Senator Hears Complaints, Suggestions From Area Farmers

Senator Ken Salazar, a member of a farming family himself calls agriculture "the forgotten America."

The Senator seemed to establish a rapport with the dozens of farmers from as far away as Meeker and Craig who came to the Mesa County fairgrounds today to speak to the Senator with a unified voice.

A number of themes became evident as the meeting progressed,
among them are concerns about ending commodity programs for some big–market agriculture and using that money to help smaller growers who raise fruits and vegetables. Other concerns centered on tariffs placed by foreign countries on American exports.

The senator was also warned of a potential threat to America's agricultural heritage. A Craig dry-land wheat farmer says the country cannot continue to lose farmland to development, reducing the amount of food grown in the U.S.. The world political situation makes relying on foreign food imports risky, he said, adding that it takes years to convert once-productive land back to useful farmland.

Salazar says it's time to make better use of agriculture to grow renewable energy. He noted that a renewable energy component was in the 2002 Farm Bill, but it has been largely ignored.

Les than one percent of the federal budget goes to support agriculture but that money pays big dividends. In addition to direct farm programs the bill supports school nutrition programs, rural development, land conservation, forestry and many other programs.