Sunday, August 16, 2015

Save the Farmer

A number of years ago I bought a bumper sticker that proclaimed “To Heck with the Whales, Save the Cowboy!” (No, it did not say heck but in the interest of keeping my editor happy we will go with this version) I bought it because it made me laugh and because I agreed with the underlying sentiment. It does seem like those of us in agriculture whether we are farmers or ranchers are an endangered species. Think about it our numbers are drastically down from historic averages and our habitat is shrinking. It sure sounds to me like we meet all the criteria.
I guess that is what Representative Ken Buck of Colorado thought too because he introduced legislation stating just that. His bill also asked that $50,000 slated for bonuses for EPA administrators be redirected to start up a study on just how endangered those of us in agriculture are. No he doesn’t really think this will pass, in fact it won’t even see a vote because the money set aside for the bonuses cannot be redirected to a study that has not gone through the approved channels, but it is the thought that counts.
Representative Buck’s thought behind his legislation is that all of the government regulation, especially those of the EPA are making it increasingly harder, especially on smaller farmers and ranchers to survive.  One only has to look to the recent disregard for private property rights and public outcry because of the EPA’s recent actions on the Waters of the United States for an example.
OK, I know some of you are irritated that this bill was introduced because it is another example of the contentiousness of politics in D.C. and just a waste of time. I guess you are somewhat right because Representative Buck knows this bill has no chance but he is making a great point that needs to be made. Those of us in agriculture are increasingly overburdened by regulations imposed by agencies such as EPA. Those increased regulations making more difficult and more expensive to produce food, driving many of us out of business.
I really think Representative Buck may be on to something here and I like the irony even more. The Endangered Species law in one that is especially burdensome. If you don’t believe me, just ask any farmer or rancher who has the misfortune of trying to grow food on the lesser prairie chicken’s habitat. The redirecting of administrator bonuses just adds another funny twist too. But there should be no worries on the EPAs part because just like their enforcement of WOTUS on the Ag community, this won’t happen either.
I do think the classifying of farmers and ranchers as endangered does make sense. Then we could stake out critical habitat and place severe restrictions on anything that might interfere with farming and ranching on those acres. More money could be allocated for the protection of existing farmers and ranchers and to insure that their populations increase. New programs could be started to reintroduce agriculture in places where it had disappeared from.
Keep all of this in mind next time you are driving down the highway and see a farmer in their field or a rancher moving cattle. Pull over, grab your binoculars, take a picture and wake up the kids because you are witnessing a rare sight. Maybe we can get the Sierra Club to take up our plight or better yet we can start up our own organization and for the cost of a cup of coffee cable television viewers can help stave off the extinction of America’s farmers and ranchers.
Yes, this is all tongue-in-cheek but it does have merit and makes a good point. We all rely on farmers and ranchers daily, no matter what we all have to eat. Agriculture is the most important industry in the United States and we have to be allowed to do our jobs without constant and unnecessary government regulations, common sense needs to prevail.
Representative Buck’s proposed legislation provides for some laughs but it should also be thought provoking. More importantly maybe it will get the attention of some of the government officials (I know, but we can still hope can’t we) or at least make a statement. Yes, it will never see the floor or be voted on but we can all still have hope. He does plan to rework it and introduce the same legislation later. In the meantime, let us all take up the mantra, “Save the farmer!”

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