Is Washington Listening?

By Ronnie Hopper
Petersburg, Texas

For the past decade, our goal has been to apply no-till farming practices to our land located in the Pan-handle region of the South Plains of Texas. Overall, no-till has worked in our operation, but it also has inherent challenges which vary with each new year.

No-till works for us because we now have the technology and tools that allow us to nurture our crops while controlling weeds, insects and disease. With this said, conventional tillage with deep plowing and cultivating still continues to be the most popular choice for producers in our area.

Thousands of U.S. farmers are proving that no-till works on the farm, and while we have been busy caring for the land, we have often neglected our duties to oversee those who represent us in Washington. We have failed to voice our opinions and have failed to cultivate the relationships necessary for sound governmental policy. In the absence of the voices of common sense, voices of nonsense are heard. No-till works on the farm, but no-till does not work in Washington.

We in production agriculture have a unique perspective because we work directly under the forces of Nature – all the while knowing that no person stands “toe-to-toe” with Mother Nature. Despite our best efforts to produce crops, nature gives the increase, and nature has the final say. Measuring performance in government is more difficult. Just as the “farmer’s foot is the best fertilizer in the field,” our “foot” in Washington is also necessary.

During the past 20 years of travel to Washington, I have come to realize that I understand Washington better than it understands me. In my efforts to help Washington recognize some of the problems we face in agriculture, I discovered that there are many in political leadership and the media who should speak less and listen more to the taxpayer – the one paying the bill.

Answer this question. When you are in a hole and want to get out, what is the first thing you must do? STOP DIGGING. Washington and America are in a very deep hole, and Washington is still digging. Does it appear to you that Washington wants out of that hole? In defining this issue, our government is spending well beyond its means. Some leaders believe the solution is to raise taxes on the “rich”– those who are most able to pay.

Becoming a millionaire was once a goal to which many aspired. It was the American Dream. But today, according to the government and national media, millionaires didn’t really build their businesses or earn their money; they cheated those who were less fortunate.
Millionaires are now expected to share more of their wealth with the federal government, yet they will have little say as to how it will be spent. Will it be wasted? My banker requires me to be accountable to him for the funds that I borrow. If we as taxpayers are the bank-ers to the federal government, should they not be accountable to us?

We are in a fierce battle during this election season, and the turmoil will not cease after the November election. I wonder if our nation has lost its vision. In defining this issue, it is not that we have an absence of leadership, but rather we have an absence of statesmanship. I have never understood why politicians roll their shirt sleeves up when they come to give us a zip code speech. Is that a signal to the public that they are willing and ready to work for us? Frankly, I am insulted.

Common sense tells me that “actions speak louder than words.” If political rhetoric could solve problems, our troubles would’ve been solved many years ago. The problems we face – energy, taxation, immigration, military, Social Security and Medicare – are not going to be resolved without bold leadership. Solutions to problems come from the Creator through men and women of vision with a comprehensive plan. Then the work begins!

– Ronnie and Nena Hopper, Petersburg, Texas

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