An afternoon on the farm

Hinson learns from women in ag during Tama County stop

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, right, discussed agricultural issues and enjoyed kolaches with area farmer Rebecca Dostal, left, during a visit to Dostal's farm near Traer on Friday, July 22. -Photo by Robert Maharry

On Friday, July 22, U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa) visited with members of the Tama County chapter of Women, Land & Legacy (WLL) on a farm near Traer.

Hinson met with Tama County WLL founder Melody Bro and farmer-member Rebecca Dostal, who opened her farm alongside her husband Calvin. Hinson discussed how WLL helps local women get the resources they need to become the best farmers they can be.

WWL is a locally driven leadership and input organization comprised of mostly women, but men are also welcome. Chapter events address a diverse range of agricultural topics including beekeeping, money management, estates, land ownership and leasing, legal advice, taxes, organic agriculture, soil and water conservation, livestock care, and other important agricultural topics.

The Tama County chapter has more than 20 active members who participate in roundtable discussions. Following each discussion, participants take a survey meant to help guide the planning of future events. Next month’s gathering will address pollinators.

The excitement for beekeeping led Hinson to mention her focus on bringing in the next generation of farmers.

U.S. Rep. Ashley Hinson, front, and farmer Rebecca Dostal, back, watch cattle from behind a gate during a tour of Dostal's farm on Friday. Dostal is a member of the local Women, Land and Legacy group. -Photo by Robert Maharry

“I find it interesting talking about beekeeping. That’s something a lot of people can do outside of regular production agriculture,” Hinson said. “A lot of our conversations center around ‘How to get the next generation of farmers to engage?’ Maybe starting with something like that.”

Women have been farm wives for a long time, but haven’t had to take on the duties of running the farm as their husbands have always been in charge of those duties. Dostal spoke on the challenges women face when they do take on these obligations.

She mentioned a friend whose husband was in a bad accident, and she’s since taken over everything.

“She calls me and she’s like ‘I’m a farm wife. I’m not the farmer.’ And I said, but you can do it. You just have to change your mind. You never know when you don’t have your spouse,” Dostal said. “She’s just trying to help out. She has her sons, but he’s going to be laid up for a while and she’s going to have to do this.”

Another WLL participant praised the organization for catering to all kinds of women in agriculture.

“It’s very diverse. There’s sessions that are targeted toward women who really want to be the farmer, [ones] that don’t want to be, but also women that are non-operating landowners who rent the farm out — because they have a whole different set of needs,” she said. “Most farm tenants are men, so they need to learn how to communicate effectively with the farm tenant and get their voice heard.”

Dostal spoke about one of the biggest struggles women farmers face.

“How do they make their voices heard on conservation practices?” she asked. “If a farmer comes in and takes out all the waterways that her husband put in for years, how do you get that in a lease so they can’t do that or they have to put those waterways back?”

Bro talked about water conservation in WLL meetings, and Hinson voiced her support on the matter.

“That’s an area we’ve done a lot of work on. A lot of our stops have been to look at conservation practices to help with water management. We’ve done a lot of work with the flood center at the University of Iowa and the American Flood Coalition,” Hinson said. “Water management is really important to the longevity of land. Water management and conservation go hand-in-hand. Especially when it comes to federal policy.”

Hinson is excited to see more women joining the agricultural force.

“This is the best kept (not so secret) secret of women’s agriculture. Having seen the camaraderie that exists between women, and even the men, who are involved in this. The programming seems robust and continuingly evolving,” she said. “I think it’s a great win-win for Iowa agriculture. A lot of the areas I have focused on: next generation of farmers including women, conservation practices, farm best practices, taxes. Those are all things their focused on in terms of providing valuable programming to farmers. I’m happy to get out there and talk about how we can help grow the program and get this information to as many women as possible. The program’s high quality, the interest is there and there’s a great opportunity there to get good information in front of a lot of people.”

The meeting ended with a tour of the Dostal farm. Hinson was met with chickens, rabbits, cows, and pigs; along with wrestling kittens and Comet the peacock, who reminded her of their chief of staff, Jimmy Peacock.

In jest, she and members of her staff took every chance they had to get photos of peacocks to send him. Comet did, in fact, show off his fabulous feathers during Hinson’s visit.

Hinson said she places great importance on Iowa’s agriculture, citing her introduction of the Exposing Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act which she described as legislation meant to help alleviate the overregulation of Iowa’s production of agricultural goods — specifically pork — in other states, such as California. The legislation arose partially as a result of California’s Proposition 12 which established minimum confinement standards for certain farm animals and banned the sale of food products from animals that are not raised in compliance with those standards, according to the National Law Review.

Hinson also mentioned her work on the bipartisan PRECISE Act that allows the sale of E-15 blended fuel year round. The legislation recently passed the House and is currently awaiting Senate approval.

To learn more about how to participate in Women, Land & Legacy in Tama County, check out the group’s Facebook page or website: https://womenlandandlegacy.org