By: Erin Oswald
I can still remember the morning when I received the call asking me to consider attending the fall legislative action conference of the National Pork Producers Council in Washington D.C. After slight consideration, I accepted the opportunity and little did I know all that was in store!
I learned that the basic goal of the conference is to bring hog producers and industry partners as well as agricultural supports together from across the nation to learn about and promote legislation that will support the swine industry as well as learn how to counteract legislation that would cause harm.
Nebraska representatives for the conference and myself left for Washington D.C. on September 11th. At breakfast the next morning, I had the honor to participate in awarding Representative Adrian Smith with the Friend of Pork Award and meet many other producers from states across the nation. That morning was spent learning about current issues and legislation, which we would later have the opportunity to discuss with our senators and representatives. These issues included the Farm Bill, trade agreements, and many others. I was personally asked to talk about exactly how my family and our business have been affected by the drought and current commodities. Throughout my mentoring experience so far, I have most enjoyed the opportunities to talk about my experiences growing up on the farm. This request, however, struck a serious emotion in me. As many of you are fully aware, this year’s conditions have caused high stress and concern for future production. Things are no different for my family and having the opportunity to personally relay the struggles of a true farming family from Nebraska was an important and humbling experience. The group I was with met with Senators Ben Nelson and the staff of Mike Johanns. Both offices shared a strong interest in the agricultural policies we presented to them. That evening, NPPC held a banquet for the legislators and their staff. It was highly attended and was most definitely an experience I will remember.
The trip to Washington D.C. was a fulfilling and educational. If it were not for the mentoring program, I would not have been given such an incredible opportunity. I gained a greater respect for the work of our NPPC staff and their work to get agriculturally supportive polices before our legislators. As a mentor, I have been given a plethora of engaging and educational opportunities, but this trip to attend the Fall Legislative Action Conference has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.