Beenken meets with lawmakers in D.C.

Tyler Beenken of Traer, left, pictured in Washington, D.C. alongside fellow county Farm Bureau leaders Erin Johnson of Bellevue and Darin Axline of Lowden. PHOTO COURTESY OF IOWA FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

A group of more than 30 Iowa farmers, representing 20 county Farm Bureaus, met with Iowa’s congressional delegation July 18-20 in Washington, D.C. to discuss policy issues important to the sustainability of their family farms. Among them was Tama County Farm Bureau vice-president Tyler Beenken of Traer.

The group met with Iowa Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst along with Reps. Ashley Hinson, Randy Feenstra, Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Zach Nunn. They also received updates and visited with representatives from the USDA, American Farm Bureau, EPA and Senate Agriculture Committee staff.

With the current farm bill set to expire this September, the farmers stressed the importance of prioritizing risk management tools and funding for crop insurance and commodity programs. Members shared personal examples detailing the impact of volatile weather on their farms and how crop insurance programs in the farm bill can help the farm sustain disaster.

Buena Vista County Farm Bureau member Jeff Peterson shared how a hailstorm three weeks ago destroyed hundreds of acres of corn and beans. “This is the first time in my farming career that I’ve had hail destroy a crop,” Peterson said. “Without crop insurance, our farm would take a serious hit.”

The contingent of Iowa farmers also encouraged the Iowa delegation to support the EATS Act (Ending Agriculture Trade Suppression), which would block states from dictating agriculture production practices beyond their own borders. Members shared concerns that state-by-state rulemaking on livestock production would crush an already reeling pork market where many farmers are incurring losses.

“There’s not a lot of money in the hog market right now,” said Mindy Amstutz, a third-generation, independent hog producer from Davis County. Amstutz worries about the sustainability of her hog farm for her sons. “If we keep going down this road, we won’t be able to afford to remodel our buildings to meet Prop 12 compliance; there’s just not enough money in the industry to do that.”