KAWX News

Congressman Bruce Westerman's Weekly Column

I Will Always Support Arkansas Farmers
 
This week, I hosted my annual agriculture tour of Arkansas’ Fourth District; traveling from Ozark to Hope, and many places in between. I always look forward to this week because I can spend considerable time speaking with farmers and ranchers about their challenges and about how I can highlight their needs to my colleagues in Congress.
 
This week, the Consumer Price Index reported another 0.4% jump in inflation to 8.2% compared to the previous year. This is higher than expected, despite the Federal Reserve’s efforts. While President Biden continues to deny the fact that the U.S. is in a recession, it is no secret that Americans are paying the price at the pump and the grocery store. Current policies are robbing workers of their hard earned wages, resulting in the equivalent of the steepest pay cut in 25 years. Rising prices hurt everyone, but especially our farmers. Farm production expenses surged $66 billion from 2021 to 2022.
 
This week, farmers and ranchers shared their stories about how high input costs are hurting their businesses and their families. I hosted a roundtable for ranchers in Franklin County who are struggling with the ongoing drought. One cattleman shared how there are three things needed for a farm to be successful: feed, fuel, and fertilizer. He went on to say you can usually struggle and get by when the price of two of those are out of proportion, but when all three are inflated coupled with drought, supply chain, and labor issues it makes it difficult to survive. 
 
Food is an absolute necessity. Without it, humanity would cease to exist. Farmers understand the basic economics that those in the current administration cannot seem to grasp. When policies are put in place to raise prices for farmers, farmers are then forced to pass along those cost increases to consumers. The fastest way to fight inflation is to lower energy costs. If Republicans take back the majority in the new Congress, I will work hard to pass legislation, like the ones I have introduced, to reduce those costs by ending the war on energy and empowering U.S. energy independence once again. 
 
Arkansans, thankfully, are resilient, and researchers are consistently working on new technologies to keep Arkansas farmers competitive. This week I visited the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, the University of Arkansas Southwest Research and Extension Center, and the Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center to hear about the innovation happening right here in the Fourth District to help better diversify Arkansas’ agriculture. In California, drought has caused a tomato shortage. By introducing high yield crops like tomatoes to Arkansas, farmers can better fill gaps in the market and meet demand, while significantly growing Arkansas’ economy.
 
Farming is more than a job in Arkansas, it's a way of life. I am grateful for the chance to meet with the exceptional farmers, producers, and ranchers in the Fourth District to bring back that way of life to our nation's capitol to share with my colleagues. Too often, elites in Washington, D.C., have no understanding of how policy affects rural communities and our most vital industry. I will always fight to ensure government remains where it belongs - out of the way of our farmers.
 
10-14-22 4:59 PM KAWX.ORG