With only about two per cent of our country’s population involved in production agriculture, it’s no surprise that the number of political voices that speak for agriculture, both on the state and federal levels, have also continued to shrink. Politicians and agricultural producers alike are saying that it’s time for agriculture to get more engaged politically. Joe Brown has more in this week’s From The Ground Up.
"Right now our biggest problem that we have in the cattle industry is a lot of the decisions that ‘s being made in Washington. I feel a little bit like a guy hiding in a bush and getting shot at and hoping I don’t get hit."
Bill Thomas is president of the state association of soil and water conservation districts, and says agriculture interests have become outnumbered politically by urban concerns.
"In Harris County, one county out of 254 in Texas, has more representation in Austin than most of Texas from I-35 west all the way to El Paso. "
Washington County State Rep Lois Kolkhorst says agriculture has a few strong voices in Austin, but their numbers are few.
"We’ve got a long way to go to be able to visit bills and hold the line, and make sure that in an increasingly urban legislature, that the rural needs are understood."
Representative Dan Gattis believes it’s important to get agriculture into our education system.
"Where does your milk come from, where do your clothes that you wear, ultimately where does it come from? You know there’s a lot of moms and dads that don’t necessarily understand that."
And ultimately, agriculture needs political help from its urban customers.
"They can live on the 40th floor of some condo in Dallas, or San Antonio, or Houston. They can go play golf on Saturday. They can go to the football game. That’s great, and we’ll produce your food and fiber for you. The only way that society can exist is if there’s a strong agricultural economy."
Rancher Joe Leathers says it’s time for agricultural producers to get politically involved
"We expect a very few people in Washington who are speaking for us to do the whole job, and they can’t get enough places at once, and I’ve proposed several thousand of us going to Washington and having our voice heard."
I’m Joe Brown, looking at Brazos Valley Agriculture, From The Ground Up.