HeartBeat Fall 2017 - Page 9

Office of Rep. Billy Long story, others will gain a better understanding of where their food comes from, what it takes to make it.” The fly-in and Connect experiences have given the young couples the opportunity to network with their peers. “One of the biggest problems we discovered was all of us young farmers are trying to get into the ag industry, but our parents don’t want to discuss with us what the next generation looks like because they don’t like change,” Danny said. FCS Financial’s Debbie Ragsdale said opportunities like these are critical to helping young producers like the Bradleys and Kiehls see another side of agriculture. “It’s really important to have opportunities to network, to see some good speakers and learn more about the financing side of agriculture,” she said. “Financing is a big part of agriculture, and to help people understand more about it is really important.” Not specifically a lobbying trip, the fly-in simply helped Missouri farmers communicate important issues to lawmakers. Farm Bill discussions have yet to begin, so the Kiehls and Bradleys both said equipping lawmakers with key issue information was timely. “We weren’t necessarily asking them for something,” Hannah said. “It was more a trip to make o ur stories known and to let (lawmakers) know what’s needed. That way they can head into the process of the farm bill and be knowledgeable on the issues.” As a farmer-owned cooperative, Danny said he especially appreciates FCS Financial investing in rural communities and providing opportunities like the D.C. fly-in to its members. Jams and jellies from Peck Farm in Sarcoxie, Mo., and meat sticks from Central Missouri Meat & Sausage in Fulton, Mo., were provided during the Farmer’s Market where legislators were welcome to try products representing American agriculture. Additionally, they learned more about the producers of the products through educational posters and visits with Farm Credit team members. Photos courtesy of Farm Credit System. “They’re based around what farmers need, not what’s going to make them the most money,” he said. “That shows that they really care about us and what’s best for us.” Jenny added, “(The fly-in) was an awesome opportunity that we’re probably never going to have again. You can go to D.C. as a tourist, but you can’t really go to D.C. and see what’s going on with government and hopefully have an impact (on legislation) as easily on your own.” HEARTBEAT | FALL 2017 9