Healthcare, the Farm Bill and Disaster Relief Front and Center in D.C.
This September. MFU members and staff joined nearly 350 Farmers Union members for a day on Capitol Hill and briefings from the USDA. The MFU delegation also met with Senator Tester, Senator Daines and Congressman Gianforte. The group encouraged support of improving farm programs, protecting crop insurance, increasing access to credit, Medicaid expansion, the current system of tax credits and removing legislative and regulatory barriers to higher blends of ethanol like E30 to allow for a transition to a clean higher-blended ethanol fuel.
The issue of access to healthcare was a topic of great concern by the Montana delegation who attended the Fly-In. MFU Board Member Jan Tusick addressed her concerns on healthcare with Congressman Gianforte during a sit down with the group. “The issue of market place needs to be addressed,” said Tusick. “We all know health care costs have increased dramatically so something needs to be done.”
The need for access to telemedicine for rural community hospitals and protections for pre-existing conditions were also discussed.The group also asked the delegation to consider ways to better manage forests to prevent fires and asked for disaster assistance.“Participation in the Fly-in is part of our commitment to provide legislative representation and education to our members,” says President Alan Merrill. “We are pleased to have such a dedicated team joining us to champion for the interests of Montana farmers and ranchers.”
In addition to congressional meetings, delegates attended a National Farmers Union briefing with the USDA which included a visit from the Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Anne Hazlette, the Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development.The delegation also presented the Golden Triangle award, NFU’s highest legislative honor, to Senator Jon Tester and Senator Steve Daines.
“The Farmers Union Fly-In is an important part of NFU’s ongoing grassroots advocacy efforts,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.” Family farmers and ranchers are the best advocates we have for agriculture, and the NFU Fly-In is often the best opportunity for our members to advocate.”
MFU members who attended the Fly-In were Tom Clark of Fort Benton; Brett Dailey of Jordan; Ben Peterson of Judith Gap; Scott and Misty LeFurgey of Loma, Jan Tusick of Polson and Kelly and Lance Rutledge of Big Sandy. President Alan Merrill and Director of Communications Lyndsay Bruno accompanied the group.