There are a few things we know for certain about American farmers.
Farmers are hardworking (4 am comes awfully early, and there are no weekends off).
Given the importance of what farmers do, they don’t make enough money (especially now with commodity prices in the tank).
Farmers are optimistic and resilient (to have your heart broken by a hail storm then do it all again next year is a remarkable thing).
And, farmers vote. Farm families turn out to the polls in good times and bad, where they reward agriculture’s supporters and send powerful messages to its critics.
Our friends at Agri-Pulse just released a fascinating new poll that detailed what’s on farmers’ minds as we head into this year’s election season. And what topped the chart caught our attention.
Selling more U.S. farm product overseas is the most important issue for farmers this time around – outranking even the war on terror, deficit reduction and healthcare.
Not far behind on the list was passing the new Farm Bill, which was more important to farm voters than rural job creation, infrastructure improvements, immigration and lowering taxes.
What makes those two farm-related items so significant is that they are much more likely to be accomplished than the other issues on the list.
It takes a lot less manpower and time to open new markets for corn, rice and cotton, for example, than stopping terrorism. And finishing a Farm Bill that’s already been passed by both chambers in Congress is a cake walk compared to things like passing a new tax cut and repairing the nation’s roadways.
Not to mention, these farm priorities enjoy bipartisan support, which is a true rarity in today’s political world. And they are relatively inexpensive.
The farm policies contained in the Farm Bill account for about one-quarter of 1% of the federal budget, and expanded trading opportunities actually creates jobs, boosts rural businesses and helps raise tax revenue.
So, when the results of the Midterm finally come into focus and legislators come back to DC, there are a handful of items we think should be on the docket because they can be delivered quickly and will make a big impact.
- Pass the Farm Bill without delay.
- Deliver aid for those growers whose lives have been turned upside down by unjustified trade retaliation or the deadly string of hurricanes, flooding and drought.
- Make new trade deals a priority and hold our trading partners accountable for the subsidies and trade barriers that disadvantage U.S. growers.
That is a winning platform for any lawmaker running in rural America – no matter what party they represent.