Christine Cadigan is a manager of public affairs for the American Forest Foundation. The Langes are the 2011 North Central Regional Outstanding Tree Farmers of the Year.
July 20th started typically early for Walt and Donna Lange—except with meetings on Capitol Hill in place of the usual planting and weed pulling. The Langes, who own 32 Ohio acres that help protect the watershed for Lake Erie, came to Washington to represent fellow Tree Farmers.
The morning started out with coffee in Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)'s office, followed by a meeting with the Senator's agriculture staff to discuss how important Farm Bill programs are to the health and productivity of the Lange's tree farm.
The Langes visited Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)'s office to chat with his agriculture staffers on the importance of forestry to Ohio and just how numerous family forest owners—more than 1,600 Tree Farmers!—are in the state.
Yet the Langes most important meeting took place just after lunch. The couple represented Tree Farmers and the American Forest Foundation in a Forest in the Farm Bill Coalition briefing to the Senate Agriculture Committee staff—and they were the stars of the show!
Other panelists included representatives from the National Wild Turkey Federation, National Association of State Foresters, Wildlife Mississippi, and The Nature Conservancy.
The Langes focused their presentation on maintaining support for extension programs, increasing forest owner access to the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, and boosting technical assistance for landowners needing on-the-ground knowledge and support.
Staffers also asked Walt and Donna about Farm Bill programs that the family has used on their Tree Farm, notably Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) thinning projects and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) erosion control projects.
Walt and Donna then wrapped up their afternoon with a trek through D.C.'s blistering, swampy heat to the House side of Capitol Hill. There they met with Representatives Bob Gibbs, Bob Latta and Marcy Kaptur to deliver the 2011 Farm Bill Progress Report and promote forestry in upcoming Farm Bill discussions. Their meeting with Representative Kaptur and staff lasted for more than an hour!
Despite leaving Capitol Hill exhausted and overheated, the Langes were excited by their successful meetings and the Senate briefing, and are looking forward to furthering the fight to give family forest owners a place in the 2012 Farm Bill.
Thanks for all your hard work, Donna and Walt!
To see the complete article: http://www.forestfoundation.org/ohio-tree-farmers-on-capitol-hill