This Story is by Dane Zittritsch, IT Systems Analyst with the AGCO Corporation.
Hard-working farm families. My entire life has been around them.
Coming from Spencer, Iowa, a community brimming with farmers and a horizon rich with grain elevators, I grew up seeing what the agriculture economy means to everyday Americans.
As an adult, I’m now both an owner of a hobby farm and an employee of a global company manufacturing agricultural equipment, the AGCO Corporation. So anything that helps with or impacts the agriculture equipment industry these days is that much more important to me.
That’s why I also like to stay informed about what’s happening with local, state, and federal policies that could influence our industry. This year, before the 2018 midterm elections, it was easier than usual to get informed about those issues.
In May this year, I attended the I Make America Town Hall Tour which made its first official stop at the AGCO Jackson Intivity Center. The tour was part of the Association of Equipment Manufacturer’s (AEM) national grassroots program I Make America effort to engage and motivate the industry’s 1.3 million men and women on the most important policy issues. There were three stops, each with an hour-long, thoughtful panel discussion by experts on agriculture policy, trade, and infrastructure.
Our town hall focused on agriculture. And let’s just say it wasn’t what I expected. It was fun.
The event was really high in energy. It felt like attending a cable TV game show almost. But one where you learn a lot.
For example, before the event I didn’t realize that projected farm income in the U.S. is negative $1,300 in 2018. I also learned that in the last five years the net farm income has dropped 52 percent. That’s just outlandish. Making an income from farming just shouldn’t yield U.S. farmers a negative number.
I also learned there’s not only a lot that we can doing from a policy perspective to improve the situation for farmers, its mission critical that we do for the betterment of the agriculture equipment manufacturing industry. Because a strong farm economy means a strong equipment manufacturing industry.
At the end of the event we were asked what we’d do knowing what we learned after the event. One thing I’m going to make sure I tell my elected officials is to work with bi-partisan support to pass this year’s 2018 Farm Bill. This bill is more than food stamps and farm subsidies. It’s certainty for farmers who need it. It’s stable income allowing them to reinvest in their farms and their equipment.
It sounds like I Make America is going to do more of these events next year. I fully support it. If you work in the industry and the tour comes to your hometown, consider stopping by. You never know what you may learn – or how much fun you could have!