Collin Peterson, former Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, recently retired from Congress after thirty years of service to America’s farmers and ranchers.
His retirement was short-lived.
“I’m not very good at being retired,” he quipped on the most recent episode of Farm Policy Fact’s Groundwork podcast.
Collin Peterson is utilizing his decades of farm policy expertise to once again tackle the challenges facing rural America.
“One of the biggest challenges continues to be getting people from urban areas and suburban areas to better understand what we do in agriculture and to better understand the rural areas,” Peterson said.
Farming and ranching are not only a critical part of our nation’s economy but maintaining a strong ag sector and an affordable and abundant supply of food is key to national security as well.
With less than two million farmers in a nation of 330 million people, Peterson understands that there is a lot to do to ensure the everyday American understands the importance of ag. Importantly, he’s willing to do the work to lay that groundwork to support strong farm policies.
And that starts with Congress – particularly, the House Agriculture Committee.
“We have a lot of new people on the [House Agriculture] Committee, and we have a lot of them that don’t have that much farm background,” Peterson said. “We just have a lot of education and a lot of work we have to do.”
Peterson pointed to agriculture’s unique ability to unite people from opposing sides of the aisle. No matter whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, we all need to eat. It’s farmers and ranchers that feed, fuel and clothe our nation.
And there are a number of key issues affecting ag that will come up this Congress, starting with the implementation of the latest COVID-19 relief bill. Congress may also begin considering the next Farm Bill, a critical legislative vehicle for strengthening the farm safety net.
Rural America will also play a role in the ongoing conversation about climate change. As dedicated stewards of the land, our farmers and ranchers have already spent decades investing in ways to make their operations more efficient and more sustainable.
Any climate-smart policies proposed by Congress need to be backed up by science and need to be economically sustainable as well.
Peterson says that it is critical that rural America’s voice is heard in this debate.
“[We need to] get in front of that and make sure that whatever [Congress and the Administration] end up coming up with is something that producers can actually work into their operations,” Peterson said. “I think people are willing to do their part, but it has to be something that is practical…It’s something that’s workable. It’s something that’s sensible.”
With so much on the line, we are grateful that Peterson is not quite ready to retire.