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Don’t be obstreperousDon’t be obstreperous

Vote against belligerent candidates on the path to securing a Farm Bill

Pam Caraway

August 31, 2023

2 Min Read
Capitol sunset
The belligerent few in our nation’s capital are keeping us from accomplishing anything.Getty Images/iStockphoto

My college mentor cocked an eyebrow, crossed his hands on his desk, leaned forward and smiled: “Don’t be obstreperous.”

I, of course, denied being any such thing. Then I went to my desk to look up the dang word.

As such memories often do, this one sprang to mind recently in what seemed to be an unrelated instance. U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Georgia, was speaking at the Southern Peanut Growers Conference in Sandestin, Fla. Scott figures about 5% of the members of each majority party are belligerent blowhards causing the stoppages now crippling Congress. (Scott said belligerent. I added blowhard.)

To move forward, Scott said, “we have to combat belligerence at the ballot box.”

Hmmm. I’m listening.

Fast forward from there to the Texas Ag Forum – just about as hot, but no beach close by. Scott’s comments on belligerence tied into what some of our best and brightest ag policy analysts had to say. They suggested that we wait to get a new farm bill. Yes, we need higher reference prices, especially for our Southern crops. Yes, we need crop insurance improvements. No, we can’t continue to cut away at the farm safety net and think this country can survive economically or environmentally. But they suggested we might be better off waiting for a more collaborative moment in Congressional history.

As Scott said, it’s nearly impossible to get something done in a room dominated by the bellicose few.

If we take Scott’s suggestion to combat belligerence at the ballot box, we could lower the volume.

What we’re looking for are statesmen or stateswomen with character. Agricultural knowledge is preferred, but not required since we’re not likely to find a candidate who is truly well-versed in our industry. (And when we do, at least lately, we don’t give that acumen the priority it deserves. Or at least the folks in Minnesota didn’t when they booted a farm bill battle-tested Collin Peterson. We voters lately seem to focus on a single issue or simply vote a straight party line. Peterson is a smart, farm-raised cookie and a Democrat.)

What we’re looking for are people willing to work together for the greater good. And we well know the greater good includes shoring up our agricultural safety net.

All to say, that could be why that memory popped up. I didn’t get anything done the day that I learned the definition of obstreperous. And today the belligerent few in our nation’s capital are keeping us from accomplishing a cockamamie thing – as Peterson might say.

Seems like we have a farm bill to gain and nothing to lose by taking Scott’s suggestion to vote against belligerence. Think we can collaborate on that?

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