We cannot afford any animosity within our own ranks. It is fodder for our foes. It is an excuse for policymakers to cut up what remains of the farm safety net. It is a deterrent for recruiting the next generation of leaders on Capitol Hill and beyond.
Farmers face a lot of risks the rest of us don’t. And given the capital requirements of farming today, each of these risks has big financial consequences.
We have a strong foundation for cultivating the next generation of farmers in the 2014 Farm Bill, but the law needs to be fully implemented for any of this to matter. Although it is on the books for five years, it is likely to be under attack during the annual appropriations process.
Sometimes it seems like farm policy critics are stuck in the past, using the same old set of talking points for every congressional debate instead of taking the time to update them to reflect the real reforms that are underway.
In times like these, Washington should be applauding the agricultural community for the contributions it has already made, not working to make things even harder by jeopardizing the one thing farmers should be able to count on: the just-passed farm safety net.
The critics of farm policy are so desperate to be relevant in a town bent on reform that they continue to gin up so-called news stories where none exist, using outdated numbers to point to issues long ago corrected. Poor L.A. Times for taking the bait recently and printing propaganda, instead of real news.
But, this presents a valuable opportunity to educate the critics on farm policy and the many changes that have taken place throughout the years.
Let us explain.
“The farm – best home of the family, main source of national wealth, foundation of civilized society, the natural providence.”
One will find these wise words inscribed on the façade of Union Station in Washington, D.C. The historic site was built around the turn of the century when the nation was experiencing progress of every kind. There was industrial capacity, oil production, telecommunications, a major transportation system in the form of railroads, and most importantly, there was agriculture. The U.S. had established itself as a major agricultural producer on the world stage not only because of newly invented tools like mechanical reapers that improved crop harvests, but also because of westward expansion, which increased the diversity of American agricultural production.
Today, more than a hundred years later, that quote still captures the essence of American agriculture and its importance to the progress and success of our country. American agriculture remains diverse; it remains a source of national wealth and the pride of American families.