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January 7, 2008 - Be involved in the farm bill process

I’m composing this Samuelson Sez in the headquarters building of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., as far as I’m concerned, the most fascinating city in the world. As often as I come to this city where so much happens, I still feel the excitement of going up to the Hill to visit members of the House and Senate and coming here to the Department to visit with the Secretary about issues that are facing American agriculture.

Of course the issue that is facing America’s farmers and ranchers right now is completing a farm bill. I’m hearing various opinions on when that will happen in 2008, some say as early as March 1st, others say it could be as late as early April. But putting together a bill that will have the impact on America’s farmers and ranchers and the role they play throughout the world is no easy task, particularly when you have different commodity groups and different farm policy organizations with very different ideas on what will make a good farm bill. Add to that the many organizations totally outside of production agriculture wanting input into the farm bill and you should understand why agricultural people must maintain a high profile in the decision-making process.

Now the hard work begins...putting together the bipartisan Conference Committee that hammers out the differences between the House and Senate versions and hopefully coming up with a final version that the President will sign. Yes, it is not an easy task, but I find more and more, members of the House and Senate do appreciate hearing from you, that you need to be involved in the decision-making process, that you need to be involved not only in writing legislation dealing with agriculture, but in writing legislation dealing with other important issues such as energy, immigration and defense.

So don’t for a moment think that your opinion is not important; it is important and only if we as citizens express ourselves to our elected officials will they hopefully be guided to a decision to benefit all of us in American agriculture and throughout the world. So be involved, through your organizations to be sure, but, more importantly, as individuals.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.