*This column was originally published in the Fall 2014 issue of Kansas AgLand. For more from that issue, log onto www.kansasagland.com.
If you’ve watched even an hour of television this fall, you’ve noticed the steady stream of political ads. Yes, the number of commercials has decreased with the primary election now over, but the pitches, partisan finger-pointing and political promises continue and will only ramp up again as we inch closer to the November general election. Sadly, commercials are a part of our modern political climate, and just because you don’t enjoy the smear tactics doesn’t mean you should abstain from politics altogether.
Lawmakers have their hands in nearly every part of our society and livelihood. They are responsible for water-use regulations, tax policy and transportation rules. Say what you will about politics and politicians, but the truth remains that those who represent us in Topeka and D.C. hold the future of our farms.
Nearly every agricultural-based organization sets policy to guide its support or opposition to proposed legislation at the state and national levels. Crafting policy can be an effective means of guiding political action, but it’s not the only step farmers and ranchers should be doing to ensure lawmakers aren’t dimming hopes for future prosperity.
When the polls open for primary and general elections each year, farmers and ranchers should be among the first in line to cast their votes. Voting is your way of expressing your support for a particular politician or political party. It’s the vehicle by which you can play your piece of the democracy game because you know those waging war against farming are already plotting their moves.
We’ve already witnessed the powerful role politics plays in passing a farm bill and allowing farmers flexibility in animal production. The listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken to the threatened species list will no doubt affect farmers and ranchers in western Kansas. Legislative action will be essential in minimizing the impacts on the agriculture industry. Those wanting to end animal agriculture and stifle our right to decide which seed and inputs we use on our farms will be at the polls this fall. The agriculture industry must show up as well.
You can waver on the candidates, but the decision to vote should never be something you question or dismiss. Politics at the local, state and federal level has played, and will continue to play, a vital role in shaping farms and ranches across the country.
We all know we must continue to fight the battle of public opinion, but we cannot forget the political war taking shape across our country.