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Episode 37: Understanding & Navigating the 2023 Farm Bill with Jenny Mesirow

In the world of agriculture, the policies and legislation that govern the industry play a crucial role in shaping its trajectory. The Farm Bill, an all-encompassing piece of legislation that re-authorizes agricultural programs at the federal level, holds significance for farmers and the agricultural community.

To shed light on the intricacies of the 2023 Farm Bill and offer valuable insights for beginning farmers, we turn to Jenny Mesirow, who leads the Federal Lobbying team at Farm Credit Council. With her unique background and experience in advocating for farmers, Jenny provides practical advice on understanding Farm Bill legislation.

In this blog post, we dive into Jenny’s career journey, her role in the Farm Credit System, and the valuable information she shares for actively engaging in the legislative process and finding resources on the Farm Bill.

Jenny’s professional path as a lobbyist has been driven by a desire to help members of Congress and their staff understand the agricultural landscape.

“I would beg producers to let me come onto their farms and do tours,” says Jenny. “Because in agriculture in particular, touching it, feeling it, smelling it, and walking on someone’s farm with their families is really the only way that you can learn more about it.”

Through her role as the leader of the Federal Lobbying team on the Farm Credit Council, Jenny helps shape agricultural policy and advocates for the interests of farmers across the United States. 

“Our mission is to serve rural communities and agriculture in good times and bad,” says Jenny. “The Farm Credit System is such an important tool available to farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses, and rural communities.”

With her deep involvement in the Farm Credit System, Jenny possesses a wealth of knowledge and expertise to guide us through the legislative process of the 2023 Farm Bill.

“In every Farm Bill, there are certain fights that have to be fought and agriculture has to engage in those,” explains Jenny. By re-authorizing key agricultural programs, the Farm Bill ensures the continuity of vital initiatives such as crop insurance, conservation programs, nutrition assistance, and agricultural research funding.

For beginning farmers, understanding the Farm Bill’s significance is crucial for harnessing its potential benefits. “The Farm Bill re-authorizes most agricultural programs that flow through the federal government to the individual producer,” says Jenny. “So all the farm service agency programs, rural development programs, and parts of crop insurance.”

The Farm Bill addresses these with tailored provisions and programs. Some of the topics producers will want to pay attention to include changes to crop insurance, the cap on FSA-guaranteed loans, and commodity target prices.

“Depending on what kind of production you’re involved in, you want to pay attention to the program specifics,” explains Jenny. “This includes reference prices for commodities and the crop insurance programs that are important for what you are growing.”

While the Farm Credit System plays a vital role in representing the interests of farmers and advocating for their needs, Jenny stresses the importance of producers themselves helping bridge the gap between legislation and boots on the ground.

“The more that you can communicate with your members of Congress that the passage of the Farm Bill is important for your livelihood and that, as a constituent you care about the Farm Bill, the more successful we’ll all be at agriculture,” says Jenny.

One way farmers can find reliable information about the Farm Bill is the Farm Credit Council’s website, farmcredit.com. To influence legislators, grassroots campaigns help generate support or opposition to specific legislation. Farmers can join the Council’s grassroots program by texting the word “CREDIT” to 52886, where they will receive alerts and notifications regarding important developments.

Additionally, participating in organizations like your local Farm Bureau and commodity organizations can also provide similar grassroots support. And lastly, sharing your story can be a powerful way to communicate what you do.

“I like to tell people that stories are sticky,” states Jenny. “There’s nothing more important than telling your story if we want to ensure that members of Congress understand what it is that we’re doing every day in the agriculture industry.”

Here’s a glance at this episode:

  • [01:02] Jenny introduces herself and shares her background.
  • [05:30] Jenny shares her cultural perspective of living and working in Washington DC.
  • [07:55] Currently leading the Federal Lobbying team on the Farm Credit Council, Jenny shares how she got involved in the Farm Credit System.
  • [14:45] Jenny shares the history of the Farm Credit System and why it’s important for rural communities and agriculture, particularly for young, beginning, and starting farmers.
  • [18:55] Jenny conveys the importance of the Farm Bill legislation passing.
  • [24:22] Speaking on some of the “hot topics” in the Farm Bill, Jenny explains the legislation changes that may have the biggest impact on farmers.
  • [28:16] Jenny discusses what beginning farmers should know about the Farm Bill, where they can go to get more information, and how they can support or oppose particular legislation.
  • [33:30] Jenny and our hosts leave the conversation discussing how farm and agricultural stories are important to ensuring members of Congress understand what farmers do.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

  • For resources and information about the Farm Bill, visit farmcredit.com
  • Text CREDIT to 52886 to get notifications on grassroots legislation efforts

Connect with AgCredit on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Share questions and topic ideas with us:
Email podcast@agcredit.net

Bios

Guest

Jenny Mesirow leads the lobbying team at the Farm Credit Council. She is a graduate of The University of Florida.

