By Carey Martin, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation
WASHINGTON D.C. - The 40 Louisiana farmers and ranchers visiting Washington D.C. this week are now heading home with a successful lobbying visit to the nation's capital under their belt.
"It turned out really well," said Louisiana Farm Bureau President Ronnie Anderson. "Our congressional delegation was very positive about the issues we've been talking about and they are very supportive of Louisiana agriculture."
Others like Rapides parish farmer Bill Cheek agreed, saying he believes that all of Louisiana's delegation is on board with agricultural issues that affect our state.
"I truly believe that the more information they have from us, the better they can deal with those who oppose us," he said.
Two big issues that farmers brought to Capitol Hill were trade and immigration. Ted Verrill handles agricultural issues for Louisiana 5th District Congressman Ralph Abraham. Verrill said NAFTA is a very important trade agreement for agriculture, especially Louisiana rice.
President Trump understands how important NAFTA is to agriculture, Verrill said.
"NAFTA was signed years ago and a lot of issues have come up since then," he said. "So it is time to fine tune it a bit, but I don't think we're going to see a whole-sale canceling of it."
With Trump administration cracking down on illegal immigration, farmers here wanted to make sure lawmakers understood the importance of protecting and expanding legal immigration programs for season farm workers.
"It is so vital to us to get timely labor," said Kenny Self, who grows sugarcane in Pointe Coupee parish. "With the seasonal nature of the crops we grow, we need seasonal labor to get our crops out."
Self admitted that he is a little nervous about getting the seasonal labor he needs for this year's sugarcane crop.
"It has us all nervous," he said. "We need to make sure we stay on top of it."
The trip was organized by the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation.