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Remembering A Meeting With Gov. Perry

We certainly don’t try to endorse presidential candidates here at Cotton Farming. We figure that farmers can make thoughtful decisions in these matters – whether it’s a presidential election or a race at the local level.

However, as we continue to witness the Republican presidential debates and wonder who will finally emerge next summer as the candidate from that party, I couldn’t help but remember the summer of 1995.

That’s when I met Rick Perry for the only time in my life. I was attending a National Association of Farm Broadcasters regional meeting in San Angelo, Texas. At the time, I was still working for the National Cotton Council, and it was important for the NCC to have a good working relationship with farm broadcasters. They have and continue to be an important media outlet for the NCC to convey messages to the ag community.

At this particular meeting, our group was enjoying an outdoor barbeque dinner after sunset. It had been a sweltering day in San Angelo, but the weather was pleasant early in the evening. During dinner, I sat next to an affable man who was the current Texas Commissioner of Agriculture….none other than Rick Perry. He was completely at ease talking to the broadcasters and was intently interested in hearing about the problems that Texas cotton producers were having that year. He also was at ease as he gave numerous radio and TV interviews that evening.

I can’t tell you for sure that we thought he would ascend the political ladder and someday be governor of Texas. But most of us who sat around that picnic table in the summer of 1995 knew that he had the potential to climb the ladder. Quite frankly, it was nice to hear an ag commissioner who seemed to have the respect of Texas farmers. He understood how tenuous the profit margin was for a farmer every year, and he knew how important it was to have a level playing field in the global trade arena.

Rick Perry made a favorable impression on the ag media that afternoon, and many of us speculated whether he would someday aspire to higher office. He may or may not become the Republican presidential nominee, and he may not be elected president. But he knows all about ag policy and the challenges that confront farmers.

For that very reason, a lot of farmers will be voting for him next year. Regardless of his stance on other issues, it is always nice to run across a political figure who understands the problems that confront farmers.