“It’s important farmers have a strong voice in Congress,” Robert E. Latta, U.S. congressman representing Fulton County (R-Bowling Green), said Friday, March 28, after meeting with five Fulton County farmers at the Ohio State University Extension Office, north of Wauseon on St. Rt. 108.
Latta heard concerns of farmers, including what should and shouldn’t be in the annual federal farm bill, ever-increasing fuel costs, and foreign products being imported into the United States.
“Few understand the pressure” of farming, Latta said.
“It’s tough. If farming is so easy, more people would get into it,” he said.
Latta has been meeting with farmers from counties in his congressional district, gathering input on several issues.
“One is the farm bill. I’m hearing from folks what should be in the bill and what shouldn’t,” he said.
He said 70% to 78% of the farm bill deals with nutrition, which is the federal Food Stamp program.
That means farmers get very little of what’s in the bill.
He said he also heard about the current situation for grain producers and livestock operations.
For those farmers growing crops for sale, business is good, as ethanol production drives up the price of grain.
But the livestock producer has it tough, as the grain he feeds to his animals costs more and more.
He said the United States depends on other countries for oil; but he doesn’t want the U.S. to become dependent on other countries for food.
Latta said part of his job is communicating with his fellow legislators about farming issues, and to protect farmers from misguided legislation.
He noted when he was in the Ohio legislature, one of his fellow legislators tried to pass a bill defining any farm operation of more than 500 acres as a “mega farm,” to bring such farms under stricter controls.
Latta said he was able to educate the legislator about farm issues.
He said in the 1900s, 40% of Americans were involved in farming. Today, in Ohio, it’s eight-tenths (.8) of a percent; nationally, it’s 1.75%.
“Fewer people farm. They don’t understand the issues.
He said he is only one generation removed from the farm, and that his wife’s family still farms in the Stryker area.
“I have a lot of contact” with farmers, he said.