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Rural America Must Be Protected

By Tommy Horton

In one sense, it’s an argument that has been around for as long as any of us can remember. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration. Let’s re-phrase that sentence. Ever since urban populations have increased and encroached on rural areas, many farm residents have openly wondered if anyone in Washington understands their problems.

We raise that point because it seems that there is growing unrest among both Republicans and Democrats that the Obama administration is ignoring the interests of rural populations on several fronts. And there is plenty of evidence to support that assertion. Unless you were living in a cave in the past few months, most cotton producers and industry organizations know that the new administration immediately launched an effort to make wholesale changes in the 2008 Farm Bill.

Now comes word that a serious revolt is occurring within the president’s own party on several legislative packages that would impact farmers across the country. Much of the concern revolves around the Environmental Protection Agency’s active efforts at more stringent regulations, including a limit on greenhouse gas emissions.

At press time, it appears that the House Appropriations Committee did approve a $10.6 billion spending bill for EPA, and several amendments were added to protect ag interests from the reach of some federal climate regulations. The fight, however, goes on between rural and urban interests in Congress. Regardless of a person’s political loyalties, there is legitimate concern among ag groups and rural lawmakers that the current White House doesn’t understand the importance of rural issues.

Nobody said it better than two Democratic congressmen – Rep. Dennis Cardoza, who represents the Central Valley region of California, and Minnesota’s Collin Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. Both spoke out in a recent issue of politico.com.

“They (the general public and White House) don’t get rural America,” says Cardoza. “They form their views of the world in large cities.”

Peterson has more of a pragmatic view of the situation. He contends that it doesn’t matter which party occupies the Oval Office and believes there will always be a lack of understanding on rural issues.

“We’re an urban country, and the White House reflects the majority of the constituency of the country,” he says. “This is the problem we have with everything. Folks don’t understand what we do.”

Therein lies the problem. So, here’s a suggestion for rural America. Keep up the pressure on your senators and congressmen and don’t allow anyone to run roughshod on the interests of today’s farmer. It’s the only way we can protect agriculture’s future in this country.

End of discussion.

If you have comments, send them to: Editor, Cotton Farming Magazine, 5118 Park Ave., Suite 111, Memphis, Tenn., 38117. Or send e-mail to: thorton@onegrower.com.

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