Grower groups throughout the peanut belt do a good job of educating congressional staffers about the importance of our crop and of rural America, in general.
Recently, the Georgia Peanut Commission and the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation hosted 20 such individuals in South Georgia. The staffers represented offices from Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina.
Although this is important, it is not enough for the staff to be aware of the needs of our industry. We must have actual candidates who understand and support agriculture. That was the message recently from Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga), who serves on the House Agriculture Committee and is in line to be the next chairman.
“I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or Republican. What I do care about is when we go to the polls in November that we have someone who can support agriculture. In some cases, we’re getting two candidates on the ballot who don’t understand or support agriculture,” Scott says. “Let’s make sure we’ve got pro-ag Democrats and pro-ag Republicans on the ballot.”
Scott’s right, of course. Congressional support with knowledge and understanding of what happens on the farm has been dwindling for years. He also knows that valuable members have already announced their retirements or intentions to seek other offices in 2020. To name a few, Reps. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Martha Roby (R-Ala.), Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) and Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) are all stepping away.
But who wants to run for office in the current political climate? As Scott says, “Our primaries of both parties are being controlled by outside groups that are raising tremendous amounts of money. We’re in danger of getting candidates from both parties who know nothing about agriculture and don’t support it.”
It is time we encourage and support with both our time and donations candidates who favor agriculture to ensure farmers continue to have a voice in Congress. Everything is at stake.