My favorite time of year is upon us. Spring is coming to the farm. Every March, the weather turns, days get longer, and there’s a renewed sense of excitement about what’s to come in the months ahead.

I always think of Washington, DC, when the calendar turns to March. Not necessarily for the cherry blossoms that bloom along the famous Tidal Basin, but for the annual Missouri Farm Bureau (MOFB) legislative trip. For nearly 100 MOFB members, our annual Washington, DC, trip offers a comprehensive look at farm policy and our nation’s capital. Our members get to experience this trip as a reward for extensive work on our organization’s annual policy development process.

At the top of our members’ minds is the continued need to craft a strong, updated farm bill that protects crop insurance, ensures a strong farm safety net, promotes rural development, and focuses on common-sense conservation in agriculture. While an extension of the 2018 farm bill is welcome to avoid any lapse in programming, the farm economy has changed significantly since Congress crafted the last farm bill. Farmers and ranchers need an updated farm bill with an adequate farm safety net to effectively manage risk across their farms.

Other critical items are on our organization’s legislative agenda this year. MOFB will staunchly advocate for the extension of many of the individual tax code reforms contained in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, including a doubled estate tax exemption and lowered capital gains tax rate and business deductions, among other provisions. These are set to sunset in 2025 and will need attention from Congressional leaders to stay intact and continue providing needed relief to farm and ranch families.

We also support promoting American energy independence. Sound domestic energy policy impacts nearly every input that agriculture utilizes. Congress should explore ways to promote domestic production of energy and agriculture inputs to alleviate some of the constraints agriculture and other industries are facing. Unprecedented federal incentives and failed energy policies have allowed massive energy projects to take hold, often at the expense of landowners in rural America. Several of these projects seek to remove dispatchable energy sources like coal and natural gas in favor of more unreliable practices that will decrease grid reliability, ratepayer affordability and economic viability.

The fight continues over regulatory oversight, another key priority for farmers and ranchers in Missouri. We are fighting an onslaught of proposals seeking to change the way our industry functions – such as further restrictions on land use and crop protection products and climate risk disclosures.

Our members’ annual pilgrimage to Washington, DC is always a spring highlight. I cannot wait to see our leaders advocating for our member-adopted policies to promote agriculture and the rural way of life in our nation’s capital.