The annual National Farmers Union Washington D.C. Fly-In is the very definition of grassroots politics. This three-day event draws Farmers Union members from states as far as Alaska and Hawaii to meet with top officials of the USDA and, more importantly, their elected state representatives. The goal of these meetings is to remind those in D.C. of the issues their farming and rural constituents face back home. This year’s event took place September 12-14.

“Family farmers and ranchers are the best advocates we have for agriculture, and NFU’s annual legislative fly-in is an important part of our ongoing grassroots advocacy efforts,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “We emphasize to our members the importance of having open dialogue and building relationships with their elected officials in order to have their viewpoints represented in food and farm policy discussions.”

The three-day event began with a briefing at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). NFU members heard from USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, USDA Chief Economist Robert Johansson, Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Jason Weller and USDA Risk Management Agency Administrator Brandon Willis. President Johnson and NFU government relations representatives also provided remarks.

NFU members met with lawmakers over the following days to advocate for legislative priorities that will affect their operations and communities, including: Farm Bill programs and the farm safety net, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Renewable Fuel Standard and corporate consolidation in agriculture.

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KFU’s delegation to the 2016 NFU Fly-In included Kristina and Jeff Kindle, MRA agent, Concordia; NFU Beginning Farmer Institute participant Zach Teske, Wamego; KFU President Donn Teske, Wheaton; KFU board member Matt Ubel, Wheaton; Sean Gatewood, Topeka; and Dr. Don Stull, Lawrence.