Back on June 30, 2010 the United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry held its first hearing on the reauthorization of the Farm Bill. It appears the Farm Bill will finally pass in February 2014, about 2 years late.
There were 3 panels that testified, the first panel was Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the second was Roger Johnson, President of the National Farmers Union & Bob Stallman, President of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The 3rd panel was a farmer panel:
Dow Brantley of England, AR
Thomas Johnny Cochran of Sylvester, GA
Chris Pawelski of Goshen, NY
Mark Watne of Jamestown, ND
The video is just of the farmer portion of the hearing, of which I had the rare privilege of participating in:
This link takes you to the hearing page on the Senate Agriculture Committee website. On the page you can download our submitted written testimony and eventually watch the entire hearing:
This link is for the entire written transcript of the hearing, including the oral hearing:
Blog entries about the hearing:
From my unpublished memoir:
The highlight though came during the panel discussion after we read our submitted written testimony. When Vilsack testified he detailed a plan he had to create 100,000 new farmers. He based it on the same theme as past instituted programs to get 100,000 new law enforcement persons and mentioned the push for new teachers, or something along those lines. When our panel was up we were asked by Senator Chambliss what we essentially thought about Vilsack’s 100,000 new farmer proposal or how we should get young people to stay in farming.
When they got to me with that question I had a problem. Now, I immediately felt that Vilsack’s proposal was a hare-brained scheme that was totally unrealistic and quite laughable. In fact, when Vilsack said it Eve and I literally burst out laughing. But, I couldn’t say that during the hearing. I actually had the hope of getting Vilsack to visit my farm. I had already met with two previous Secretaries of Agriculture, but none had ever come to my farm.
So, when asked the question here is what I said, and this is taken directly from the official, codified and printed Congressional Record of the hearing:
“Going back to what Secretary Vilsack said, the best way to get people young working on the farms and stay on the farms is make it profitable. And the thing is, I am not looking to be a Elmer J. Fudd millionaire and own a mansion and a yacht. I would just like to make a living. That is what I am looking for, make a living.”
I was a broadcasting and film studies student, I hold a Master of Arts degree from one of this nation’s premier research institutions, the University of Iowa. And I was able to work in a Bugs Bunny cartoon quote into my testimony, and that quote is now part of the official Congressional record. It simply doesn’t get any better than that.
On a more serious note, the powers that be need to address the issue of how we farmers get so little of the retail dollar. There are deep, systemic reasons for that problem that need one day to be addressed. We need to encourage production where the bulk of the population lives. These are complex problems but must be addressed if you want to save production agriculture in this country. Make farming a more profitable endeavor and families will continue to farm and people may even eventually enter it. The job numbers will be able to reflect on-farm jobs as a source of meaningful income and economic development. Ignoring this deep systemic problems and instead coming up with gimmicks that won’t work is nothing more than shuffling the deck furniture as the ship sinks.
Here is a copy of the official Congressional Record with that quote (they send you two books after you testify) and my officially submitted written testimony, which you can also download as a pdf file off of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee’s website via this link:
Many thanks to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and her wonderful staff. The Senator and her staff are fantastic advocates of agriculture, including and especially their farmers in New York State. I’d also like to thank the Chair of the Committee, Sen. Blanche Lincoln as well as the Ranking Member, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, and their respective staffs.
It truly was an honor and a privilege to be part of this hearing and important legislative process.
As I have mentioned multiple times previously my campaign to raise funds for an editor will be featured in an upcoming episode of the new Crowd Funder Show.
What is the Crowd Funder Show and what does it mean to appear on the show? According to their website:
The Crowd Funder TV Show highlights various ideas that have been selected based on their merit for creativity, social relevance, and commercial viability. Each episode focuses the spotlight on six or seven inspiring projects and personal goals that give the viewing audience insight into the campaign, its principal, and the reason(s) why it should come to fruition. The Crowd Funder TV Show highlights various ideas that have been selected based on their merit for creativity, social relevance, and commercial viability.
What is so neat about their crowd funding method, versus Kickstarter’s, is that it is not “all or nothing.” Further, the rewards are much more exciting. Again, from their website:
Viewers can choose to support the projects they watch by contributing directly to the campaign website or by calling a toll-free number. The Crowd Funder Show rewards contributors with sponsored gift cards for the same amount of money they contribute, up to $100. Supporting people and their projects has never been easier so it’s no wonder you can’t help but feel like you’re a part of something special. The Crowd Funder TV Show is an interesting, inspiring program that highlights human ingenuity and co-operation.
When you go to my page you will see locations once can choose from for the gift card include: Sears, Best Buy, Home Depot and Toys R Us. So, if you plan on doing any shopping at any of these locations anyway you are essentially donating to my cause for free. A total win-win!