Women in agriculture discuss Industry Challenges in Washington, DC

Every year, American Agri-Women hosts a Legislative Fly-In event to facilitate connection with legislators, agencies and other professionals in Washington D.C. about current agricultural issues and policies. As the nation’s largest coalition of farm, ranch and agribusiness women, many members of the California Women for Agriculture are also members of the AAW, and participate in its annual Fly-In event.

“One of the most empowering things any woman can do is to engage in the legislative process,” said CWA State President Sara Reid-Herman. “Most legislators, and their staff, are genuinely interested in their constituent’s views, and if we aren’t sharing our perspectives and opinions, no one will.”

AAW’s Fly-In event began on the afternoon of June 3 with orientation and a brief run-down of event topics. This year’s area of focus was on trade, the Farm Bill, ag labor and immigration, current distress in the dairy sector, forest management and infrastructure investment. Many government officials, as well as AAW Fly-In participants, discussed these issues in great length throughout the duration of the event.

“As an AAW affiliate, CWA participates in these meetings, offering the perspective of California agriculture and relaying the ideas, opinions and concerns of our members state-wide,” continued Herman. “We also coordinate meetings with the members of the California delegation during our time there to share AAW and CWA views on specific topics.”

An AAW Symposium held at the United States Department of Agriculture kicked off business on Monday with speakers including Janet Collins, Executive Vice President, Science and Regulatory Affairs, Crop Life America; Shawna Morris, Vice President, Trade Policy, National Milk Producers Federation; Sharon Bomer Lauritsen, Assistant US Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs and Commodity Policy, Office of the US Trade Representative, Executive Office of the President; and Jim Purdue, Chairman, Perdue Farms. These speakers shared their thoughts on trade, while Tuesday’s round table discussion with USDA representatives allowed for a more open dialogue amongst participants.

After several meetings and industry-related tours that included a visit to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Republic of Korea, event participants had the opportunity to further network with government representatives at an evening reception featuring AAW’s ‘Champion of Agriculture’ awards. A short meeting with the Department of Interior took place early Wednesday morning, concluding AAW’s three-day event.

“Engaging in legislation can be intimidating, but so rewarding,” stated Herman. “There’s such a huge benefit in understanding issues beyond California, and being a member of the AAW gives us the opportunity to engage in dialogue with those with different experiences and perspectives.”

For more information regarding American Agri-Women please visit https://americanagriwomen.org/, and for more information regarding the California Women for Agriculture, please visit http://cawomen4ag.com/.