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Archive for Monday, January 7, 2013

Kansas farming landscape changing in Washington

January 7, 2013

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Kansas farmers who have been weathering an epic drought now must also deal with a stormy forecast from Congress.

In recent weeks, U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, has waged a political battle with U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. The fight has made Huelskamp a darling of tea party Republicans but has gotten him ousted from the House Agriculture Committee.

And then U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas was pushed aside as the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee.

Roberts remains on the committee but relinquished his role as ranking minority party member to U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., who asserted seniority privilege on Agriculture after having been dropped as the top Republican on another committee.

Terry Holdren, general counsel of the Kansas Farm Bureau, said Roberts' demotion resulted from Senate rules and probably will not affect his influence on the committee and agricultural legislation.

"We are confident that on the Senate side of things, Kansas producers will have a voice and continue to be heard," Holdren said.

But Holdren said Huelskamp's removal from the House Agriculture Committee is a "distasteful" problem. He said the best way for a congressman to influence legislation is by working on it at the committee level. "No longer having a Kansan on Ag is concerning and unfortunate," Holdren said.

Since statehood, Kansas has almost always had a a representative on the House Agriculture Committee. Now that there isn't one, Holdren said Kansas farm interests will have to reach out to other committee members who may have similar Kansas-type issues in their home states.

He said Huelskamp's removal from the committee has stirred up political talk in the district, commonly referred to as the Big First. It is a heavily rural agricultural district that covers 69 counties, stretching from the western Kansas border all the way to Manhattan and Emporia.

In the eastern part of the district, Holdren has heard "some dissatisfaction" with Huelskamp, while the congressman, starting his second term, remains more popular farther west.

Huelskamp has said he was removed from the committee by the House Republican leadership because he stood for conservative principles and that he has been overwhelmed with calls and emails in support of his stands.

John Pendleton, a Douglas County farmer, said he didn't "wring my hands" over Huelskamp's ouster, but he is generally dissatisfied with much of what is happening in Washington. "It's almost sickening how polarized both ends are," he said.

Pendleton said one of his challenges is finding enough time to stay involved with local and national politics that affect agriculture while also trying to keep his farm going. "Even though commodity prices have been good, income is still not at a point where you feel like you can take time off to be involved with activities off your own farm," he said.

But big issues affecting farmers will be front and center for the new Congress, including crafting a farm bill. A trimmed-down, nine-month extension of the 2008 farm bill was approved as part of the "fiscal cliff" bill last week, but farm state lawmakers were not satisfied with it.

"The farm bill process is one of a number of things that you can put in the category of government activities that need to happen so that producers have some certainty," Holdren said.

Comments

cowboy 1 year, 7 months ago

This group of congressmen , senators , and governor have done more damage to the representation of Kansas than any others have done in the last 100 years.

Influence is important when representing the citizens of Kansas. This clown posse has taken themselves voluntarily out of the game.

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Hadley_says 1 year, 7 months ago

I'm thinking that those affected by Hurricane Sandy aren't really going to be too concerned about subsidies for Kansas agriculture, and our four congresspeople.

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Catalano 1 year, 7 months ago

Or any county in Kansas that gets hit by a tornado in the next few years.

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poolside 1 year, 7 months ago

Until they need commodities to eat.

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gccs14r 1 year, 7 months ago

A whole lot of what we eat comes from overseas already. A lot of U.S. corporate ag is for industrial feed or is otherwise inedible.

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Jonathan Fox 1 year, 7 months ago

If you'd like to allow crop prices to reach market sustainability, good luck affording food. I'm thinking you'd rather continue having high income families and corporations paying for the subsidy.

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 7 months ago

Farm subsidy is welfare and should be stopped. If I went into any business, say selling computers, there is no one that has my back. I take my cash invest it into that business and it is sink or swim. God love the farmer, but he chose that career path, hung out his shingle and it is not up to us to pay him good or bad just as it is not up to the taxpayer to pay me if I fail.

All of this has to stop. The empT is another example as is the new library. These services should be in the public sector and stand on their own merits. If they can not stand by themselves then there is a very good argument that they are not really needed. Things that are needed are supported by customers. Obviously a grocery stores are needed as are gas stations. Widget shops are only needed if they sell Chinese stuff people want. Why do our elected officials pick winners and losers. This makes the playing field unlevel and gives favoritism to one group over another. It has to stop.

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Jonathan Fox 1 year, 7 months ago

Farmers grow food. People need to eat. I don't have to have a computer to survive. If we take away the farm subsidy and let market forces drive crop prices, what do you think the price of food would do? What would that do to the restaurant industry? How many industries would be effected by a massive increase in the price of food? The state of Kansas exports more wheat than all of Russia, how does that effect our global economy? The farm subsidy comes from federal money. Federal money comes enormously from high income earners and corporations.

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 7 months ago

No wonder you grew up to be a mechanic... jez...

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JackMcKee 1 year, 7 months ago

This should be a clear indication that the nonsense that's currently gripping Kansas politics is shunned by just about every single rational person in the country. Kansas needs to swing back to moderation or it risks being completely marginalized. Ma and Pa Hayseed might feel real good about sticking it to the moderate Republicans and "libbies" but they're cutting off their own noses to spite their faces.

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