Frerichs attends White House Rural Champions of Change Meeting
Jason Frerichs, 26, from Wilmot, SD, is no stranger to the political arena. Currently, he serves as the District 1 State Senator and is an active farmer, rancher, educator and promoter of renewable energy in South Dakota. In July, Frerichs was asked to attend a meeting at the White House in Washington, DC for a meeting called White House Champions of Change, where he had the opportunity to visit with President Obama, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and Obama’s Domestic Policy Advisor Melody Barnes.
Frerichs was one of 19 people from across the country who was invited to participate in the meeting and represent rural communities in the discussion. He was nominated by the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) to attend the meeting, and the trip came together just one week before Frerichs boarded a plane.
“While there, my role was to represent the independent cattle producer, as well as to share my perspective as an educator and state legislator,” said Frerichs, who was the only cattle rancher and the youngest individual at the discussion. “My focus was on strengthening competition in rural America. Evidence of this is the success of our livestock auction barns. We also need broadband access in our rural communities that is competitive. Finally, I asked the Administration to give confidence to businesses, entrepreneurs, and young people who want to make a future in rural America and to support us in those goals.”
The White House Champions of Change meeting was hosted by Vilsack, and President Obama visited with the group briefly and spoke with each individual about their priorities.
“President Obama said that he gets tired of people only talking about farming and ranching when the Farm Bill is up,” said Frerichs. “He said it should be in the daily language of DC. When he thinks of trade, he thinks of agriculture products, and when he thinks of infrastructure, he thinks of roads needed to move our products. On another note, I hear too often from elected officials that with good market prices now, that everything is just great. Well, these good cash market prices for the cattle we produce are long overdue. We all know how much we put in to raise the product, and we should receive a fair price. I try to remind these elected officials about the risk that we take in production agriculture each and every day.”
Champions of Change is a White House initiative that recognizes ordinary Americans who are accomplishing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. The event is part of a series of meetings that are being held across the country this summer as part of the White House Rural Council (WHRC) and the White House Business Council to coordinate programs across government and encourage public-private partnerships to improve economic conditions, quality of life and create jobs in rural communities. The goal is to provide investment in rural areas and will coordinate Federal engagement with a variety of rural stakeholders, including agricultural organizations, small businesses, and state, local and tribal governments.
“If we are not involved in the legislative process, someone else will decide for us,” explained Frerichs. “I like to help develop the plan and mold the final outcome. Agriculture has such a wide-spread impact, and yet small decisions could have a lasting effect on our future. Some of the issues we face in rural America today are access to working lands. A true balance needs to be reached with conservation and wildlife interests, along with water location. I hope that healthy discussions about proper water management can be facilitated. I also would like to see Federal Conservation efforts look for a way to keep the land in production and still reap the rewards for wildlife habitat. I’m confident we can strike a balance. Competition for our livestock industry is also extremely important to maintain producer confidence. USDA has been working on finalizing rules through GIPSA that ensure the rights of independent livestock producers are protected. In South Dakota, nearly all of our feeder cattle are sold through a local livestock auction market. When I sell my cattle at an auction market, my neighbors and order buyers from around the country have the chance to pay the top-dollar for my cattle. I applaud the USDA for working towards strengthening this marketing aspect of our farm and ranch operations.”
Each week the President invites leaders to the White House to share their perspective on how to strengthen America. For more information visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/champions.
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