(Posted Wed. Feb 8th, 2012)
Feb: 8: Last week, National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer, along with other members of the organizations leadership, took time away from his farm again to meet with federal legislators in Washington DC for discussions on issues affecting corn farmers across the country. During this visit, he also took time to speak on the importance of helping government officials understand how potential legislation and regulation could impact farmers. Stressing the key role that grassroots activism plays in the development of government policies, Niemeyer encouraged his fellow growers to cultivate the relationships that will help farming grow.
Explaining this trip in particular, he noted that making an impact on the Hill requires sustained efforts.
“This is no different than what we normally do before a farm bill,” he said, speaking on behalf of all NCGA leadership. “During this trip, we [also] talked about our concerns over the proposed wireless broadband network as laid out by the company Lightsquared. We noted both importance of increasing rural internet access and the possible harm that could come from interference created by it. If the signals used interfere with our GPS devices, it would cause harm to the ways we currently use innovative, productive technology to farm in an efficient, sustainable manner.”
Niemeyer went on to explain that it is important for more farmers to travel to Capitol Hill for discussions of the topics that impact their industry, then talked about his strategy for helping create and maintain opportunities for farmers today.
“First, I have built a relationship with my own Congressman,” he said. “I grew up in Illinois, where I still farm today, and have spent a considerable amount of time with those representing my state here. Yet, as I serve as president of a national organization, I also spend time with representatives from across the country who could impact legislation that would affect farming… The real key is developing relationships that will open doors and help us get our message out.”
Niemeyer notes that he looks forward to continue to take his message to committees that will play a role in the farm bill once hearings begin.