At the 118th American Farmers and Ranchers state convention in Norman, Oklahoma, Farm Director KC Sheperd sat down and talked with National Farmers Union President Rob Larew about the Fairness for Farmers campaign and the 2023 Farm Bill.
“Oklahoma is really kind of legendary in the youth programming that they have got going on here,” Larew said.
Larew also talked about Oklahoma youth who were given the chance to travel to Washington, DC, to be part of the NFU Young Leaders.
“These leaders that we are getting from Oklahoma and other states are just right for doing a lot of things,” Larew said. “Not even on a national scale but being able to make sure that these leaders are as impactful on the local levels that they are at the state, and hopefully national levels as well.”
The NFU Legislative Fly-In that took place in Washington, DC, this September, Larew said, was a great success.
“This was a chance to get back and really stretch our legs more,” Larew said. “This year was different too because we went directly to a lot of those agencies that you don’t typically think about with a fly-in for farmers, and that is like the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, U.S. Trade Representatives office, all those folks. If it impacts farmers and ranchers in those rural communities, we wanted to make sure that they heard from farmers union members.”
Going forward, the biggest issues the NFU will be tackling for 2023, Larew said, will be farm bill related.
“One of the big campaigns we have been doing for the last year and a half or two is ‘Fairness for Farmers,’ which is really about restoring competition to the ag markets out there,” Larew said. “We get a lot of attention on cattle markets, but we know that is the case with equipment manufacturers, you know, the rest of livestock, and really, in the totality of the ag space, there are too few players out there, and that just drives up the cost for farmers and gives them too few options and really ties their hands in some cases.”
The Fairness for Farmers Campaign has made significant headway, Larew said, on educating consumers on the fact that just because they are seeing higher prices in the grocery store does not mean it is translating to the bottom line for farmers and ranchers, and there is need for more opportunities for farmers.
“Consumers want to know more information out there,” Larew said. “Farmers want to be a partner in that.”
Larew is grateful to have Congressman Frank Lucas to be helping with the writing of the 2023 Farm Bill, as he is a strong advocate for agriculture.
“You can’t ask for a better friend to be in the room writing a farm bill in the best interest of farmers than Congressman Lucas,” Larew said.
With leaders representing rural areas few and far between, Larew said it is critical to have individuals like Congressman Lucas fighting for agriculture.
“Beyond that, part of our job as farmers and ranchers is making sure that those who aren’t rural also know about why it is so important to support farmers and make sure that they can stay on the land and do what they do best,” Larew said.