You can’t blame Washington politicians for worrying about two big events that threatened to impact the city in early March. One was the potential effects of a sequester on the country’s operating budget, the other, a gigantic snowstorm threatening to dump a foot of snow on the city.
As it turned out, neither had a negative effect on the National Alliance of Independent Crop Consultants’ annual trek to Washington D.C., to put on its 16thannual Crawfish Boil on the Hill, held in the Longworth Building Cafeteria, on the evening of Tuesday, March 5.
Over 300 congressional leaders, staffers, representatives from USDA and others attended the buffet-style gathering featuring Cajun favorites, boiled crawfish and crawfish etouffee. No one talked politics at the event. It was simply a place and time for everyone to relax and get to know one another better.
“It’s all about building relationships, noted Ray Young, NAICC member, who has attended all of the annual crawfish boils.”
Earlier in the day, NAICC members fanned out on Capitol Hill, visiting House and Senate agriculture committee members and their staff, communicating agricultural issues, potential legislation and how it may impact farming interests.
NAICC also met with USDA officials on issues involving insect and weed resistance management, according to Blaine Viator, former NAICC president and Louisiana consultant. “We were encouraged because we were asked to come by Harold Coble. (an agronomist and weed scientist with USDA’s Office of Pest Management Policy, who was a weed science professor at North Carolina State University for 30 years).
“The NAICC and CropLife (a trade association representing the crop protection industry) have been asked to address board members of some of the basic manufacturers to see what can be done to help improve resistance management in all of the disciplines without regulatory issues.”
“We had a lot of good meetings,” added Young. “When you start talking about a farm bill, congressmen usually say there’s many other things out there, and that it is going to be taking second place to those issues, but they are somewhat encouraged that we are going to get a farm bill. We talked to guys with the Senate and the House.”
NAICC members had two meetings with EPA officials regarding National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits for the use of FIFRA-registered pesticides. Several bills to eliminate the NPDES permit are under consideration in Washington.
“We were a little apprehensive about that meeting, but it turned out pretty good,” Young said. “They want us to come up with plans, and they want us to do it voluntarily. I thought that was very encouraging. Louisiana is working on nutrient management plan with Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, who appointed a task force for developing a nutrient management plan.”
Guests at the crawfish boil included, Stephen Johnson, former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Brandon Willis, newly appointed administrator of USDA’s Risk Management Agency, Rep. Rodney Alexander of Louisiana, Rep. Javier Sanchez of Minnesota, Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado, Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio, Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi and Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina.