The Legislative committee just returned from DC and the following is a report of their visit.
Legislative Committee DC Trip
Recently five members of the Legislative Committee and one guest NACS member traveled to Washington, D.C. to conduct legislative business on Capitol Hill. John Gehrke, Bardell Faux, Robert Parris, Brandon Waldron, Greg Koerner, and I were able to meet with 27 total congressional offices on Wednesday, April 22, 2015. McAllister & Quinn scheduled meetings that focused on key House and Senate Ag Committee members, as well as Appropriations Committee members.
Highlighted visits included the offices of Rep. Michael Conaway (TX), Chairman of the House Ag Committee; Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI), Ranking Member of the Senate Ag Committee; Senator Mitch McConnell (KY), Senate Ag and Appropriations Committee; Senator Pat Roberts (KS), Chairman of the Senate Ag Committee; and Senator Thad Cochran, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The hill meetings focused on promoting the success of Farm Loan Programs and efficiency in which we are able to convert congressional funds into a large economic impact in rural America. We also continue to push for an increase in direct loan limits to keep pace with recent increases in land and input prices. NACS members are quick to point out to congressional members that any potential increases in loan limits must be supported with an increase in appropriations so that we are not decreasing the number of farmers and ranchers who may need our credit.
We also continue to promote the repeal of term limits on direct borrowers. FSA's borrower "churn" data continues to reflect the strong graduation rates among our direct loan customers. This churn data, along with credit deserts and/or access to credit issues and even the ability of an applicant to make themselves appear credit worthy, continue to be the leading factors in support of the repeal of direct term limits. The Department is to provide Congress with a report in mid-2015 focusing on data that we believe will support the elimination of these term limits. McAllister & Quinn and NACS will monitor this report. A large number of offices we visited were interested in the findings of this report.
Additionally, we stressed the importance of maintaining an adequate level of Farm Loan Programs' staffing in the field in order to continue to provide superior customer service in the area of supervised credit. Expected retirements in the next 5-10 years will be a challenge for our agency and we continue to hammer home the point with Congressional offices that proper staffing and training must be areas of focus.
Andy Quinn, John Gehrke, and I also were able to make time to meet with several ag partners in Washington D.C. Late on Wednesday and on Thursday, April 23, 2015, we met with key congressional relations staff of American Bankers Association, National Sustainable Ag Coalition, and National Young Farmers Coalition. We aimed to find common ground on legislative efforts that we can support each other on in the future.
Continued media training was provided by Jill Colgan of McAllister & Quinn. Of course no trip to DC would be complete without some good food. The group stayed out in Tyson's Corner, VA and was able to enjoy a couple good evening meals and plan and reflect on the hill visits.
NACS and Farm Loan Programs are well received on Capitol Hill and we know we have a tremendous story to tell. I thank all those who were able to attend and commend them on their efforts. We are in the process of following up with multiple congressional offices on information requested during our visits. I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in St. Louis for National Convention.
Ben J. Herink, Chairperson
NACS Legislative Committee
Don't forget to send in your registration and make your plans to attend the national convention in St. Louis! Registration is due by May 29th!!!!!
LeAnn is a Farm Loan Chief from New Mexico. She was elected NACS President at the June 2019 Convention.