My View From The Country

Perhaps The Industry Needs New Allies

Numerous constituencies out share common ground with U.S. cattlemen’s interests. Teaming up with them could expand ag’s clout.

The results of the November election saw rural America speak clearly – and lose resoundingly. While groups like the Republican Party have begun the process of soul-searching to determine what can be done to prevent such a defeat again, agriculture rarely responds that way. After all, we are used to getting outgunned – and losing – when it comes to political outcomes.

The truth, however, is that agriculture does pretty well when one compares our results with those of our opponents, especially considering that ag tends to run weak in two big weapons of modern politics – dollars and votes. For obvious reasons, agriculture just isn’t that substantial.

A Closer Look: Colin Woodall Provides A Nov. 6 Election Wrap-Up

My kids’ orthodontist has an eclectic mix of reading material in his office. While I was waiting in that office recently, I picked up a copy of American Hunter, and was fascinated to see articles about animal welfare, use of public lands, constitutional support of the private property rights, etc. Obviously, there are constituencies out there that have many things in common with agriculturalists.

Groups like the National Rifle Association, for instance, are already potent political forces. One article in American Hunter claimed there are more than 2 million pheasant hunters in the U.S.; that’s nearly triple the number of U.S. cattle producers.

I next picked up a magazine focused on prospecting and mining; there appears to be a lot of folks today who like to spend their time panning for gold. The articles in this magazine depicted that these aficionados are concerned about government over-regulation, and are staunch advocates of private property rights.

Picking up the local paper, I read about how the oil and gas industries are spending more than ever trying to influence policy, which they believe is the greatest threat they face. Another article discussed a U.S. Supreme Court case over logging roads that could threaten the entire lumber industry in the Northwest. 

I realize these diverse groups don’t share all of our values, nor would we agree on all the issues, but there would appear to be a significant overlap on key issues. I believe that a more coordinated and collaborative approach is the key to our industry continuing to be successful on the policy side.

There is no better example than the Democratic coalition. It consists of a wide and diverse group of special interests that share very little but the desire to win elections to advance their agendas, and they have done just that.

Perhaps our industry’s failing is that we’ve spent too much time trying to speak with one unified voice within our industry. While it certainly would be beneficial for the industry and increase our clout, the advantages probably pale in comparison to finding and collaborating with other groups that agree with us.

Another Perspective: Ranchers Need Permanent Estate Tax Relief

The death tax is one of those issues where this strategy has been employed. While it’s true we’ve had little success on this issue thus far, our alliance with small business and others who share our concerns has at least helped to keep the issue alive.

Discuss this Blog Entry 4

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 3, 2012

Troy: It is obvious that your political analysis acuity is disfunctional. What have the Republicans ever done for the beef cattle industry? Everybody who is familiar with the defense of gun rights knows that the NRA is toothless. Lawyers familiar with defending the First Amendment are the people who will insure the right to bear arms is not infringed. The beef industry can not even get line item funding in the Ag Budget for Clay Center and its research, even though the dairy industry does have line item funding. When the Republicans had control of the House, Senate, Supreme Court, and the White House for six years, why did they not "fix" the estate tax policy to help farmers? They passed Medicare, Part "D" without any problem. They started a war on a lie knowing they could borrow the money from China to fight it. Ergo, Republicans use farmers just like the Christian Right. They want your support, but they will do nothing for you. And, don't give me that stuff about EPA and farming. It was Nixon that proposed the EPA and made it law. The democrats are merely following the law enacted by a Republican president.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 3, 2012

I FIND IT VERY INTERESTING THAT RURAL PEOPLE ARE SUPPOSED TO ALIGN WITH REPUBLICANS. RURAL PEOPLE ARE CURRENTLY CRYING ABOUT THE NEED FOR A NEW FARM BILL BUT THE SIMPLE FACT IS THAT THE DEMOCRATICALLY CONTROLLED SENATE PASSED A FARM BILL, THE REPUBLICAN CONTROLLED HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CAN'T GET ANY KIND OF AGREEMENT ON FARM LEGISLATION AND WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR EVEN LARGER CUTS AS THE FISCAL CLIFF COMES CLOSER. THERE ARE ALOT OF US IN AGRICULTURE WHO ARE DEMOCRATS AND PROUD OF IT - BUT EVIDENTLY WE'RE THE ONES THAT GET THINGS DONE WE AND DON'T SPEND SO MUCH TIME WHINING.

Anonymous (not verified)
on Dec 13, 2012

Theres a button called the caps lock, you don't want to use it when youre typing unless your capitalizing a word, and you only capitalize the first letter. Remember your english class? Use what you learned! When 97% of the USDA budget is for welfare spending I wouldn't pass it, no matter what party Im on. If the democrats would actually try to pass bills that dealt with agriculture not adding more dependent voters to their payrolls I would agree with you. Actually youre the only democrat in agriculture I have ever met, not counting hobby farmers.

John R. Dykers, Jr. (not verified)
on Dec 3, 2012

Excellent concept. Add the ripoff we ranchers get in input costs and the relationship to obscene CEO pay unrelated to market performance and we have a natural alliance with those opposed to income disparity who at first glance would not recognize us as allies and whom we might not recognize either. If DISPARITY becomes too great, revolution follows, and ALL property rights are lost and everyone loses. e.g. French, Russian and Cuban revolutions. We get irritable when we are hungry.
johndykersmd@dykers.com

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What's My View From The Country?

As a fulltime rancher, opinion contribur Troy Marshall brings a unique perspective on how consumer and political trends affect livestock production.

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Troy Marshall

Troy Marshall is a multi-generational rancher who grew up in Wheatland, WY, and obtained an Equine Science/Animal Science degree from Colorado State University where he competed on both the livestock...

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