Agriculture’s voice carries beyond election day

Continue to make your opinions known regarding agriculture issues

by:  - Bob Stallman <span id=This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." title="by: - Bob Stallman This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." class="caption" width="220" />

Election Day has again come and gone. Hopefully, you were able to wade through all of the political charges, counter charges, allegations and innuendos on our airwaves, television screens and in our mailboxes to get down to the crux of the issues and the candidates.
   Who knows, you may have been compelled to roll up our sleeves and get your brow a little sweaty by actively engaging in one of the many races in rural American.
   Our voting right
   Thomas Paine once said, "The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which others are protected." I believe this sentiment not only holds true today, but signifies the importance of the recent midterm election, which played out in congressional districts, U.S. Senate races, as well as state and local campaigns and initiatives.
   An American's right to vote is not only a privilege, it is a duty. But, voting is more than just showing up at the ballot box. It is about making a thoughtful, educated choice. And as farmers, ranchers and rural Americans, it's always imperative that we elect candidates who are supportive of agricultural and rural issues.
   This election will have an impact on the many balls in the air that affect Farm Bureau members. For example, the farm bill debate is heating up in Congress. Since the current bill is set to expire next year, the congressional members we elected on Nov. 7 will have a big hand in shaping our farm policy.
   Other issues like eminent domain, immigration, death taxes and energy policy all hinge on lawmakers, those new and those returning to Capital Hill. It is my firm belief that Farm Bureau members and other rural Americans who acted on their democratic rights hold the reins to the direction of our government.
   The power of one
   I am a walking testament to the old cliche that every vote matters. The first time I ran for a school board seat, I tied with my opponent. Only one vote would have made a difference. Instead, the race was prolonged and finally decided by a run-off election, which I won, by, well, a few votes.
   With Election Day now past - not to mention that Farm Bureau members traditionally vote in higher percentages than the rest of the population - I don't need to tell you to go out and vote. I do encouraged you to continue to talk to your neighbors, friends, and families about the issues raised during the campaign season and what's still at stake. More than getting out the vote - the right vote - it's about making sure the people we elected go to the state capitals and Capital Hill and make good on their promises. On Nov. 7, all Americans had a powerful, equal voice in our democracy. It's up to us to let our voices continue to be heard for agriculture and rural America.
   Bob Stallman is the President of the American Farm Bureau Federation. He can be reached at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.