More than 100 agricultural retailers, distributors and suppliers were on Capitol Hill Tuesday for the Agribusiness Congressional Fly-in.
Hosted by the Agricultural Retailers Association, the fly-in garnered participation from ARA members from across the country and several national and state agribusiness groups.
"Grassroots advocacy matters," said ARA President and CEO Daren Coppock. "This is an important opportunity for our members and stakeholders to put agricultural policy issues in front of their federal legislators."
Delegations of retailers and suppliers visited with more than 160 members of Congress and/or their staff to discuss key policy issues including regulatory reform, rollback of the Environmental Protection Agency's Risk Management Plan final rule, elimination of the duplicative National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Pesticide General Permit and components of ARA's pro-growth economic agenda such as tax and healthcare reform.
"I had a great day," said ARA Chairman Tim McArdle, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Brandt. "We had a record number of meetings overall and I felt that the members and staff we met with were open and receptive to what we had to say."
Participating state organizations included the Florida Fertilizer and Agrichemical Association, Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association, Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association, Kansas Grain and Feed Association, Missouri Agribusiness Association, New York State Agribusiness Association, Ohio Agribusiness Association, Texas Ag Industries Association and Wisconsin Agribusiness Association.
"This is one of the few times everybody gets together - the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, CropLife America and The Fertilizer Institute - and goes to the hill," said Kevin "KJ" Johnson, Director of Government and Industry Relations for the Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association. "We try to hit every Illinois delegate, and we bring all of our board members. It shows how ARA is helping Illinois ag retailers and our issues, as well as showing how all the national organizations are collaborating."
State and national groups - including ARA, BIO, CLA and TFI -- concluded the day with a reception on Capitol Hill for Congress members and staff.
"We had positive conversations," said John Ivison with Helena Chemical Company, who was attending his first ARA-hosted Fly-in. "Anytime we can promote agriculture, it's good to have a receptive audience."