During a recent visit with Eaton County Farm Bureau members at Jim and Dennis Orr’s Centennial farm in Charlotte, Congressman Tim Walberg was presented with the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Friend of Farm Bureau Award for his relentless work to support and defend sound agriculture policy.
According to Michigan Farm Bureau’s national legislative counsel John Kran, Walberg received the award because his actions demonstrate how he is a steadfast advocate for the state’s food and agriculture sector.
“During the 115th Congress in 2017 and 2018, Representative Walberg showed support for Farm Bureau policy by voting yes on bills like the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, and the 2018 Farm Bill,” Kran said. “He also fought against excessive regulations like the 2015 Waters of the U.S. Rule.”
While the award presentation was a highlight that afternoon, the bulk of the group’s conversation centered around trade, specifically the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), and the importance of mental health awareness and support given the state of the farm economy and crop conditions.
Walberg emphasized that he wants to see Congress vote soon—early September is his hope—and that some of his Democrat colleagues are also urging Speaker Pelosi to get it done.
“Mexico has passed it already, Canada is ready and set to…and from all I hear and what I’ve read of the bill and negotiations I’m certainly ready to support it,” Walberg said to the group. “I think it (would) really move our economy forward even more. The economy is booming and when you stop and think about it, seven million jobs still need someone to fill them.
“USMCA would help carry on what made America great: certification programs, apprenticeships, associate degrees, leading to a four-year degree if necessary…We need to use what we have here in making things, building things, growing things and achieving what made America great.”
Walberg also acknowledged the recent struggles of the farm community due to weather and crop conditions and offered some words of encouragement and advice:
“I am reminded when I meet with the farm and agribusiness community that they’re all in this together,” he said. “And when we have a tough time as a result of governmental policy, weather, and long-term challenges, you get to the point where you know some of your friends and neighbors are going to suffer and some are going to go out of business. And as anybody who’s used to being productive, self-sufficient and independent, it’s tough to recognize that something out of control brought you down. And that’s why we’ve seen an increase in farm suicides and mental health disorders, substance abuse, family breakdowns. I encourage the ag industry to draw together and do what’s necessary to support and carry on and to help people through those difficult times and hopefully to again succeed in the future.
“And I think that’s the beauty of the ag community that we are family driven and we care for our friends and neighbors — let’s redouble our efforts in that area and lift people up to help them through.”