To say our current political climate is heated might be a bit of an understatement. Rallies, marches, protests and movements have become standard responses to new proposals, directives and congressional action. We have become a nation divided and all too eager to express our disapproval and discontent with actions and noise.
Marches and protests create powerful visual reminders of the beauty and complexity of democracy, and social media provides us an easy outlet to vent our anger and point fingers of blame. However, all too often these actions are not followed by solutions. Movements die from a lack of direction, lawmakers bypass the heavy lifting of legislating, and those on the ground move on to the next fight.
We are never short on anger but seem to always lack a viable solution.
To look at change initiatives and political movements that have been successful is to find organizations and individuals armed with passion, focus and, most importantly, a deep understanding of the required change. These groups do not rely on passion to propel action but deliver plans and proposals to legislators and decision-makers.
Sadly, it’s no different in the agriculture community. Each and every one of us involved in farming is perfectly capable of playing Monday morning quarterback, identifying holes in commodity programs and weaknesses in crop insurance. Hindsight is 20/20 and finding problems is the easy part.
Regrettably, solutions are not so simple. Many who complain will not follow with a solution because that’s a step they are unwilling or unable to take. We don’t have the time, energy or know-how to dig to the root of the issue, research the decision-makers and assemble a response that is both applicable and logical. We know this from our daily lives, our family conflicts and our current market conditions. Surely if someone knew the answer to boosting commodity prices and opening markets, they would have shared their secrete by now. But that cannot stop us from arming ourselves with proposals and plans of action.
As Congress begins debating the components of the next farm bill, producers across the country will have the opportunity to give their input and opinions on current programs and practices. Members of Congress want to hear those concerns, but more importantly they want to hear solutions and steps that can be taken to ensure the next farm bill is effective and impactful.
Farmers and ranchers can and should be ready to provide solutions to failed programs. We are the people caring for the land, driving the combines and sitting at the FSA office. We know the impacts of commodity programs and EPA regulations. Many of our commodity organizations are already taking this step, but they want to hear from their members and producers. It’s in their best interest and ours to get it right and craft a farm bill that promotes and protects the interests of the entire agriculture community.
We don’t have to look far to find movements ignited by passion but handicapped by a lack of purpose and solutions. The next farm bill and agriculture’s ability to drive change will be wholly dependent on our willingness to do the work, dig deep and deliver solutions.
Katie Sawyer and her husband, Derek, a fourth-generation farmer, raise crops and cattle in McPherson County. Katie serves as district director for Rep. Roger Marshall. She and Derek are raising two sons, Evan, age 3, and Owen, age 1, hundreds of cows, four horses, three dogs and one feisty cat. Follow along with the family’s farming adventures at newtothefarm.com.