Transcription

Voiceover (00:08):Welcome to AgCredit Said It. In each episode, our hosts sit down with experts from all parts of the agriculture industry to bring you insights and must-have information on all things from farming to finances and everything in between.

Matt Adams (00:27):Hey, guys, and welcome back to another exciting episode of AgCredit Said It. I'm Matt, and here, my partner in crime, as always, Libby. Libby, how we doing today?

Libby Wixtead (00:36):Doing great. The sun was shining on the way up and I saw fields are planted, so that's exciting.

Matt Adams (00:42):It's been kind of one of them crazy springs, a little different weather. Northwest Ohio weather, 40 degrees, 80 degrees, rain, snow, sunshine, usually all in about the same week. That always just makes a guy just really scratch his head when you're trying to plant something.

Libby Wixtead (00:59):Well, I'm sure there's been a lot of 24-hour planting days here for some of these guys.

Matt Adams (01:04):Yeah. Well, we've got an exciting episode today. We are going to meet with Jenny Mesirow, and she is part of our Farm Credit Council for the Farm Credit System, and we're going to get some Farm Bill updates and just some general stuff going on in DC.

Libby Wixtead (01:22):Welcome, Jenny. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Jenny Mesirow (01:27):Sure, I can tell you a little bit about my background and how I got to where I am now. I am originally from South Florida. I always really liked politics. It was a little bit of a family tradition. My grandmother was very involved in politics in New Jersey. My mom had sort of dabbled, as well. And when I got into the University of Florida I thought, you know what, let's give the poli-sci major a go. And then I did a criminology minor, thinking, oh I'll go to law school or something like that.

(02:08):But I got this very cool opportunity when I was a junior to join their political management master's program. So I got to do my last 12 undergraduate credits in the graduate school. And then my senior year of college was all in the graduate school, so I got a ton of practical application as well as political theory classes and I just fell in love with the political campaign and the process and did a bunch of summer internships with campaign consultants, both here in Washington and in Florida. And it just became a thing I thought I could be passionate about throughout my career.

Matt Adams (02:52):Gotcha. Now, you said your grandmother was in politics in New Jersey. How'd that come about? Is that original family up there? Did her career take her that direction?

Jenny Mesirow (03:04):Yeah, so as most people in Florida are, they're all from New York or New Jersey.

Matt Adams (03:11):I'm just thinking, if I'm living in Florida, there's no way I'm going to be moving up where it's colder. I want to move down south where it's warmer.

Jenny Mesirow (03:17):Right, right. So my parents moved to Florida, met in Florida and never went home. They were originally from Jersey.

Matt Adams (03:24):Gotcha.

Jenny Mesirow (03:25):Yes. So both sides of my family are originally from the southern part of New Jersey.

Matt Adams (03:33):And I’ve got to think that the campaign side of things, that's always been very interesting to me. Because, granted, we see more of just what's on TV and radio but looks like it can get pretty heated and, I mean, it's a fast-moving train to be on.

Jenny Mesirow (03:47):Oh, yeah. It's the least glamorous profession ever. It is like 16, 17-hour days. You are just moving constantly and your whole job is to make the candidate look the best that you can and to help them be as successful as possible. And then at the same time, sort of educating voters about your candidate and what their policy goals would be and what their personality is and what their background is. And you have a very truncated time period to do all of that in.

Matt Adams (04:21):That's like Sales 101. You're selling your client, basically, to everybody.

Jenny Mesirow (04:26):Exactly, exactly.

Matt Adams (04:29):And then college, the University of Florida, we deciphered here. You were at the beginning of the Urban Meyer era before we graciously took him up here into the great State of Ohio.

