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Sue's Views: Making the case for Morris

It's good to be home.

I recently traveled as part of the Barnes-Aastad Soil and Water Conservation Research Association to Washington, D.C. My traveling companions were Dean Meichsner, Dan Perkins and Jim Wink. We spent four days visiting congressional and administrative offices in support of the USDA Agriculture Research Service and specifically the Soils Lab in Morris. This trip has been conducted annually by volunteer members of Barnes-Aastad for over 50 years.

But now I'm home and happy to be here.

Don't get me wrong, I love visiting Washington, D.C. and the weather this year was awesome. The daffodils were in full bloom, and there were crocus and apple blossoms everywhere. And there are so many things in Washington that you just never see in Morris, including a presidential motorcade, C-SPAN cameras and crab cakes on the menu.

There were also several people who seemed to be living under the railroad bridge near the hotel and one very adamant protester who beseeched me to "REPENT" every time I walked up C Street towards the Rayburn House Office Building.

Washington D.C. is a strange and wonderful place.

But the reason we were there was to remind Congress why agriculture research is important. So we met with staffers from a dozen different offices to tell them about the good things going on in Morris. This is no small feat, as it is what the staffers refer to as "Appropriations season" on the Hill. Once the President's budget is released, all of Washington is in a frenzy to see how the Administration's request will affect their issues. Then, congressional committees start marking up the 12 individual appropriations bills. It's the Appropriations Committees' job to decide which programs to fund and which to cut. In the process, various and sundry groups such as the Barnes-Aastad Association, show up in support of specific items in the budget, such as agriculture research.

This is my tenth trip with Barnes-Aastad and I am in awe of the process still. First, this is nothing like the Schoolhouse Rock version of how the process works. Second, it is amazing how many people you can fit into a congressional office, hallway or cafeteria. Third, if you don't make the case for what you want, no one else will.

That is exactly why I go and more specifically, why I am glad to be home.

Agriculture is important to Morris and west central Minnesota. Not just for the farmers and agri-businesses, but for all of us who live here. And ag research means that those who produce the commodities that feed and clothe us are able to use science-based knowledge to deal with the growing population and our increasing appetites.

And I'll gladly hoof all over D.C. to tell anyone who will listen why Morris is such a cool place as long as I get to come back home and enjoy everything I just bragged about. It is as good to be here as I told everyone it was.