By Bobby Frederick, Vice President of Legislative Affairs and Public Policy
During a normal spring and summer, NGFA and its members are zooming through the halls of Capitol Hill to meet with legislators, grow relationships with congressional staff, and advocate for key industry priorities during one of the association’s two annual fly-ins to Washington, D.C.
However, with the nation’s capital still under a stay-at-home order and access to the House and Senate office buildings highly restricted, NGFA is “zooming” between video meetings and phone calls with legislators.
This week, around 20 NGFA and Nebraska Grain and Feed Association members participated in Zoom video conferencing session with Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb. The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss with the congressman COVID-19’s impact on the grain, feed, processing and ethanol industry, and included topics ranging from biofuels to livestock and trade.
Smith also provided an update on congressional negotiations over a potential fourth COVID-19 recovery package, in which legal liability protections for employers, policies to maintain continuity of the critical infrastructure businesses and the workforce, and aid to state and local governments are expected to be among the most highly debated topics. Congressional consideration of such a package is likely still many weeks away.
Currently, Congress still is providing oversight to ensure the first three rounds of COVID-19 legislative relief are being implemented as effectively as possible. The House will be in session next week to consider bipartisan legislation aimed at providing flexibility to users of the Paycheck Protection Program, including relaxing the requirement that 75 percent of the loans be directed solely to payroll, as well as providing businesses more time to pay back these loans [See previous article in this newsletter).
NGFA’s four Nebraskan Committee Apprentices participated in the video conference with Smith. Part of their 2020 Committee Apprentice Program (CAP) experience involves learning different strategies for advocating for industry priorities. Rep. Smith told the CAPs that hearing constituent perspectives is productive for both he and his staff, and urged them to continue telling their story.
The NGFA appreciates the accessibility of so many members of Congress and their staffs, including Rep. Smith, and will continue to involve NGFA members in these video calls.