Jenny Mesirow (04:41):Yes, yes. I was there the first year that Urban Meyer was coach and he put together one of, I think, the only dual quarterback playbooks for a college team at the time. So it was a really exciting time to be able to go to football games for the cheap student price. And, as I'm sure you know, there's epic tailgating at the University of Florida. We know how to do it right.

Matt Adams (05:08):That's right.

Libby Wixtead (05:10):Well, I will share with you that I was the start of Urban Meyer coming to Ohio State, so that was really exciting on my end. So I can share that with you. We had really good football when I was at Ohio State.

Jenny Mesirow (05:25):He knew how to put together a college football program.

Libby Wixtead (05:28):Right, absolutely.

Matt Adams (05:30):So Jenny, you're based in DC, been there most of your career. I guess, for one, I'm always curious, what is the culture? I mean, what is it like being around basically the leaders and the lawmakers of our country on a daily basis? I mean, it's got to be, I would think, awfully intimidating, to me. I don't think I could hardly talk to anybody around there.

Jenny Mesirow (05:55):I think, because I started working for candidates... So how I ended up in Washington was I was working on a political campaign in Florida for a member of Congress who was running for the first time. He won and typically members of Congress like to have at least one person on their staff in Washington that's sort of from the district or close to the district. So he asked me to move to DC and I thought I'd be here two years and then go back home. And here I am 17 years later, still in Washington.

 

(06:25):But certainly when I worked for members of Congress there would be nights where we'd be voting really late and you would have to walk through the rotunda of the Capitol at night with the lights on and no one else there. And you definitely look up and see the frescoes and think to yourself, how did I get here? How did this happen to me? This is just the most special experience. So there's definitely those moments still when I am walking, rushing to a meeting and I'm walking past the front of the Capitol. You just get an appreciation for where you live and the history.

 

(07:02):Even as much as our time right now feels fraught, it's still you're part of a democracy that's unique in the world. So there's definitely pinch-yourself moments. And I'd say the flip side of that is members of Congress are people. They put on their clothes the same way we do. They fly in coach with the rest of us, usually. They're people with sometimes eccentric personalities, but people nonetheless. You just kind of figure out how to navigate those personalities. And most of the time they're just very normal, down-to-earth, nice people who found an opportunity to serve their country in a kind of unique way.

Matt Adams (07:49):I mean, to a point, just like us, they're there to do a job and do it to the best of their ability.

Jenny Mesirow (07:54):Exactly.

Matt Adams (07:55):So Jenny, you're part of our Farm Credit Council and part of our Farm Credit System. So you're up there lobbying in DC but you're lobbying for, I say, the good guys, us in agriculture. So what made you want to get involved into the Farm Credit System and the Farm Credit Council? Was there some agricultural background or just an opportunity that presented itself?

Jenny Mesirow (08:20):No, I'm not a farm kid at all. The first member of Congress that I worked for, part of my job on his campaign was to get to know the more rural parts of that district. It was a district that went from the east coast of Florida to the west coast of Florida. So a ton of sugar, citrus, some cattle.

Matt Adams (08:38):So I’d say orange groves and stuff, that area right there. Okay.

Jenny Mesirow (08:42):Exactly. So I got to know those producers really well and my boss at the time was on the Agriculture Committee. So I had the opportunity to start doing his ag issues and two years or so into that, working for that member, I got the opportunity to go work for a member from North Mississippi. And his district had things I'd never seen. So cotton, corn, soybeans, totally different than Florida.

Matt Adams (09:09):Oh, yeah.

Jenny Mesirow (09:10):So I spent a ton of time going down to the district. I would beg producers to let me come onto their farms and do tours because I think, and I tell staff that I work with now, in agriculture in particular, touching it, feeling it, smelling it, walking someone's farm with the producers and their families, that's really the only way that you learn it.

(09:36):So I did a lot of that. Farm Bureau in Mississippi was amazing. They took me all kinds of places. The universities, getting to know the research that they're doing in the agriculture space, the land grants, all that stuff. There was a couple of people at Extension that I would spend a lot of time with. I just show up at the Extension center in Starkville.

Libby Wixtead (09:59):I feel like that's such a good point to make, though, that a lot of the aides that are working for our congressional members, most of them probably don't have a background in agriculture and to invite them to your farm, just to get to know it, to understand it, I know this is a far-fetched kind of idea from our thought, I guess Matt, you and I, but I had a cousin who thought a cow was a deer in a field.

