September 1, 2023

Christina Weller
District 2


Whether I am advocating for a client or advocating on behalf of an organization I am part of, advocacy is a tremendous part of my life! My name is Christina Weller, and I am a partner in the law firm of Elliott, Trainor and Willman, P.C. in Freeport, Illinois. In July, I participated in Leaders to Washington to advocate for issues currently affecting the agriculture industry. This was my second time participating in this program. As evidenced by the participation each year, I and many other young agriculturists believe in the value of this program.


Leaders to Washington is a program that Illinois Farm Bureau developed to have its members meet with their representatives and senators, as well as various embassies, governmental agencies and other groups in Washington D.C. We tell the stories of our local farmers, many of whom are our neighbors and friends, and discuss issues they are dealing with on their farms and in their communities. While I did not grow up on a farm nor live on one now, I developed a passion for agriculture at a young age by visiting my extended family’s dairy farms in central California. I joined FFA in high school and competed in prepared public speaking as well as several Career Development Events. My passion for agriculture has influenced my career, as I help farmers resolve legal issues and plan for the futures of their farms through succession planning.


Each year, Leaders to Washington participants focus on various issues, both new and old. This year, we focused heavily on advocating for the upcoming Farm Bill. Our first day started off with the participants traveling to Washington D.C. We had the rest of the day to explore Washington D.C. as we wanted. The morning of day two we met as a group in the hotel to have briefings regarding current issues we wanted to discuss at our various meetings with representatives, senators, congressional staff, and others. During the afternoon, we met with the Waterways Council regarding the repairs and building of locks and dams. In addition, we met with President Biden’s senior advisor for public engagement, Will McIntee, at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to advocate for the Farm Bill. We also discussed Prop 12, trade agreements and drought concerns affecting most of Illinois. On day three, we traveled to the Capital. We spent the day meeting with our representatives and senators. I met with Eric Sorensen, my district house representative.


Our last day was spent at the United States Department of Agriculture. We met with employees from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Risk Management Agency (RMA), and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Our group acknowledged the positive contributions  each organization has on the agriculture industry, but we also gave ideas on ways each agency can improve and help with farmers’ concerns. For many of us, the afternoon was spent traveling home.


Leaders to Washington is not only educational, but heavily focuses on advocating by telling your story. I highly recommend each member take the opportunity to go at least once. Illinois Farm Bureau usually takes two Leaders to Washington trips each year: one in March and one in September. Please contact your county manager for questions regarding registration or additional questions.