Agriculture is the number one industry in our First Congressional District. In the fertile Mississippi River Delta we grow cotton, rice, corn, soybeans, wheat and even peanuts. In stark contrast to the Delta stand the Ozark Foothills where we have poultry, cattle, dairy and timber producers. Annually, agriculture in Arkansas is a $16 billion economic juggernaut that employees over 260,000 Arkansans.
This week I welcomed members of the House Agriculture Committee to Jonesboro for a Farm Bill Field Hearing. This is one of only four Farm Bill Field hearings in the entire country and a great opportunity for our farmers to make their voices heard before a new legislation is written. Farmers were the very first small business owners. Farmers know what it’s like to project input costs, manage risks and balance a budget. In writing a new Farm Bill, Congress should work to provide certainty that protects farmers from factors beyond their control: high energy costs and burdensome new regulations.
Farmers know the impact of high fuel prices. Diesel fuel is needed to power tractors and combines. Energy goes into producing the fertilizers and seeds farmers use. When harvest time comes, fuel is necessary for harvesting, processing and shipping products from the field to your neighborhood grocery store. When fuel costs rise, farmers feel the pinch more than most. The solution to addressing higher costs is developing a national energy policy that responsibly develops domestic resources. We need to have an “all-of-the-above” approach for federal policy so that farmers can continue farming.
No federal agency better represents the Obama Administration’s war on agriculture than the EPA. Farmers in my Arkansas district live off the land, they raise their families and earn an honest living by taking care of our natural resources. If anyone understands the importance of preserving our environment for future generations, it is certainly the family farmer. With all the challenges our agriculture community faces, they should not have to worry about burdensome new regulations from Washington. As long as the Obama EPA continues its assault on farmers, I will continue to fight senseless regulations that only serve to cripple American agriculture.
Unpredictable weather, an ever changing market place and the continued need for investments in technology make farming a difficult job. Many farm families are just one crop failure away from being out of business. The Farm Bill Field Hearing this week in Jonesboro gave Arkansas farmers a seat at the table and a voice in the conversation of crafting new farm policy. I plan to continue efforts to protect Arkansas farmers so they can keep producing the safest, most abundant and reliable source of food on the planet.