(10:27):And I don't want to say that most people think that, but there's just that opportunity to really educate them and, like you said, get them out on your farm so they can see it, smell it, ask questions, because, really, that's their job is to gather information and questions and take that back. So I think that's such a good point to hear you say that you just dove into it and that was your favorite part, which I feel like would be a lot of people's favorite part is going on tours and getting to learn about people.

 

Matt Adams (10:52):Yeah. And I will say for all our listeners out there, get on our Farm Credit System website and on the AgCredit website. The Farm Credit System, and I can tell, Jenny, you guys have done a great job on just promoting the users, the producers. Because yes, does food come from the grocery store? To a point, yes, that's the end market, but knowing how that food got to the grocery store and how it was grown and that's, I think, a story that seems like we keep retelling, but I think it's something that needs to be told all the time because there is so much just uninformed.

(11:30):People, they've never had the opportunity to go out to a farm. Or they want a loaf of bread, well, they know you can go down to the corner store or the supermarket and get some. They don't really understand how that seed was planted, wheat, and then went to the mill and everything. So I think that's one great thing that at least I've noticed being an employee with AgCredit and part of the Farm Credit System, how we are really trying to promote the story of agriculture through the whole country.

Jenny Mesirow (11:59):Absolutely. I will say, first of all, moving from Congress to then taking the job with the Farm Credit Council. So I've been there now 12 years and like you said, I've-

Matt Adams (12:10):12 years. Wow.

Jenny Mesirow (12:13):I lead our Federal Lobbying team at the Council. And our job is really to represent all of the interests of Farm Credit before Congress and the Administration. So the things that are important not just to the Farm Credit System, but also to our customers. And a lot of my job, like you said, is educating staff of members of Congress who often don't have any exposure to agriculture in the past. And I can appreciate that because that's very much my experience when I was on the hill as well.

 

(12:41):And whenever we have folks from the Farm Credit System, whether it be customers or folks like you coming to town, invite people, invite members of Congress, invite the staff back to your farm. You've got to show them what you're doing because if you're not exposed to it, you just need that first opportunity to get out and explore and ask the stupid questions and get a sense of the diversity of American agriculture, both in diversity of operator and diversity of operation. People do not have a good understanding of the amount of technology and just very cool things that are going on in American agriculture right now.

Libby Wixtead (13:27):Absolutely.

Matt Adams (13:28):And I think, to a point, it's not all glamorous like a lot of our advertising makes it look. Yes, we do have a lot of technology on our equipment and the guy with clean jeans and T-shirt and a tractor, well that's all good advertising and that's how we usually start out the day. But by the end of the day you're usually covered in dust.

Libby Wixtead (13:47):You're not smiling.

Matt Adams (13:49):Right. But you just get you getting that real story of agriculture and, like you said, inviting people out to the farm. I know Libby and I have talked about it and I can speak for, I think, a lot of farmers that we're a very proud group. Come on out, we like to show off our stuff. I like to show you, "Hey, this is what we're doing." It's a legacy. Is it a business? Yes. And it's always going to be a business. But it's so much more than a business. That's, I guess, the way I kind of look at it, especially as account officers. Yes, we have to look at it as a business, but it's so much more. It's a livelihood. It's what we're doing now, we're definitely doing for the next generation.

Jenny Mesirow (14:29):Well, it's a sophisticated business, as well.

Matt Adams (14:34):Yes.

Jenny Mesirow (14:35):These are sophisticated operations that are sometimes using futures markets and all kinds of sophisticated business tools that people don't associate necessarily with your farmer with a couple of tractors. That's what they think of it, and that's just not where we are, which is great.

Matt Adams (14:54):Yeah. And I think that sophistication kind of takes me to my next question for you, and this is where I feel you guys really come in, but I guess, first, why is this organization important to us as Farm Credit customers?

Jenny Mesirow (15:14):Yeah, absolutely. Farm Credit was created by Congress more than 100 years ago, I think 107 now. And because it was created by Congress, Congress at any point can decide that they don't like the Farm Credit System and they would like to change it, alter it or take it away. And it's such an important tool that's available to farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses, rural communities, because it's a dedicated source of credit for those industries. And unlike traditional banks that can kind of come in and out of the marketplace as the market determines, Farm Credit can't do that, nor would we want to.

