring relief to those who desperately need it.
It’s also time for lawmakers to stop blocking tough issues like immigration reform. Every time we’ve gotten close to a solution to our ag labor crisis, politics brought any progress to a grinding halt. In the meantime, demand for farm workers increases every season, taking our workforce shortage from bad to worse to critical. Congress must come together to fix our guest-worker visa program so that farmers and ranchers from all regions and commodities can have access to a legal, stable workforce.
Just this week, we passed an advocacy mile-marker that proves what we can accomplish when we tackle the tough issues together. We are one step closer to a new Clean Water Rule, and I want to extend a big thank you to every one of you who submitted comments! We’ve come a long way in our fight for clear rules, and it’s been a breath of fresh air to work with EPA and Corps officials who share that goal and want to hear from us.
We face some real challenges in our communities and across the country, but none of these hardships are impossible when we take them on together. Congress may be facing some tough political soil, but it’s time for them to dig in and follow the example of the hardworking folks they represent. When farmers run into a challenge, we don’t give up: we find a way forward. We are counting on our elected leaders to do the same.
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. You can follow him on Twitter @ZippyDuvall.