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Changing Times

06-14CFcvrNothing puts my mind at ease quite like driving a little stretch of highway between Slaton and Lubbock, Texas, on US 84. Ten miles of unencumbered highway marked by an endless horizon and, when in season, a pearlescent ocean of cotton. God’s Country, as I refer to it; these fields roll on as if trying to find the edges of the earth.

They serve as a reminder of our past, stand in defiance of the changing societal norms of our present, and will hopefully be a mainstay for the future of farming and agriculture in the area for decades more. Agriculture symbolizes everything that makes this country great. Independence, risk taking and a proud sense of accomplishment for the common good are attributes this nation was built on and are attributes that farmers and ranchers live every day.

I want to highlight the hard work and dedication of the men and women that make our agricultural production possible – long days, late nights, stretches of weeks and months praying for rain that doesn’t come, grinding out their living in the soil so that we may have clothes to wear and food to eat. These farmers often do not receive the recognition and praise they deserve. When you consider the harsh weather, waning resources of our state and nation and trouble competing with the appeal of more urban job markets, our farmers and ranchers persevere through incredible adversities. Their distinct work ethic and strong family values are a beacon in the spiritual warfare being waged on the traditional values of this nation. The faith needed in the agricultural industry is the same faith that will lead the country back to the absolute truth found between Genesis and Revelation, where all answers to the problems of today and tomorrow can be found.

For rural areas like West Texas, where generations have been exposed to cotton farms, ranching and agriculture most of their lives, the virtues of an agrarian-based lifestyle abound. Agriculture is arguably one of the most evolutionary industries. Unfortunately, this way of life is under attack. Due to the exponential growth of technology and shifting cultural viewpoints, agriculture has been forced to evolve whether those in the industry like it or not. Without this evolution, Texas would not be the leader in agricultural commodities like cotton that it is today. In the case of agriculture, government regulations of the agriculture sector and our system of free market capitalism provide challenges to an industry with more than enough hardship.

Our farmers and ranchers also face challenges from numerous other fronts. In the more populous suburbs and cities, you will find people have had little, if any, educational emphasis on the agricultural heritage of this country. This lack of education on the importance of agriculture is one of the reasons for the decline of the agriculture industry. The urbanization of our farm land, the ever increasing need for water and the globalization of our food supply are also major threats to the industry that must be recognized.

When discussing the future of this country, we usually focus on job creation, dependence on foreign oil, economic growth and a long list of other issues that typically don’t include the most important topic: keeping our people fed and clothed as populations rise and the number of farming operations decline. As citizens of this great nation, it is time we stand for the God-given liberties being taken away from us ever so subtly, usually in the name of the “public good.‰ I will continue to do my part to advocate for the agriculture industry in my district and across the state. With a little help, we can ensure that those rolling cotton fields continue to stretch toward the horizon.

– State Rep. Charles Perry Lubbock, Texas (806) 783-9934