 

(15:55):Our mission is to serve rural communities and agriculture in good times and bad. And without that tool, I think American agriculture would fall behind the rest of the world. So it's my job to ensure that Congress and any administration understands, first of all, again, how sophisticated farming and ranching and agribusinesses are today and the need, the incredible need for credit that exists and that that credit has to be consistent and reliable and that's what Farm Credit can provide. With the additional benefit of our young, beginning and small programs because we have that mission, because YBS is part of our mission and because we are constantly searching out new young, beginning producers to join, to become Farm Credit members.

 

(16:47):We have a unique opportunity to drive the next generation of agriculture and to make sure there are new producers and there really aren't any other lenders who are mission-driven like that, who are committed to making sure there's a next generation of agriculture. So I think that's the other really important part of ensuring that Farm Credit can exist for generations to come and can continue to serve customers in the way that we have for over 100 years.

Libby Wixtead (17:16):I know there is a lot, and Matt, I think you probably can agree, just out of our clients ourselves, that there are so many YBS members and including myself and my husband and our operation, that if it wasn't for the Farm Credit System and for AgCredit giving us that chance to have that first loan, to go out and do that, to start our operation. I mean, we have many first-generation farmers, which is so exciting that our young and beginning and small farmers that we are here for a mission and that's what's so exciting is to see them be successful and grow.

 

(17:50):And it would just break my heart, to be honest, if we didn't exist, because there would be a lot of young, beginning farmers and first-generation farms that would not even exist today, if it wasn't for the Farm Credit System and for the work that you guys are doing. So we do appreciate all the work that you have done for us and that you guys continue to do.

Jenny Mesirow (18:10):Oh, it's my pleasure. It has been the honor of my career so far to represent the Farm Credit System because every time, particularly in the young, beginning and small space. But across the board, every producer that I meet is so incredibly generous with their time and their energy and are always so welcoming, and everyone within the system, all of the branch managers, CEOs, everybody that you meet is just so family oriented, so committed to the mission and it's just such a pleasure to represent them. I think you mentioned it before, if you're going to be a lobbyist, what better organization to get the opportunity to represent than Farm Credit?

Libby Wixtead (18:55):Yeah. So, going along all of this, could you share what the pulse is on the hill on just agriculture in general? Because we have the Farm Bill that's coming up this year. Can you give us a little bit of a feeling of pulse with the congressional members of how they're feeling about agriculture and what are some of the hot topics that are in the Farm Bill?

Jenny Mesirow (19:21):Sure, absolutely. The Farm Bill is sort of the all-encompassing piece of legislation that re-authorizes most agriculture programs that flow through the federal government to individual producers. So all the farm service agency programs, all of the rural development programs, parts of crop insurance, all authorized by the Farm Bill. And if the legislation's not passed every five years and those authorizations are allowed to lapse, then the government cannot administer those programs.

(19:57):So it is really important that Congress passes a Farm Bill. The current Farm Bill expires September 30th and every Farm Bill is different. This will be my fourth Farm Bill that I've had the opportunity to work on, and the political process is unique to each one. But if they do not pass the Farm Bill by September 30th, then either they can pass an extension, so just existing law would be extended for a certain period of time while they continue to negotiate, or the legislation lapses. And while there's some flexibility to administer programs beyond September 30th, some programs would cease to be able to be administered.

 

(20:38):So again, really, really important that we get it done. From a political perspective, Congress is deeply divided right now and whether it's the Democrats in the Senate who are in control or the Republicans in the House that are in control, that level of control, the margin of control is very, very narrow. So it's almost impossible to get anything done and signed by the President that is not done in an incredibly bipartisan way. So it's going to be the goals of I think both the House and the Senate and Chairman Thompson, who's the chairman of the House Ag Committee and Chairwoman Stabenow, who's the chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, have been very clear that they want a bipartisan bill.

 

(21:24):Chairwoman Stabenow works very closely with her ranking member, Mr. Boozman, who's a Republican from Arkansas. They have a very strong working relationship. The last Farm Bill that went through the Senate got 86 votes, which is sort of unheard of from a bipartisan perspective. And both of them are saying they want more than 86 for this Farm Bill. On the house side, Mr. Thompson is also taking a very bipartisan stance and, because there's so many new members on the Ag Committee who just have never served in Congress and certainly have never done a Farm Bill, he is traveling the country, going to members' districts, educating, educating, educating, getting people excited because he understands that this is going to take all parties, all people to get it done.

