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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New Chairman In Senate Ag Committee

Last week's appointment of Arkansas Senator Blanche Lincoln may be seen as progress in Agriculture's pursuit of fair representation in Congress. Being a constituent from Arkansas, I have long been familiar with Senator Lincoln. And knowing that she grew up in the middle of Arkansas' farming community gives me some comfort that she does know what difficulties farmers face in today's economy. Although I do not agree with all of her decisions made during her time in Congress, I do see a new appointment as an opportunity to encourage bills that will favor the Ag communities. Any politician in a new appointment is more than willing to make decisions that will favor their respective constituent communities.

Beef Magazine ran a recent article commenting on her appointment. In reference to the formation of a Farm Bill that will favor the Ag community, Lincoln was quoted as saying:

“It’s not only important in terms of process – and that we don’t let that process break down – but … it’s also for the people who are being ruled and regulated by the laws we create. It’s basically a contract with production agriculture and gives them with some … guidelines for a period of time. (Farming) is a very, very volatile industry with ups and downs caused by a multitude of things: disastrous weather, the marketplace, trade (and) input costs.”

Farm bills provide producers “consistency to be able to make business plans over a period of time. They know they’ll have good years and bad years. But to have something they can predict in terms of what the government environment will be for them is really critical.”

Asked about the USDA changing the definition of an “actively engaged” farmer, Lincoln was dismissive of the agency’s current approach. “I thought it was well defined in the bill. If nothing else, (USDA) should certainly be doing it in consultation with (the Senate Agriculture Committee). If (the USDA) is confused about our intent, then they should work with us … so it’s done correctly.”

I may not be a big proponent of government control of our daily operations, but it is good to see some enthusiasm in favor of our interests coming from Congress. Take this opportunity to remind the Senate Ag Committee of the issues that are important to America's farmers and ranchers.