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Donít balance federal budget on backs of Louisiana farmers

Bobby Jindal -   Apr 05, 2007

U.S. Congressman, Bobby Jindal
U.S. Congressman, Bobby Jindal

Louisiana has a strong agricultural history, and these farming traditions continue to play a major role in our economy.

The value of products and services produced in our state's agricultural sector totals more than $23 billion, and 10 percent of our state's workforce is employed in our agricultural system.

Our state's farmers and ranchers have played an important part in Louisiana's history, and will continue to play a vital role in our future. Indeed, my own father-in-law grew up working in Louisiana's fertilizer industry.

The success of our agricultural industry impacts our entire state, from banks to retailers to the value of land, and we must ensure that the backbone of our economy is strong and in a position to succeed for the future.

The land and its resources represent the lifeblood and future for farmers and their families.

A recent survey found that 97 percent of current farmers and ranchers planned to continue in that profession for the rest of their life, with 90 percent of them hoping to pass the tradition down to their children.

Unfortunately, many may never see that dream come true unless we take action today.

Even though Louisiana is privileged to be one of the nation's largest producers of cotton, sugarcane, soybeans, and rice, many of our farmers are faced with the daily decision of whether to continue farming or end their family tradition of farming.

While today's farmers enjoy the benefits of better technology, resulting in better quality and better yields, farmers are also faced with diminishing returns, rising costs of natural gas and fertilizer, and the financial risk of losing your life's savings with one bad season.

Now many of our farmers are still struggling with the devastation of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. These farmers not only faced damage to their crops, but an increase in production costs, animal losses, infrastructure damage and saltwater intrusion. For example, the forestry industry is still feeling the affects almost two years later from the hurricanes as thousands of acres of timber were damaged or destroyed.

These hard-working men, women, and families are not looking for handouts, but opportunities. To help these families, last year I supported legislation that brought more than $197 million for Louisiana's agricultural industries, but there is still much more to be done.

Many government leaders seem to have forgotten that America was built on the back of our agricultural industries. It is essential that our government continues to support the industries that provide food for our country.

Though we have a proud tradition of feeding the world, the United States is getting closer to being a country that relies on imports for food, and this is a dangerous situation. We cannot get into a situation where we are relying on foreign countries for food, like we have with our reliance on foreign sources of energy. We cannot be a superpower if we cannot feed ourselves. The Soviet Union is a prime example of what happens to a country that allows this to happen - soaring costs, long lines for food, and widespread hunger. We must not allow this to happen.

One way we can help our farmers is with the reauthorization this year of the Farm Bill, which provides critical funding and resources for our nation's farmers.

I am committed to protecting the Farm Bill, and ensuring that greedy politicians do not attempt to cut help for our nation's agriculture industry in order to pursue other less important projects.

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