Matt Adams (22:14):Yeah, I think that's interesting, Jenny, because I had heard that, too, that many members on our Farm Bill, they are very new members to DC. I guess I want to ask your opinion here. I always like asking politicians' opinions, but I look at it as a great opportunity for us in agriculture having basically young blood in there that maybe don't already have a persona about agriculture or wanting to learn and get that fresh outlook for this Farm Bill.

(22:44):Because you talked about sophistication in agriculture. I got a feeling that this Farm Bill probably has more, not really turmoil, but you guys got a lot of things that's out with climate control and there's a lot of other things. It's probably buttoned up against this Farm Bill that, "Hey, we got questions about this. How does it affect the Farm Bill?" I mean, in your feel, do you feel good about having the basically new blood in there for the Farm Bill?

Jenny Mesirow (23:14):I do. I think thus far all of the new members that I've met, whether they be Democrats or Republicans, are all committed to educating themselves. The staff are all committed to getting educated. They're very excited to do a Farm Bill and to participate in the process. So I'm sort of, probably unlike many in Washington, I'm an eternal optimist when it comes to our ability to, at the end of the day, hold hands and govern.

(23:44):There's probably not any other, besides the debt limit, which I think everyone's tired of hearing about, but it's there and it's got to get done. Aside from that, it's really the only big piece of legislation that's going to move this year. So it's an incredible opportunity for folks to work together and get something done. Now, does that sort of limit the realm of possible of what can make it into the Farm Bill? Absolutely. We're talking probably small tweaks, minor changes, not transformational legislation.

Libby Wixtead (24:22):And that's a positive thing with what is in the Farm Bill that would directly affect our farmers. Can you go into a little bit of some of the topics in the past that have an absolute direct impact on our farmers that they may not realize, that can be easily pulled out of the Farm Bill and most people want to have taken out of the Farm Bill or things that... how they want to split it, or just all of the things that they've talked about with that direct impact?

Jenny Mesirow (24:53):Yeah, absolutely. So at the most basic level, again, just making sure that the programs are authorized by Congress so that they can be implemented. But every Farm Bill, there's certain fights that have to be fought and agriculture has to engage in those. So people want to make cuts to crop insurance, which means the federal subsidy level for people that purchase crop insurance would be altered. We want to prevent that from happening. Currently, the crop insurance program works pretty well. I know there's always products that need policies that don't have them. So sometimes the Farm Bill's a good opportunity to add certain policies or certain flexibilities.

(25:35):For instance, whole-farm revenue crop insurance is a new product since the last Farm Bill. They'll probably make some tweaks to that to make it more user-friendly. If a member of Congress, and someone will, they will introduce legislation to cut crop insurance or fundamentally change crop insurance or add a different adjusted-growth income limit to it. So part of our job is to work with the rest of our friends in agriculture, so Farm Bureau, corn, beans, et cetera, and ensure that there's a strong crop insurance program and nobody is changing it in a negative way in the context of this Farm Bill. Some of the other things that we're working on at Farm Credit along with other lending institutions is increasing the cap for FSA-guaranteed loans.

Libby Wixtead (26:27):Woo-hoo.

Matt Adams (26:27):Yeah, we like to hear that.

Jenny Mesirow (26:27):Right now the cap is just over two million, and you guys know this from your service territory. If you are going to get into chicken production, for instance, you probably need about six houses to have a sustainable business that feeds your family, right?

Matt Adams (26:52):Correct.

Jenny Mesirow (26:52):Well, you're talking way over $2 million to be able to finance that. So we would like the caps to go to $3.5 million, adjusted then to inflation, so that it's a program that works for how expensive agriculture is currently to get into. If you want young, beginning producers, you've got to make sure the programs that are available match the realities of becoming a new producer.

Libby Wixtead (27:19):Yes, absolutely. I mean, buying land now, you easily can hit that limit and then the flexibility piece for our producers is very difficult then, it seems like.

Matt Adams (27:35):It is. Well, hey, we're going to take a quick break and we will be right back on AgCredit Said It.

