Grower Advocates, Navigating Unprecedented Times, Push for Bipartisanship

Grower Advocates, Navigating Unprecedented Times, Push for Bipartisanship

By Brooke S. Appleton

As I recently sat in my car in 90-plus degree weather, blocked by traffic caused by the NATO meeting in Washington, my mind kept moving from song to song.

One minute, I was hearing the 1981 hit “Under Pressure” and the next I was thinking about Diamond Rio’s 1991 country tune “Meet in the Middle.”

One could argue that these songs were buzzing in my head because of the pressure of being stuck in traffic for over an hour during a heat wave. But I am convinced it had more to do with the political climate in Washington, which is highly partisan and continues to present one unprecedented event after another.

As of this writing, we have 52 legislative days left before either chamber of Congress adjourns for the year and one presidential campaign is on shaky footing after the debates while the other still reels from legal issues. Overall, the city is quickly moving into campaign overdrive with the upcoming Republican Convention. Besides the Presidential rat-race and the veep stakes, it’s tempting to turn focus entirely into planning for post-election outcomes and next year.

Yet, there is so much important work to do before Congress adjourns. We need a farm bill passed that is comprehensive, and, on the ethanol front, we are pushing for movement on the Next Generation Fuels Act and passage of legislation to allow for year-round consumer access to higher blends of corn ethanol.

We also have numerous trade issues to deal with, including a need to address and prevent burdensome tariffs and work to cultivate new foreign markets for corn growers.

And the chorus sings: “Pressure pushin’ down on me. Pressin’ down on you. Under pressure.”

To make matters more complicated, there is growing uncertainty about who will receive the Democratic nomination. Several elected Democrats have indicated that they are losing confidence in President Biden after a recent debate performance that raised doubts about his viability as a candidate.

So far, the president has resisted calls to step aside, but the Democratic Party could be heading toward a brokered convention this summer. While it would make for exciting television, such a development would complicate our jobs as corn grower advocates. It’s hard to develop a comprehensive plan on how to sell our policy agenda when we don’t know to whom we will sell it.

So how do we move forward?

We are soldiering through the uncertainty and focusing on progress on our pending priorities with those who are currently in charge. Elected officials know the calendar is tight, but they must hear from us that our items are urgent, and we need them to act. We want them to feel the pressure!

Next week, we will lead hundreds of corn growers through the power corridors of Washington to meet with members of Congress and agency officials. Our message: We need Congress to act on our priorities.

We are also sending representatives to both political conventions where we will hold events and talk about the value of corn. And we are engaging in an aggressive digital advertising campaign airing in Washington and key battleground states. The ads talk about the many contributions of corn growers.

Most importantly, no matter where we go or who we meet, we will continue to encourage bipartisanship as a means of securing legislative wins.

After all, the manual for navigating tumultous times was included in a song three decades ago when the political environment was, well, more predictable:

“We’d gain a lot of ground ’cause we’d both give a little. And their ain’t no road too long When we meet in the middle.”

Appleton is vice president of public policy at the National Corn Growers Association.

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