Archive for Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The importance of your vote

October 29, 2008

A wise man once said, “If you don’t vote, someone else is voting for you on issues that are important in your life.” This is particularly true as we head into the final stretch of the Nov. 4 election.

There is plenty at stake for each one of us. Elected officials responsible for helping determine our future, that of our children and our agricultural industry will be filled at all levels of government.

This presidential race is historic and some believe astonishing. The race between Sen. John McCain and Sen. Barack Obama appears to be going down to the wire.

On the national level, there are many issues at stake, but none so important as the economic health of our nation. Other key issues such as energy and trade must continue to be advanced.

With a new president we can expect movement on the main issues impacting this nation and its farmers and ranchers. One of the key issues will be appointment of a new U.S. Trade representation and broadening our trading partners. Other countries are eager to get back to trade talks.

Congress has yet to take action on three critical trade agreements — Panama, South Korea and Colombia. Every one of these will positively impact every sector in Kansas, and agriculture is at the top of the list.

What about future farm bills? Have we seen our last Commodity Title in this nation's farm bill?

We barely came up with the current farm bill. It took an over-ride of a presidential veto. This farm bill wasn't vetoed because President Bush doesn't like farmers. It was vetoed because he saw the price tag as too high.

Budget pressures will drive the agenda in Washington for the foreseeable future. The political will to sustain direct payments to farmers simply may not exist when the next farm bill is written.

Closer to home, cost and availability of credit, contracting export markets and the recent declines in commodity prices vs. input costs are paramount on the minds of Kansas producers.

In the energy arena, there will be debates on coal-fired electricity generation and greenhouse gas emissions. Every sector of the economy could be negatively impacted by inappropriate and overreaching regulation.

Local governments may feel pressure to raise property taxes, resulting from the state budget pinch. And we must ensure the management of Kansas reservoirs is not detrimental to farmers and ranchers dependent on their releases. We must manage reservoirs in a more prudent manner beneficial to all Kansans.

Yes, every one of the candidates in our Kansas election is vital to farming and ranching. When it comes to figuring out which candidate to vote for, each one must be evaluated individually to determine strengths and willingness to work on behalf of agriculture and rural Kansas.

Some farm organizations, including Kansas Farm Bureau, recently finished their final and vital push to implement grassroots public policy positions that its members have developed throughout the year. Our organization has also endorsed 114 candidates in the U.S. Congress, Kansas Senate and the Kansas House. All are friends of our organization and understand the importance of agriculture in our state.

So many of the issues have been cussed and discussed. The machinery is in place. All that remains is the action of voting for the candidates who have an ear that will listen to those in agriculture and rural Kansas.

Exercise your privilege and vote this Nov. 4. Remember, if you don't someone else will vote on issues that impact your life and livelihood.

John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.

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