on your mind

(The following article is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of iFIBER ONE News, iFIBER Communications, or it’s staff)

Millions of Americans tuned in last Wednesday night to see what President Biden had to say about the first 100 days of his Administration and his plans for our country. Unfortunately for farmers, ranchers, and agricultural communities like ours in Central Washington, he had little to offer. 

Instead of discussing real, concrete solutions that would help our farmers and ranchers through the recovery of a global pandemic, the President spent two hours pontificating on his radical agenda and social welfare programs.

It would be irresponsible to pay for an infrastructure bill on the backs of farmers and ranchers. The agriculture industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 economic and public health crisis, and it is a slap in the face to our agricultural communities for our challenges to be left out of the equation – especially when we have real solutions.

In the last couple of weeks alone, I’ve introduced several such solutions. The Conservation and Innovative Climate Partnership Act and the Continuous Improvement and Accountability in Organic Standards Act (CIAO Act) to name two.

The Conservation and Innovative Climate Partnership Act would allocate funding for land-grant institutions to partner with local farmers to boost conservation and climate practices. Farmers are already responsible stewards of the land, and this legislation empowers producers to voluntarily adopt practices that suit their individual needs while enabling the federal government to build on the successes already taking place in agricultural communities.  

Additionally, the Continuous Improvement and Accountability in Organic Standards Act (CIAO Act) is bipartisan legislation that will help our organic farmers by reducing government red tape on their innovative practices. It establishes a new framework for advancing organic standards and improving oversight and enforcement of new rules and guidance. 

Only when the federal government gets out of the way of Americans can we innovate and achieve real progress and prosperity.

But President Biden clearly hasn’t learned this yet. When he finally deigned to mention the agriculture industry, it was in the context of addressing climate change: “Farmers planting cover crops, so they can reduce carbon dioxide in the air and get paid for doing it.”

This is not the type of support or leadership our producers need from the President. Farmers are helping to improve our environment and address climate concerns, but this is nothing new. Absolutely, cover crops are an important component to habitat, land, and water conservation practices. Growers have employed and perfected these practices for thousands of years, yet President Biden touted the idea as if it were a revolutionary practice. 

And the actual proposals the President put before Congress and the American people? They are likely to undercut the economic recovery we’re just now beginning to see, particularly in rural communities. The American Farm Bureau’s tax adviser described President Biden’s plan as “three new tax hikes for farmers and ranchers.”

Farmers and families in agricultural regions want to know how the President plans to increase domestic production of healthy food, improve our water storage capacity, strengthen our agriculture research programs, or advance a trade agenda that ensures a level playing field for our growers.

Instead, President Biden focused on his expensive social reform and “infrastructure” proposals, which represent an unprecedented expansion of the size, scope, and cost of government. They would transform America from a free market economy, based on hard work and individual responsibility, into a European-style social welfare state, replete with high taxes and a bloated bureaucracy to overregulate our lives.  

Further, he has proposed a 66% federal “Death Tax,” which could devastate Central Washington families looking to pass their farm on to the next generation. This provision is often a determining factor in whether our farmers and ranchers can maintain access to their land for generations to come, or if that land is laid bare and broken, turned into strip malls and parking garages.

Producers in Central Washington and across the country work around-the-clock to ensure a safe and secure food supply. Their work should not be punished with government overreach and regulatory burdens. If President Biden’s address is indicative of his plans for our farmers’ futures, then it’s a grim view indeed. It is my hope that, ultimately, he will recognize the contributions our farmers make every day and start working to help them.