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ARA Fly-In Moves the Needle in Washington

Mar 19 2024

With a farm bill still in limbo and elections looming, the conversations between lawmakers in Congress and ARA members during the recent Fly-In were pivotal as the association continues to advocate with one, unified voice representing ag retailers at the federal level. 

In 120 meetings with Congressional offices on both sides of the aisles, more than 90 ARA members and industry partners emphasized the need for policies that preserve critical crop input supplies and precision ag technology, modernize transportation infrastructure, and support – not hinder – ag retailers in their role in maintaining a secure food supply chain.


About Fly-In Day

On ARA Fly-In Day, attendees separate into 19 regional groups and meet with their elected officials to emphasize the policy priorities, which were established in the previous day’s committee meeting by the membership to address the top challenges facing our industry, especially the districts in which they operate.

“I had a wonderful time at ARA’s Winter Board Meeting, held in conjunction with fly-in visits on Capitol Hill,” said ARA Board Chair Amy Asmus with Asmus Farm Supply. “Not only did I get the opportunity to catch up and network with our members at the committee and board meetings, but I was also honored to stand next to all of them as we ascended on the Hill to advocate for ag retail, our customers, and partners. I am truly proud to be a member of such a powerful association!”



The ARA Fly-In is held in conjunction with the Winter Board & Committee Meetings, which provide members an opportunity to network and share ideas related to ARA public policy efforts as well as conference planning, member services, and more. ARA goes the extra mile by inviting regulatory officials to share timely updates on recent and anticipated regulatory action as it relates to our industry. USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production & Conservation Robert Bonnie and EPA Office of Pesticide Programs Director Ed Messina addressed ARA members.

The Impact

Lawmakers want to hear from their constituents who wield the power to vote them in and out of office, not just from the experienced public policy staff with ARA. While some in the U.S. House and Senate are already onboard with ag-friendly policies, others have little knowledge about the value ag retailers provide to farmers and their communities. That is why it is so important for ag retailers to get involved in grassroots advocacy to speak as one unified voice. 

“Attending the ARA Fly-In was a profound and memorable experience for me,” said ARA Board Member Ernie Roncoroni with Grow West. “Spending a full day on Capitol Hill meeting with multiple Congressional offices from my area in California underscored the intersection of policy and practice and emphasized the importance of these visits between industry and government. I will definitely be back next year!”

When elected officials hear directly from ag retailers in face-to-face meetings about common-sense solutions for our industry, it impacts their decisions on Capitol Hill.

The ARA Fly-In paves a path for productive, educational conversations between the ag retail industry and the decision-makers in Congress far beyond their discussions on Capitol Hill.

“These conversations on Capitol Hill could not have come at a more opportune time for a 2024 farm bill,” said ARA Senior Director of Public Policy Hunter Carpenter. “Many legislators and their staff shared their frustration with the lack of action surrounding a new farm bill, noting the importance of ensuring a safety net for farmers in this legislation. ARA members will continue to lean on both chambers on and off the agriculture committees to swiftly pass a five-year farm bill.”

The Scoop Podcast hosts ARA's Hunter Carpenter to discuss 2024 public policy priorities addressing the top issues impacting ag retailers.


The Next Step

Building trust between rural America and Washington is a crucial part of ARA’s advocacy approach. The momentum established during the ARA Fly-In will continue as ARA members take the next step in effective grassroots advocacy by inviting their elected officials to tour their facility and see firsthand our industry’s commitment to safety and stewardship. 

To set ag retailers and suppliers up for success, ARA has developed the Congressional Facility Visit Guide with best practices, media samples, and a step-by-step process to hosting an educational visit. Last year, several ARA members set up facility tours for their legislators not only showcase their business operations, but also to establish themselves as a trusted resource for the decision-makers in Congress.


Join ARA

Only ARA members possess the power to steer the association's public policy priorities. If you're not yet a member, join ARA to amplify our industry's collective voice so that it is heard loud and clear by the decision makers in Washington. Ag retailers, suppliers and distributors join ARA not only to strengthen our advocacy efforts, but to leverage member services that increase their bottom line.

Submit an online application or contact ARA's Donnie Taylor at or 202-595-1725.