Archive for Thursday, February 17, 2011

Roberts: Kansas serving world

February 17, 2011

Chances are you’re serving up some home-grown dinner on your kitchen table tonight.

Kansas farmers and ranchers consistently rank at the top in wheat, sorghum and beef production, with corn and soybeans following close behind. We even have a few folks growing cotton now. Kansas farmers produce this not just for us, but for millions around the globe who depend on us for a safe and affordable food and fiber supply.

In fact, Kansas exports $4.7 billion in farm products each year. This growth is vital to our state’s success, contributing over $12 billion per year to our economy.

With so much on the line for Kansas agriculture, it’s a particular privilege to become the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee in this Congress. It’s the first time in 32 years that a Kansan has held this position. Senator Bob Dole last served as “ranking member” of the committee from 1975-1978. With this post, rest assured that Kansas’ voice will be heard loud and clear in federal agriculture and nutrition policy.

But I also want to acknowledge that we face some serious challenges in production agriculture as we have to double output over the next 40 years to meet global hunger demands. You only have to look at the news right now to see that international economic issues, including food prices, are playing a role in the unrest and turmoil in Egypt and many other nations across the globe.

How our government responds — and what regulations and policies it seeks to implement — will have a significant effect on our producers as well as consumers here and abroad.

As Ranking Member on the committee, I will keep one theme central to the issues we consider and debate: “How does this help our producers meet the global food challenge?” I have no doubt our farmers and ranchers can meet the challenge and can do it in a way that protects their land and ensures its use for future generations.

I will focus on maintaining the production agriculture safety net, expanding trade opportunities for farmers and ranchers, conducting oversight of regulations that threaten to destroy the competitiveness of America’s farmers, and maintaining the security of our food and agriculture sectors. I look forward to working with my friend and colleague, the committee’s Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), in achieving these goals.

Several Kansas aggies are helping me lead this effort. My Staff Director Mike Seyfert grew up on a farm near Ada. My Deputy Staff Director Joel Leftwich grew up in Wellington. My State Ag Representative Mel Thompson farms a Century Farm in Medicine Lodge and my Senior Ag Policy advisor Ryan Flickner hails from Wichita and spends time on the family farm near Moundridge.

Together, we’ll be a champion for those who feed a troubled and hungry world, while looking for new ways we can propel our industry and our rural communities into the next generation.

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