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Unexpected sermon: Farm bill isn't just about farmers

A lot of politicians have something of the preacher in them. They can take a message or viewpoint that might otherwise be pedestrian and plodding and turn it into an inspirational jewel that leaves their audience wanting to shout “Amen!”.

Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kans., who was introduced at the mid-year board meeting of Mississippi's Delta Council as “one of the rising stars in U.S. agriculture and one of the most effective advocates for agriculture in Congress,” delivered this unexpected paean to the American farmer in concluding his address:

“I've been all across this country, meeting with, talking with, and listening to farmers, and what you discover is: wherever it is, farmers are farmers. They may bring a different perspective, based on commodity and geography, but they face the same kind of issues, generally the same battles, have the same overriding goals and the burning desire to see that another generation will have the same chances they've had.

“I care about farmers and their families, and when we develop farm policy, it's about the economic survival of an important component of the U.S. economy. A farm bill isn't just about farmers — it's about whether we have children in our rural school systems, whether we have people to shop on our small town Main Streets, whether we continue to have a sense of community in rural America.

“It's been good to see all the father/son farm operations here in the Delta. One of the things that worries me most is if we lose sight of the opportunities for there to be farms across this country — family farming operations, sons and daughters working side by side with moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas.

“Historically, this is the way we've passed on our character, our integrity, our values, our judgment, our love of life, our understanding of the way things work. If we lose this opportunity, we're going to lose something of who we are as an American people.

“Many members of Congress don't care about agriculture. It's easy for them to say, let's cut agriculture spending. There's an attitude that it doesn't matter where our food comes from — just wherever we can get it cheapest. And yet we see the consequences of this attitude in energy. I don't believe we want to see what's happened with oil happen with what we eat.

“What you do every day as farmers matters. It matters how we get fed, how we get clothed. Even more importantly, it matters to character, judgment, common sense, the love of family and country that we have as Americans.

“Absent farm families, our country will be diminished — we will be a different people than who we are today, if we're not allowed to earn a living from the land and bring our sons and daughters back to farm side by side with us.

“It's a noble cause, farming, and it's about more than just dollars. It's about who we are as Americans, and we must never lose it.”

Can we have an “Amen!”?

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