Farmers learning in Washington D.C.

(Photo: Iowa Soybean Association)

Deadline approaching for Iowa-Missouri Policy Leaders Fellowship

July 24, 2023 | Jeff Hutton

Gaining insight into how government and the legislative process works, leadership and advocacy skills are all part of the Iowa-Missouri Policy Leaders Fellowship (PLF).

The PLF is currently looking for applicants for the upcoming 2023-24 class.

This program allows participants to explore and better understand challenging U.S. agricultural policy/regulation and how it intersects with ag production and the value chain. It’s also designed to empower farmer-to-farmer learning and will equip participants with the necessary knowledge and skill set to advocate on behalf of agriculture and the soybean industry.

Among the core tenets of the PLF experience, participants:

  • Network and socialize with fellow producers, industry professionals and key decision makers;
  • Build a foundational understanding of the legislative and regulatory process;
  • Engage policymakers to advocate on behalf of the ag/soybean industry; and
  • Develop and strengthen personal leadership skills.

“Politics/governance is not a spectator sport,” says Iowa Soybean Association (ISA) Senior Director of Public Affairs Michael Dolch. “A single ill-conceived bill or regulation can significantly impact a farmer’s freedom to operate and their bottom line. Through a learn hard, play hard approach, the PLF will give participants the opportunity to network with Midwestern farmers, Fortune 500 leaders, industry professionals, and state and federal policymakers.”

Programming schedule

PLF participants plan to meet on the following dates in 2023-24:

  • Aug. 24-25, Jefferson City, Mo. – Iowa and Missouri Kickoff
  • Dec. 18-19, Des Moines – ISA Annual Policy Conference
  • Jan. 23-24, 2024, Des Moines – ISA Biofuels Summit and Legislative Reception
  • Feb. 28-March 2, 2024, Houston, Texas – Commodity Classic
  • July 2024, Washington, D.C. – ASA Board Directors meeting and Capitol Hill visits

Raising soy priorities

Recent PLF participants recommend farmers participate in the program.

“PLF joined the American Soybean Association (ASA) directors during discussions with Iowa representatives/senators about the importance of passing the new farm bill and how it directly impacts the Iowa farmers,” says Lisa Obrecht of Zearing. “We traveled to Washington, D.C., to communicate those matters. Learning those best practices for conveying our message was key to successfully establishing long-lasting relationships.”

The program concludes with the trip to Washington, D.C., where farmers meet with ASA directors and learn about national soy priorities.

“I learned more about the process of deciding which issues to talk about on the Hill by going to the ASA forum,” says Neil Krummen of Linn Grove.

Fellowship with farmers is central to the program, Krummen says.

 “It was also a good time to catch up with our Missouri counterparts and talk about how their crops are doing and if anyone is trying new practices or conservation tools on their operations,” he says.

The future of American agriculture depends on sound public policy and the development of leaders who share an appreciation for the legislative and regulatory process, according to Dolch. Further, legislators often say that hearing from their constituents—including farmers—means the most.

 “As farmers, we need to keep in touch with our elected officials and make sure our voices are heard and that they realize the impact on our farms, families and future,” says Marilee Jones of Sheffield, noting the importance of being involved in local, regional, and national politics.

PLF participant and ISA farmer member Laura Tirado of Walford says involvement in the program made her more aware of the legislative process.

“D.C. is where laws get passed but to see that to fruition you need a lot of people with a lot of effort,” Tirado says. “ISA, ASA and others are working hard to address concerns before next year’s planting season and that’s wonderful.”

Deadline approaching

Those interested in participating should click here and fill out an application. Deadline is Friday, Aug. 4.

One applicant in good membership standing will be selected from each crop reporting district in Iowa (9).