More Thoughts While Still Waiting for the Farm Bill

Bryan Bjerke
August 1, 2013

I’d like to report that since I wrote the article, “Some Thoughts While Waiting for the Farm Bill,” a new Farm Bill had been passed; or at least that there has been significant movement towards passage. So the headlines about the Farm Bill haven’t changed much. Now, it looks like Congress is packing up and getting ready to take the month of August off without any progress.

There’s no August recess for farmers and agribusiness. As I wrote in the first article, the work of agriculture goes on. The disconnection between the government and agriculture hasn’t gotten any better. And the need is just as great for all of us who are involved in agriculture and agribusiness and ag communications to continue to make our voices heard, and to try to get the urban consumers who aren’t directly tied to agriculture, to realize just how important agriculture is and speak up for it as well.

I had just finished a biography of Thomas Jefferson when I wrote the first article, noting that Jefferson was, among his many other talents, a farmer who knew the value of agriculture to the growth and prosperity of America. Jefferson’s not around these days, but his words still ring true. For example, he wrote to John Jay that:

“Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bonds. As long, therefore, as they can find employment in this line, I would not convert them into mariners, artisans, or anything else.”

You’ll notice that Jefferson didn’t suggest converting the “cultivators of the earth” into politicians. We do need more people in government with ties to the land and the people involved in the industry. But it would be a shame if we had to take productive farmers and agribusiness people away from their work and send them to Washington so agriculture’s message can be heard. For the time being, let’s redouble our efforts at telling the story of American agriculture as clearly and forcefully as we can.

It’s August, and we’re all going to keep working on it. It’s what we do.

Read my original thoughts on the Farm Bill.