Yates discusses the role of AFBF in Washington D.C.
Published on March 21, 2020
Cheyenne – American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) Managing Director of Public Policy Ryan Yates provided attendees of the annual Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers Conferences an update on the happenings in Washington D.C. as well as an overview of the role of AFBF in Washington, D.C.
Yates is a native of California with a deep-rooted background in agriculture. He has a degree in agriculture business from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo.
“I got really involved in natural resource policy when I started working for the House Natural Resource Committee,” he said. “There, I worked on a number of issues including forestry, land use and wildlife.”
“I have been working on these issues for far too long. They are great issues and are of great importance to the people of Wyoming and the West,” Yates said. “At AFBF, we have eight full-time lobbyists who work tirelessly on the many issues that affect farmers and ranchers every day.”
Yates noted these issues include water issues, tax policy, wildlife issues and farm policy, among others.
“These are issues that affect farmers and ranchers every day. Unfortunately, there are members of Congress who are unfamiliar with these issues and put their hands in things they shouldn’t,” he explained. “Our lobbyists do their very best to keep these members of Congress straight and educated on the issues affecting farmers and ranchers.”
State of affairs
“To start, Washington, D.C. is a very weird town,” Yates noted. “There are people from all over the country trying to pedal ideas, half of which aren’t very good.”
He continued, “There are also more attorneys per capita than anywhere else in the country. So, what that means for us is there are a lot of people in D.C. with the potential to directly impact our business with something as small as a minor change in definition.”
“Small things can have large consequences,” said Yates. “Our job is to work in a variety of areas to affect change and advocate of behalf of the agriculture community.”
“I’ll be the first one to say we have had a really great run with this administration,” he said. “We have had more access in this administration than we ever did with Obama or even the Bush administration.”
He continued, “While Bush was great to work with, Trump really understands the importance of rural issues, even though he may not really understand the issues themselves. He values rural America.”
Yates applauded the placement of people with agriculture backgrounds into leadership, such as Sonny Perdue, who is one of only a handful of Secretaries of Agriculture who is an actual farmer.
“Sonny does a really great job and I appreciate having someone who has actually been involved with production agriculture,” he said. “I also think David Bernhardt at the head of the Department of the Interior and Andrew Wheeler leading the Environmental Protection Agency have been great choices for Trump.”
“We are really in a great place right now, and I can’t speak highly enough of the level of access we have with this administration,” he said. “I won’t say we agree with everything they do, but for all intents and purposes, we are feeling very good about whereAFBF stands on the regulatory front.”
“I think we all know the general state of Congress at the moment,” Yates joked. “But here in Wyoming, the citizens are blessed with a great delegation, full of great people.”
He continued, “I absolutely cannot speak highly enough of the Wyoming delegation. They are great people and we need to keep sending people like that to Congress. The trouble is, they are less than a fraction of one percent of the 535 members of Congress.”
“This is where organizations like Farm Bureau are so important,” he explained. “We have the ability to work with delegations from other states to push forward issues. We can carry our message regionally.”
“Though we may always be outnumbered by other state delegations like California, states such as Utah, Idaho, Colorado and New Mexico share a lot of the same issues as Wyoming,” he noted. “Our ability to work with state and county Farm Bureaus, as well as congressional delegations is the way we can promote change and get Congress to do what we want.”
Callie Hanson is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.