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November 2006

Making Agriculture’s Voice Heard This November


Bob Stallman
President
American Farm Bureau
By Bob Stallman
President, American Farm Bureau

It’s almost upon us once again. Election Day. And if you can wade through all of the political charges, countercharges, allegations and innuendos on our airwaves, television screens and in our mailboxes, you will hopefully get down to the crux of the issues and the candidates.

Who knows, you may even be compelled to roll up your sleeves and get your brow a little sweaty by actively engaging in one of the many races underway in rural America.

Our Voting Right

Thomas Paine once said, “The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected.” I believe this sentiment not only holds true today, but signifies the importance of this mid-term election, which is playing out in congressional districts, U.S. Senate races, as well as state and local campaigns and initiatives.

An American’s right to vote is not only a privilege, it is a duty. But, voting is more than just showing up at the ballot box this November. It is about making a thoughtful, educated choice. And as farmers, ranchers and rural Americans, it’s imperative that we elect candidates who are supportive of agriculture and rural issues.

There are currently a lot of balls in the air that affect Farm Bureau members. This election will determine which way those balls fall. For example, the farm bill debate is heating up in Congress. Since the current bill is set to expire next year, the congressional members we elect this November will have a big hand in shaping our farm policy.

Other issues like eminent domain, immigration, death taxes and energy policy all hinge on this election. It is my firm belief that Farm Bureau members and other rural Americans acting on their democratic rights hold the reins to the direction of our government.

Your Vote Counts

I am a walking testament to the old cliché that every vote makes a difference. The first time I ran for a school board seat, I tied with my opponent. Only one vote would have made a difference. Instead, the race was prolonged and finally decided by a run-off election, which I won by, well, a few votes.

Although I don’t need to tell Farm Bureau members how important it is to vote – we traditionally vote in higher percentages than the rest of the population – I do encourage you to really pay attention to this election. Talk with your neighbors, friends and family about what’s at stake. It’s about much more than getting out the vote; it’s about getting out the right vote.

On Nov. 7, all Americans will have a powerful, equal voice in our democracy. It’s up to us to let our voices be heard for agriculture and rural America.