Purdue Extension educator Burbrink assists with Obama town hall meeting

June 02, 2016

Purdue Extension educator Burbrink assists with Obama town hall meeting

When organizers of a town hall meeting with President Barack Obama in Elkhart needed people in agriculture to be in the audience, they went to Jeff Burbrink, Purdue Extension agriculture and natural resources educator in Elkhart County.   

They knew he had strong local connections in his work, so they asked him to bring several representatives of the agriculture community to the meeting that was held Wednesday (June 1). He brought dairy, beef and swine producers; a row crop farmer, a fruit and vegetables producer; and a conservationist. They were among about 100 people who met with Obama at the Lerner Theater.

The town hall was broadcast as a PBS NewsHour special program and was moderated by Gwin Ifill.

Two people who Burbrink brought to the meeting had the opportunity to ask questions of Obama.

Fifth-generation fruits and vegetables grower Bill Kercher, a Purdue graduate, expressed concern to Obama about increased federal regulations, which “affect all aspects of our business.” He wanted to know how young people can be encouraged to be small-operation farmers “when the barriers to entry are higher than ever.” 

Obama said his administration wants farmers to succeed but conceded that some regulations have hindered small businesses such as family farms. He said regulations that have not worked well need to be reviewed and possibly eliminated.

Local famer Dean Rink told Obama he is spending 22 percent of his income on health care in the second year of the Affordable Care Act, known as ObamaCare, even though his subsidy has been decreased and his income has been about the same.

Obama responded to Rink that his subsidy should not have decreased if his income stayed “more or less the same” unless there was a significant change in his tax status. The president said he would “try to find out about that.”

Burbrink said someone met briefly with Rink immediately after the program to get more information from him. “So it looks like he will get some assistance,” Burbrink said.

Burbrink was honored to play a useful role in the town hall gathering. “It was very interesting, a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” he said.

Purdue Agriculture, 615 W. State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-8391

© 2015 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Agricultural Communication

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact Agricultural Communication at agweb@purdue.edu.