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Matt Adams (28:16):All right, guys, we're back with Jenny Mesirow. We're hitting some good topics today, Farm Bill, the Farm Credit Council. So Jenny, I want to get back to we're talking about the Farm Bill and everything in that one big thing with the Farm Credit System and the Farm Credit Council. We talked about our YBS, our beginning producers. You said this is your fourth Farm Bill that you've been a part of. For a lot of our young producers, this is their first farm. They don't know what's in it or what they should be looking at. And I think looking at more of our beginning guys, what should they be focusing on in this Farm Bill?

Jenny Mesirow (28:57):Depending on what kind of production you're involved in, you obviously want to pay attention to the program specifics. So target prices for the commodities, the crop insurance programs that are important for what you're growing. But really just getting the Farm Bill done so that even existing programs that they may be participating in, like EQIP or technical assistance through NRCS, all of that again comes through the Farm Bill and the programs that are authorized there.

(29:32):So advocating through either Farm Credit or the other member organizations you may be a part of, if you're a part of Farm Bureau, they'll be advocating for the passage of the Farm Bill. If you are a member of the Soybean Association or the Corn Growers. We are all working very closely together and we all have our individual priorities for our industries, but job one is just get the bill done. So the more that you can communicate with your members of Congress that this is important for your livelihood and that, as a constituent, you care about the Farm Bill, the more successful we'll all be at agriculture.

Matt Adams (30:09):So kind of looking at that local level that our producers can do, you talked about being involved in those organizations, Farm Bureau, other, is there a place that our producers can go to get more information on the Farm Bill and how they can help push stuff, view as much as we can at the local level here?

Jenny Mesirow (30:30):Oh yeah, absolutely. The Farm Credit Council, so farmcredit.com, we have a ton of resources available on Farm Bill and our positions on Farm Bill. You can also visit our website if we're ever doing a campaign to help members of Congress understand how important the passage of the Farm Bill is. Members of Congress get information in a couple of ways. So the detailed working through bills is often myself and others in the ag space and leadership of Farm Credit organizations, the corn, the soybeans, those folks, coming together and working with members of Congress to educate them more broadly and also more narrowly so that we're getting things in legislation that make sense.

(31:19):But when it comes to the passage of those bills, it's also helpful for members of Congress to understand that there's an economy of scale there. So they have lots of constituents who are interested in what that member of Congress is going to do, how they're going to vote on an individual piece of legislation. That's where we utilize grassroots tools. So we generate mass amounts of folks who are either supporting or opposing a particular legislation so that members of Congress can say, "You know what? I got 1,000 emails from individuals who support the Farm Bill. I better vote for the Farm Bill."

 

(31:57):So one of the ways that we generate that kind of information to members of Congress is through our grassroots platform. We use it pretty sparingly. It's really, again, just for really big pieces of legislation that we support and a way to get notifications is to text the word credit. So C-R-E-D-I-T, just like Farm Credit, to 52886, and you can be a part of the council's grassroots program. I'm sure Farm Bureau, other organizations also have those, as well. So you can go to their websites and sign up, too. But that's a really great way to get involved, and then also get alerts. For instance, the day that the Farm Bill's on the floor, you'll get an alert.

Matt Adams (32:36):Gotcha. Okay.

Libby Wixtead (32:37):So then, when they get an alert, how do they send their email or what do they do when they get that alert, then?

Jenny Mesirow (32:45):It's super easy. So if you text credit, you'll put in your name, your email address, your phone number, and your zip code. And we use your zip code to match you to your member of Congress or your senator. And depending on where the bill is, you'll either be able to email right there through your text, there'll be a link to load up your email. It's preloaded what it says. You can edit it if you'd like, but it's preset. It's very simple, usually saying, "The Farm Bill is going to be on the floor tomorrow. Make sure you vote yes." I mean, real simple. But you'll get that text alert and you'll be able to just put in your information and send the emails to your appropriate members of Congress.

Libby Wixtead (33:28):Okay. Very good. Very, very simple.

Matt Adams (33:30):That is awesome. And for all our listeners out there, this information will be in our show notes and we'll have Kayla put some links up on stuff so that everybody can look this stuff up. And I think, we talk about sharing that story of agriculture, and it's kind of like what Jenny said. It's important that we as farmers, we as producers, whether you're an orange grower in Florida or a cotton grower in Mississippi, or a corn, beans, wheat and cattle farmer from northwest Ohio or our hog producers. But it's sharing that story.

