Guest Post by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin
In the last few weeks I’ve traveled to over 26 cities and towns all over Iowa to meet face to face with residents and listen to their hopes, their concerns, and their feedback on the 2007 farm bill, which will strengthen investment and economic opportunities for our rural communities and farmers, conserve our environment while decreasing our dependence on foreign sources of oil and improve the quality and safety of our food and nutritional options for our children.
What struck me most during these personal meetings was how our uniquely American entrepreneurial spirit is stronger than ever. I have always believed that one of the cardinal responsibilities of government is to provide the basic infrastructure for Americans with innovative ideas to be able to readily carry them out — and in Washington, Anamosa, Lake City, and other cities and rural communities across Iowa — I was able to witness this entrepreneurial spirit first hand.
In Washington, I met with a local family-owned company called Practical Environmental Solutions that started with a grant they received from the 2002 farm bill that helps to reduce waste by transforming wood into pellets that can burn cleanly in an oven. And in Anamosa and Lake City, I met with farmers who are using innovative conservation practices that not only help protect and improve the environment, but also help strengthen their income from the Conservation Security Program that I created in the 2002 farm bill.
Throughout Iowa, I witnessed the tremendous amount of good that we can accomplish when we pair good government policy with this entrepreneurial spirit and I am hopeful that the 2007 farm bill will continue and expand upon programs such as these to strengthen our farms, our children and our families, our rural communities, and our country.
We can strengthen our farms and secure the future for the next generation of farmers by expanding opportunities by promoting conservation through initiatives like the Conservation Security Program and expanding use of farm-based renewable energy produced throughout Iowa.
We can strengthen our farm payment system so that it can better focus on what it was designed to do – help farmers when their incomes fall and they really need the help. That’s why I support stronger payment limitations and integrity in our farm programs.
We can strengthen our children and our families by expanding the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program so that elementary schoolchildren around the country can have access to healthy and nutritious meals so they can focus in the classroom and their parents no longer have to worry about what their children going to school hungry.
We can strengthen our rural communities by ensuring that they are not left out of the information revolution by increasing broadband access and working to jumpstart a new Rural Collaborative Investment Program to boost rural infrastructure and spur effective economic development strategies.
And we can strengthen our country by increasing funding for innovative programs such as the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program that helps entrepreneurs cover the cost of getting renewable energy facilities off the ground.
The 2007 farm bill is an incredibly important piece of legislation for Iowa and America’s future and I will fight every day to continue to be a voice for sensible policies and values that strengthen all of America.
Editors Note: Leave comments for Senator Harkin in the comment section below or at his own blog.