Hats are in Town
Published: 25 May 2013
A couple of weeks ago, I was honored to be among 15 others from Wyoming attending the annual Public Lands Council Legislative Conference for two days and two days with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Spring Legislative Conference. While I haven’t been back in Washington, D.C. for some years, the mood among some certainly has changed.
These annual conferences are planned for those in the beef business and those who ranch on public lands to visit with their state’s congressional members, their staffs, BLM, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and NRCS personnel along with people from the Farm Service Agency, Food and Drug Administration’s Animal Health division, Animal Plant Health Inspection Service’s Animal Disease Traceability and lobbyists from other ag organizations.
We heard talks on the new Farm Bill from Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Congressman Frank Lucas from Oklahoma. As the Chairmen of the Senate and House Ag Committees, they are certainly power players in agriculture. We heard panels talk on the new immigration bill that were really interesting. Almost everyone said “enforcing the border” had to be the first order of business, and we heard from ranchers who live along the border and how their daily lives are so disrupted as they live in fear of those involved in drug smuggling and human trafficking.
We were welcomed everywhere we went as the word was the “hats are in town,” but the best welcome was from Wyoming’s Congressional Delegation and their staffs. Wyoming was the most represented from any of the western states, both in leadership and attendance. Wyoming has three Congressional members who are very hard working and have staffs who represent Wyoming well. We attended many receptions during our visit, with crowds from as many as 3,000 legislative staffers at a NCBA function that was catered by Outback to a small reception for the Wyoming Cherry Blossom Princess.
Our days started around 7 a.m. and ended well after my normal bedtime. We soon found out that long days are the norm in Washington lobbying.
We also realized that the ag and public land organizations we support do a great job in Washington. If you in the ranching business and you are not supporting them, you are hurting everyone because they work for us all – not just their members. These organizations are respected in Washington and are welcomed through many doors.
Lets face it – Wyoming is viewed as a “red state.” We’re Republican, but we vote for the person; we graze cattle and sheep on public lands; we mine for coal and trona on public lands; we drill for oil and gas on public lands; we hunt, fish and recreate on public lands; and we are proud of it. These days, we’re getting a raw deal from the White House and the new guard that has surfaced in some of the agencies around Washington. Somehow we have to get the town back and have things going more our way. We thank those who fight the fight for us in Washington and at home, and we know they will not give up. We shouldn’t give up either. Time is on our side.