We celebrate National Ag Week to recognize the tireless efforts of our farmers and ranchers to feed the American people and a sizeable portion of the rest of the world. It has always been a point of pride for me to represent Nebraska’s Third District, which is the highest producing ag district in the country.
With recent turbulence in the commodity markets, it is important we do everything in our power to provide certainty for the ag sector which underpins our rural economy. For this reason, I was happy Congress passed a five-year Farm Bill including robust crop insurance and a new livestock vaccine bank to help contain potential future outbreaks of disease.
While this is a positive step, I have been troubled by the rhetoric coming from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who may not share our understanding of rural America. Initiatives such as the Green New Deal fit into a pattern of negligence whereby Congressional Democrats are increasingly focused on urban and suburban communities at the expense of rural areas.
Washington seems to have forgotten the months- and miles-long supply chain which leads to the local grocery store. Labels like “factory farming” are disrespectful to our farmers and ranchers who are the best stewards of our natural resources. Modern ag practices are becoming more sustainable and environmentally friendly with each day that passes.
Simply put, it is in the best interests of our ag producers to grow more products using less water and land than their competitors. The crux of what President Trump is trying to accomplish is to enable American industry and agriculture to flex its competitive muscle by leveling the international playing field.
I would put our farmers and ranchers up against those of any other country in the world and expect them to produce more with less resources on any given day. Ag products are America’s number one export; more than energy, aircraft, or auto parts; and any policy changes considered by Congress should keep this fact in mind.
Please remember our ag community and don’t forget to show a local farmer or rancher how much we appreciate what they do. As Co-Chair of the Congressional Rural Caucus, this is a large part of what I hope to accomplish, along with reminding my colleagues in Congress of the importance of ensuring our rural communities have a voice at the table.