The annual trip is a decades-old tradition, timed while Congress is in session and before the spring planting season begins.

This week, about 100 Ohio Farm Bureau members will travel to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress on top agriculture issues and get educated on topics such as health care reform, global markets, and trade and food safety rules.

At the top of lobbying and education lists this year is the farm bill. A new five-year bill made progress in 2012 but only passed the Senate; the House didn’t vote on its version. Instead, the 2008 farm bill received an extension to Sept. 30, 2013.

“It was very close last year. Now we’re dealing with an extension, a stop-gap measure,” Ohio Farm Bureau spokesman Joe Cornely said. “It seems to be the default position in D.C. to kick the can down the road. Farmers need a permanent farm bill. Like any business person, they have to plan years down the road. They won’t invest until they know the rules of the game. Farmers are smart people. They can figure out how to operate within the rules.”

Farmers understand the era of direct payments is over, Cornely said.