Wednesday at the 2017 Farm Progress Show just got a little bigger: Look for U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on-site, and stop in to share your views on the next farm bill with Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill.
Hosted by the House Agriculture Committee and billed as “The Next Farm Bill, Conversations in the Field,” the listening session will be held at 9 a.m. on Aug. 30 at the Shilling Auditorium on the Richland Community College campus, adjacent to the Farm Progress Show site. All farmers and agricultural stakeholders are invited to attend.
“I hope it’s packed full of good farmers who can share their opinions. Congress needs to hear more good common sense from Midwestern farmers,” says Matt Jungmann, Farm Progress director of trade shows.
In addition to Davis, House Agriculture Committee Chairman K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas; Ranking Member Collin Peterson, D-Minn.; and other committee members will attend the listening session.
“The Farm Progress Show is the nation’s largest outdoor farm event, and I’m excited to host Chairman Conaway, Ranking Member Peterson and other members of the House Agriculture Committee at this year’s event in Decatur,” Davis says. “Agriculture policies set in Washington have a major impact on Illinois’ economy. This listening session will give the committee an opportunity to hear from local farmers and agriculture leaders as they gather input for the next farm bill.
“As our committee travels across the country gathering input from farmers, ranchers and stakeholders, the Farm Progress Show — in the center of the country — seems like the natural next stop,” Conaway adds.
“The committee’s listening sessions allow us to build on the input we’ve already received in Washington by hearing firsthand accounts of how farm bill programs are, or maybe aren’t, working across the countryside,” Peterson says.
Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue will also visit the show on Wednesday. “We’re looking forward to meeting Secretary Perdue. We welcome him in his first visit,” Jungmann says.
What does all of this mean for the show? “It’s going to make Wednesday a huge day,” Jungmann says. And while it’s not out of the ordinary for secretaries of agriculture or members of Congress to visit the Farm Progress Show, Jungmann suspects the congressional ballgame shooting earlier this summer may spark greater security than the show has experienced in the past.
“In the past when we’ve had secretaries of ag and congressmen, there’s been virtually no security,” Jungmann says. “When the president has attended, that’s created significant impact on the operational side.”
He says the last time a secretary of agriculture attended, the staff didn’t need to do much to prepare. “But I know that security is heavier for congressmen than it ever was, so I’m going to expect more security than we’ve had before,” he adds.
What’s it mean for visitors? More opportunities and zero hassle, Jungmann says. “At the end of the day, we’re putting the show on for the readers. The politicians’ needs are second to us putting on a good show for the readers.”