Participating in policy

December 3, 2010

Farm policy. Farm environmental issues. Farm legacies. Farm leadership. These were some of the important topics discussed recently at Kansas Farm Bureau’s annual meeting. We’re new members, so this is the first that I’ve attended. It was fascinating to watch ag policy being debated and developed all around me.

I wanted to share these insights. First, comments from Mary Kay Thatcher, public policy director for the American Farm Bureau Federation (loved it that her session started ahead of schedule):

  • 1/3 of the new members have Congress have never served in public office
  • The Republican party has been the “party of  no.'”  “Now, they need to come up with ideas.”
  • We can’t just Xerox the 2008 Farm Bill for 2012. “Bottom line: We don’t have the money to keep this Farm Bill in place.”
  • Ag makes up 2 percent of the federal government’s budget. 75 percent of that 2 percent is for nutrition programs. Those programs are not likely to be cut — 1 out of 8 Americans are on food stamps. So, where to cut in ag? “Every program has a constituency.”
  • Her comments on looking ahead when drafting the 2012 Farm Bill:

Next, comments from Kansas Farm Bureau President Steve Baccus:

  • On increasing world food demand: “By 2050, we’ll need to produce enough food annually to equal the food that has been produced in the last 10,000 years.”
  • “”We are what our parents raised us to be…Feeding the children is the responsibility of the farmer.”
  • “We need to tell others that our food is produced safely.”
  • “We have been trained not to talk about ourselves. But if my parents were here today, they would approve.”

I hope to become more engaged in policy discussions — a topic outside my comfort zone. Here’s a site that should help: http://www.kfb.org/news/washingtontoday.htm.

(Thanks to Kansas Farm Bureau’s Master’s program for coordinating the opportunity to attend.)

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