Trade remains one of the key policy issues debated in Washington, DC, with tariffs and trade agreement negotiations in the headlines virtually every day.
Enhancing trade for agriculture, starting with approval of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, is Land O’Lakes’ top policy priority this fall and continues to be a focus of our efforts on Capitol Hill and with the Administration.
Recently, Member Relations Senior Director Glenda Gehl added to the momentum with a unique speaking opportunity – appearing alongside industry and USDA officials at a National FFA Organization forum in Washington.
In addition to more than 200 FFA members at the “#SpeakAg Dialogue” event, Gehl’s fellow panelists included a key Administration trade official – USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Administrator Ken Isley – as well as USDEC President and CEO Tom Vilsack, and leaders from the National Corn Growers Association and National Farmers Union.
“Many know us as a dairy co-op, but we’re more than just butter – we’re a farmer-to-fork agribusiness and one of America’s largest member-owned cooperatives,” Gehl told the audience. “This gives us a broad view of the agriculture sector and we are certainly seeing how tariffs and trade disputes have created uncertainty in the countryside. It’s why our members are so engaged on trade, participating in dozens of meetings in Washington just this year. Trade is absolutely critical for America’s farmers.”
Gehl also received an ovation from the crowd of FFA’ers when she pointed out her special connection to the organization – and one important way it has changed over the years.
“FFA means so much to me as a former member, and I am proud to have three children who are FFA members, including my daughter who earned her American Degree,” said Gehl. “We can also all be proud of how many women are in the audience and serving as advisors. When I was in FFA years ago in Slinger, Wisconsin, women weren’t able to become officers in our local chapter. Now, nearly half of all FFA members are women, and women hold approximately 50 percent of state leadership positions. We can be proud of that.”
Gehl’s leadership on trade issues at the forum builds on the steady drumbeat of advocacy led by Land O’Lakes on this issue. Working together, so far this year the Government Relations team and member-owners spanning our cooperative have held more than 150 meetings with Congressional and Administration leaders to push for open trade. These efforts continue every day as we push for Congressional approval of USMCA, negotiation of new agreements with nations like Japan, and an end to tariffs affecting our industry.