The question of the future of farm policy remains unanswered. Although the Senate was able to move the farm bill forward, it stalled in the House. And with it the chance for major reform to the food stamp program and the possibility of big savings. Many ag producers are feeling helpless like their voice simply won't be heard in Washington. But Larry Combest suggests otherwise. All it takes is a little effort and big goals.
"It's so vitally important," Combest said. "We've got so much at stake with government and it's not just about agriculture. It's about everything because government intrudes and gets in our lives in lots of different areas. People's involvement, I think there's a tendency to always assume somebody else is going to do it, and you can't always assume that."
With pro-agriculture Congressmen here in our districts, it may seem unnecessary to call and give them an earful. But former House ag committee chair Larry Combest knows from his own experience that no one understands the obstacles producers are currently facing than producers themselves.
"If you have a position on a subject, you can always assume that somebody else is going to have the opposite position, so you want to make for sure you counter anything that they may say," Combest said. "But political involvement is important. I really wish it wasn't quite as necessary as it is, but it is and people need to be involved."
"In terms of agriculture, you have such a small number of people that a minority of representatives that have agricultural constituencies, and even then so many times we have found that they still don't understand the subject. It's not an easy subject to understand and so you're outnumbered substantially," Combest said.
And what if you're not directly involved in production agriculture? Well, the farm bill affects you, too. Like how much you pay for that gallon of milk at the grocery store.
"If we can have adequate, inexpensive, quality things to eat and wear in this country it's very important, and so you have to sometimes try to couch it in terms of how does the consuming public benefit," Combest said.
Moving forward, Combest said that there are still several months for the farm bill to get passed out of the House. But pushing the matter to the number one spot on the priority list is a must.
"I don't think that politically the Republican House, and I used to be one of them, can afford to let this go without some action. They made a major blunder last week," Combest said. "It's almost unprecedented. But they're going to have to correct that and move the farm bill forward because now the Senate has passed one twice."
Constituents can get office phone numbers, emails, and mailing addresses off of their representative's websites. Getting to know your Congressmen as well as their staff can ensure you're doing your part to stay involved in the process.