Pass energy bill as soon as possible
It's becoming harder and harder for American farmers to be heard. Powerful equipment and technological advances have drastically reduced the number of ag producers, leaving too few to be a significant force in most state's elections.
Proudly, Nebraska, Kansas and other farm states are bucking the trend. Because there are so few of us, it makes it all the more important that an all-out effort continue to ensure that agriculture remains in the forefront of America's plans and policies.
Why's that? Because farmers are among America's greatest creators of new wealth. They do so by taking renewable natural resources -- the land and the water -- and using them to produce corn, wheat, milo, alfalfa, sunflowers and a myriad of other growing crops. The farmers multiply their efforts by using their grain to feed the world's best cattle, hogs, chickens, sheep and other meat sources.
These thoughts about agriculture came to mind this week when a farmer from Nebraska, Keith Dittrich, spoke out about the need for U.S. Congressional action on a series of agricultural issues. Dittrich is a corn farmer from Tilden, which is located on the Madison and Antelope county lines due west of Norfolk. He's in the spotlight this year because he is president of the American Corn Growers Association, an organization which represents 14,000 members in 35 states.
Although Dittrich is a corngrower, he speaks for a much wider spectrum of agriculture in his call for Congressional action.
What the Tilden farmer wants Congress to do is pass the energy bill as quickly as possible. Dittrich believes passage of the legislation is urgent because:
1. The energy bill includes the Renewable Fuel Standard, which will more than double the demand for ethanol, thereby creating almost a billion bushels of new corn demand;
2. The energy bill makes farmer-owned co-ops eligible for tax credits and incentives for soybean-based biodiesel; and:
3. The energy bill provides incentives to upgrade and expand electrical transmission in America. Not only will this program assure farmers of an affordable power supply, but it will also be a boost for alternative power sources, including wind-generated electricity.
The corn growers' president also is calling for action on the Fiscal 2004 omnibus appropriations bill. However, before that is done, Dittrich wants Congress to require Country of Origin Labeling (known by the initials COOL) on imported meat from foreign countries.
We agree with Dittrich and other corngrowers when they say, "Congress must restore funding for this essential provision of the 2002 farm bill, and act as soon as possible to fund its implementation." Farmers may be few in numbers, but, in the long run, what is good for them is also good for the nation.