It’s yet another important presidential election, and yet again neither candidate bothers to mention anything even remotely related to agriculture. I find it ironic how both candidates constantly profess their love for small town America and still mention nothing about what these towns rely upon for their survival. Agriculture policy is some of the most important for creating a sustainable world. The economy is at the forefront of all issues being discussed, but this should still mean ag should be mentioned because of the crucial role ag plays in the economy. Agriculture policy has the biggest influence on rural economies and has a bigger effect on the overall economy as a whole than more people probably realize.
On the off chance that one of the candidates does mention something related to agriculture, it is usually just a brief mention of ethanol from corn. The most important topics within this issue should not be ethanol, however. They should be how to create or promote an agriculture that will help the poorest and hungriest in the world, and specifically in our country, how to get more young people into farming.
Just because I am a farmer, I don’t beleive I’m being shortsighted in saying all this. What issue is more important than feeding the poor? Other economic means of ending poverty are often mentioned, but none are as important as creating a stable food system.
Within the Catholic Church, the National Catholic Rural Life Conference has done a good job of trying to influence policy makers in order to create an ag policy that sustains rural communities and benefits the poor and hungry. Catholic Rural Life is greatly underappreciated. Their work, and the work of all sustainable agriculture groups, is a constant uphill struggle against corporate agriculture interests. Many environmental groups have large amounts of money and therefore much lobbying power, but this is not true with the underfunded groups that focus on rural development. As a result the lobbying efforts are defintely labors of love, and are not purely money-driven efforts.
For many voters, agriculture is just another issue in an overly long election year, but it’s importance is undeniable and should not be forgotten.