Our State Dialogues program launched in 2019 as a way of engaging members of Congress in their home states and districts and connecting them with thought leaders and members of local agricultural communities. This program expanded in 2020 to include farm tours, enabling policymakers to see first-hand the community-building effects of strong agricultural policy. Through the State Dialogue program, the Foundation showcases the importance of U.S. leadership in agricultural research and food security initiatives – and helps lead the way toward new tangible policy outcomes.
HOW IT WORKS
State Policy Dialogues bring together members of Congress and local agricultural leaders, usually on the site of a Farmer Ambassador's operation or at a university’s agricultural school. Throughout the tour, participants discuss topics such as sustainability and conservation, animal health, agricultural research and development, and agricultural policy initiatives that promote farm and community growth.
2020 STATE DIALOGUES
On Nov. 23, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran met with farmers and agricultural thought leaders for a farm tour highlighting the importance of agricultural research for increasing global food security.
The event, held at Lund Farms in Salina, also included Martin Draper, associate dean for research and graduate programs at Kansas State University’s College of Agriculture; Jagger Harvey, director of the K-State Feed the Future Innovation Lab for the Reduction of Post-Harvest Loss; Tim Dalton, director of the K-State Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Sorghum and Millet; and David Hong, director of government affairs at Farm Journal Foundation.
The tour showcased how cutting-edge agricultural research is helping farmers at home and abroad increase their crop yields, prevent post-harvest losses, and ultimately improve food security for people around the world.
The tour demonstrated the work of K-State’s Feed the Future Innovation Labs, which are supported by USAID’s global food security initiative Feed the Future. The labs are a main mechanism to harness research expertise at U.S. land-grant universities, and the U.S. national research system as a whole, by fostering effective international partnerships with leading U.S. researchers and other partners such as the CGIAR international research system. K-State is home to four Innovation Labs, the most of any other university.
On August 10th, New York Farm Ambassadors Michael and Edie McMahon hosted the Foundation and key national-level policymakers at the E-Z Acres dairy farm in Homer, NY including Representative Anthony Brindisi (D-NY, 22nd District) and Senator Chuck Schumer’s Central New York Regional Director, Joe Nehme, representing.
The policy event featured a tour of Mike McMahon’s E-Z Acres dairy, an award-winning farm for sustainability and a Cornell CALS research case farm. The event highlighted E-Z Acres application of agricultural research, technology, and extension at the farm level and how collaborating with Cornell researchers has helped the McMahons build a sustainability plan.
As a result of this facilitated discussion, Congressman Brindisi announced plans to co-sponsor the America Grows Act (H.R. 4714), which would increase funding for four research agencies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Senator Schumer re-committed to a visit in early spring of 2021.
On August 19th, the Foundation collaborated with Pennsylvania Farmer Ambassador, Luke Brubaker, to host a second State Policy Dialogue and farm tour event at Brubaker Farms in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania. The policy event featured Congressman Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA, 15th District); Bob Sousa, State Director of Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA); Dr. Rick Roush, Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Pennsylvania State University; Rick Ebert, President of Pennsylvania Farm Bureau; and Tim Kurt, Scientific Program Director at the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR). The Brubaker family showcased a number of energy-efficient practices utilized on the dairy, including solar panels and an innovative methane digester that converts cow manure into electricity for the local community.
As a result of this policy event and farm tour, Congressman Thompson has taken a strong, supportive position with the Foundation’s work and mission, committing to be keynote speaker in spring 2021’s installment of the Foundation’s Speaker Series.
2019 STATE DIALOGUES
In March, Illinois Farmer Ambassador Heather Hampton-Knodle joined Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to tour the Realizing Increased Photosynthetic Efficiency (RIPE) lab, where they explored RIPE’s work improving photosynthesis in order to increase yields as an important step toward ensuring global food security.
As a direct result of this visit, Senator Durbin introduced the America Grows Act, which provides a path to critical agricultural research funding over the next five years.
In April, Farm Journal Foundation hosted a dialogue in Indiana with Senator Todd Young (R-IN), U.S. Ambassador to the UN Agencies for Food and Agriculture Kip Tom, Farmer Ambassador Kassi Tom Rowland, and other leaders in agriculture and academia. The group discussed how U.S. leadership is reducing poverty worldwide, the importance of building economic ties to the developing world, and improving national security through investments in global food security and agricultural development.
In Georgia, Congressman Stanford Bishop (D-GA) joined Farmer Ambassador Ricky Dollison and Fort Valley State University professors for a tour of the university's agricultural research facilities and participated in a roundtable discussion addressing global food security and the vital role of agricultural research. Following the dialogue, Congressman Bishop supported increases to the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) in the House Agriculture Appropriations bill. AFRI is the nation’s leading competitive grants program for agricultural sciences, and is vital to meet food, fibers, and fuel demands as the global population continues to increase. Meeting lawmakers in their home states and facilitating dialogues with thought leaders, farmers and producers, and engaged community members is key to making long term, systematic changes to supporting global food security, and Farm Journal Foundation is glad to be a facilitator of these important conversations.