Darren Turley, local farmer and a member of the Erath County Farm Bureau board of directors, traveled to the nation's capital recently to discuss issues of importance to Texas agriculture. 

It was part of the National Affairs Awards Trip organized by the Texas Farm Bureau. 

The farmers and ranchers met with U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, members of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz's staff, U.S. Rep Roger Williams and with U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway, U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee chairman. 

"We focused on three primary issues," said Turley. "International trade, preventing cuts to crop insurance and the biotechnology labeling bill were discussed. We are told all the time that farmers and ranchers have to tell our own story to our elected officials. That's what our trip to Washington, D.C. was all about.” 

Though the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will not likely be considered by Congress in this election year, it's still important to farmers. The proposal means increased marketing opportunities for Texas farmers and ranchers and more jobs added to the economy, according to a new study of the trade agreement. 

"The TPP is going to lock up 40 percent of the world's trade," Turley said. "We can't leave that on the table. It would be leaving the trade market in that part of the world to the Chinese.” 

Turley said the TPP would help boost a struggling agricultural economy. Net farm declined from $123 billion in 2013 to $56 billion in 2015 according to recent studies. It’s estimated at $55 billion for 2016. That downward trend could affect smaller towns in Texas. 

“The margins are always close in this business,” Turley said. “It’s not the first time we’ve experienced tough market factors working against us. However, the impact goes further than the field. It impacts local feed stores, banks, restaurants, grocery stores. It’s really a chain effect in rural areas like ours.”