Editor’s Note: Farm Credit has an active internship program for students who are interested in pursuing a career in agriculture. This series of blogs is written by our 2017 marketing interns, Morgan Figgins and BreAnn Fields. It will be featuring agvocates around our area monthly.
We all know Farm Credit supports farmers and ranchers right here, in your local community. But did you know they also have a presence in Washington, D.C. and our state capitals? As MidAtlantic Farm Credit’s government affairs officer, Kurt Fuchs is able to support the agriculture community while using his knowledge of politics.
In his previous position with Maryland Farm Bureau, Kurt was introduced to Farm Credit and the work they do with local farmers and their communities. “I really enjoyed interacting with Farm Credit employees involved with Farm Bureau and through programs like LEAD Maryland. I admired their mission and how they went about fulfilling it,” says Kurt. He knew that becoming a part of the Farm Credit family would provide opportunities to expand his role in policy and government affairs, while continuing to advocate for agriculture.
Through middle and high school, Kurt worked on his grandparents' dairy farm. “That’s where I really began to appreciate the industry,” says Kurt. He knew from the experiences he had on the farm that he wanted to be involved in agriculture and politics. Kurt graduated from Western Maryland College, now known as McDaniel College, with a degree in political science.
Kurt came on board with Farm Credit in 2012. Kenny Bounds, a former Farm Credit employee and current Deputy Secretary of Agriculture for the state of Delaware, created the role through his efforts working with legislators, community members, and industry supporters. Kurt stepped into the position as Kenny transitioned into another role within MidAtlantic.
“I want to make sure that we are building relationships with legislators, whether it be at the local, state or federal level,” says Kurt. Some of Kurt’s responsibilities include going to D.C. and visiting with legislators and their staff. “We need to let them know who we are, what we do, and why we do it,” says Kurt. By reinforcing the mission of the Farm Credit system through, visits, phone calls and even emails, it helps them understand why Farm Credit is a necessary part of the agriculture industry.
Kurt likes to invite legislators on farm visits with him. “It’s a really effective way for us to showcase agriculture and our mission,” says Kurt. “If the legislator going on the farm tour is interested in a certain part of the industry, we will look for a customer who can highlight those aspects effectively.”
A hot topic right now is the 2018 Farm Bill – something that heightens the importance of these customer visits and legislator meetings. “Given the current ag economy, it’s imperative that we have a farm bill that passes in a timely manner,” says Kurt. The big issues being discussed right now are maintaining a strong federal crop insurance program, modernizing FSA loan guarantee programs, improving access to agricultural labor, and fixing the Dairy Margin Protection program. House and Senate Ag Committees have been holding Farm Bill hearings in Washington and across the country in preparation.
Although it’s still early in the process, “it’s never too early to talk about issues impacting the agriculture community and Farm Credit when you are interacting with your legislator,” says Kurt.
One thing that Kurt stresses when visiting with a legislator or their staff, is to practice the three P’s – be positive, personal, and purpose driven. “Whatever you are talking about, it’s important to emphasize that it impacts a real person, their business, and their family,” says Kurt.
As Kurt continues in his position as MidAtlantic Farm Credit’s government affairs officer, he’ll continually strive to ensure we have legislative and regulatory environments where our borrower-owners and Farm Credit can thrive.