Four members of Senator Pat Roberts’ staff toured our farm today to get a better idea of agriculture in Kansas. All four staffers work on the Senator’s agriculture policy and in conjunction with the Senate Agriculture Committee. Each grew up in the farming world but have since made D.C. their home. None had been to Kansas prior to this trip.
This year will mark the start of the writing of the new 2012 Farm Bill. In some ways, the country’s recent budget crisis began the writing process as it required the U.S. Department of Agriculture to cut an estimated $11 billion from its budget – although that is not yet a firm number.
Next week Senator Roberts will take part on a farm bill field hearing in Wichita. He and others involved in Kansas agriculture will speak about their operations and their recommendations for the next farm bill. As part of our tour for Roberts’ staffers, my husband and I pointed out the importance of crop insurance – especially during years such as this – and difficulties of entering the farming profession. Senior staff member Tara Smith said Roberts will make crop insurance a top priority during the writing process, pointing to its ability to keep farmers in the fields after floods, droughts and major storms.
The tour was not a long one, the staffers had other appointments to get to, but the opportunity to speak with the people who help shape a piece of legislation that shapes agriculture is unique and something we definitely wanted to take advantage of. Granted we are only two of the millions of farmers across the country who are also governed by the rules of the farm bill but it never hurts to make your opinion heard and as the agriculture industry has learned, albeit painfully, if you don’t speak up, someone else will speak for you.
I want to extend a huge thank you to Jeff Sutton and Terry Holdron for making the visit happen.