|By DAVE BLOWER JR.
Farm World Editor
FORT WAYNE, Ind. — U.S. Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) received a Friend of the Farm Bureau award from Indiana Farm Bureau members during the Fort Wayne Farm Show last week.
Souder said the debate for what will be included in the next federal farm bill is starting to gain volume. Talking to a crowd largely made of farmers, Souder touted the benefits of agriculture.
“It used to be that it took 10 farmers to generate 10 jobs,” he started. “Now, with new technology and what is being produced, one farmer is maybe generating 20 or more jobs for his rural community.”
Because of this, Souder said, the farm bill debate is important to all U.S. citizens. Still, he explained, changes are necessary.
“With the farm bill, too often, we support the farmers who produce one out of 10 years - then farm the government for nine years,” he said.
He added that rural development is an important element to the farm bill. He said, citing a Purdue study, that his district in northeastern Indiana supports farmers with a strong industrial base.
“A high percentage of farmers in our district have a second income; and therefore, are able to stay in farming,” Souder said.
“This is good for several reasons. It helps to keep our counties green,” he said. “You may not get all of your income from agriculture, but you will be able to keep your small towns small.”
He said many have said they are concerned about the loss of industrial jobs to China, Mexico and other countries with cheaper labor forces. However, he said that U.S. agriculture counters that issue.
“China may be able to cut into our industrial base, but they will never feed the world,” Souder said.
Published in the January 25, 2006 issue of Farm World.