(34:10):If you get an opportunity to talk with your local legislators or if you could just get the opportunity to talk to one of our representatives, share that story, let them know how proud we are. And I've said it before, the American farmer, we have been tasked with feeding the world, basically. Yes, it's a worldwide agriculture, but we are always the front-runner. We're the quarterback of this whole industry so it's up to us to just drive this thing home every time.

Jenny Mesirow (34:39):Yes. I like to tell people that stories are sticky. So most members of Congress, you can show them corn price charts or where we are economically within the agriculture industry, and they'll have a general sense that what you told them is good or bad. But they'll always remember the farm family that they met on a farm tour and their methane digester or how many acres of corn that they saw and how beautiful it was. Or that somebody told them you can only harvest cotton on days that are sunny because otherwise your cotton is gray.

(35:21):I mean, they remember those specific stories because they felt it, they touched it, they heard it from a constituent, and there's nothing more important than telling your story if we want to ensure that members of Congress and folks in the administration, as well, understand what it is that we're doing every day in the agriculture industry.

Libby Wixtead (35:40):It's hitting all of those senses, that they can just be there and live the life of a farmer for a day and understand what that's like. So no, I understand that because I feel like, even just with our customers, when we go out to the farm, that's how we get a better sense of understanding for their operations, so I appreciate that.

Matt Adams (36:06):Maybe I'm a little biased, but I think the Farm Credit system, I believe we are the lenders for rural America. It's kind of like the Ohio State University. I mean we're the top, but we call ourselves... Yeah, we're lenders, but we're relationship lenders. We're building that relationship with that producer. And it's not just this generation. We watch the young farm couple have kids, and then we're hoping to develop that relationship with their next generation, with that group. So it's a system really like none other.

Jenny Mesirow (36:40):Oh, absolutely. It's my favorite thing to explain to folks is that we're so customer oriented, so in many of your financial relationships, do you know your loan officer? Do you know your credit advisor?

Matt Adams (36:57):That's how I look at it with a lot of different lending than what we do. You're an account number in a lot of places, but that's how that industry is geared towards.

Jenny Mesirow (37:08):Right. It's about pumping out the loan, whereas everybody in Farm Credit knows exactly who their loan officer is, and that person has probably been on their farm at some point, if not multiple times a year to say hi. And it's what allows us also to be more flexible. If you can get a sense of what a producer is doing or trying to do with their business, then you can communicate it to your credit folks. And we can make decisions and help young, beginning producers in a way that traditional lenders just cannot.

Libby Wixtead (37:40):We are the experts, that's what I like to say. Well, Jenny, we just want to say thank you so much for taking time out of your day to join us and share with us about the Farm Credit Council and about the Farm Bill and just sharing our time, getting to know you as well. And I think that's going to wrap us up for today.

Matt Adams (38:00):And I just want to, usually, I always tell all of our listeners, "Hey, be sure to look on our website, agcredit.net, for all information. I always say, "I'm hoping I'm hitting this worldwide." Now, I feel like we might be kind of a big deal here, but for our listeners, that may not be, because the Farm Credit System, we are a territory-driven, just for ease of convenience for members, organization.

(38:23):So on the Farm Credit website, you can find your regional lender. I'm hoping somebody is in their tractor in their grove in California listening to me right now. So definitely look it up and find your local Farm Credit office to work with. If you can't, give us a call at AgCredit, I'll direct you that way.

Libby Wixtead (38:46):We'll help you find the closest office to your county.

Matt Adams (38:48):That's right.

Libby Wixtead (38:50):We believe in Farm Credit across our nation and not just here in Ohio, in our territory. So I think today the best thing to do for our producers is to get ahold of your congressional members and share your story. And, like Jenny said, invite them out to the farm so they can touch it, feel it, smell it, and live the life of you for a day, and really let them get to know you and have them contact you for questions rather than contacting the wrong individual or organization to get the wrong information.

Matt Adams (39:28):And Jenny, one more time. What was that text for people to do?

Jenny Mesirow (39:33):Sure. Absolutely. You text credit to 52886.

Matt Adams (39:38):Perfect. Thank you. Everybody, be doing that on your phones right now.

Libby Wixtead (39:43):All right. That'll do it for this episode of AgCredit Said It. Be sure to follow us on all our social media platforms and please subscribe to our podcast so others can find it as well. Thanks again and we'll see you later on AgCredit Said It.

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