U.S. Senator Jerry Moran spoke Thursday to a group of students and community members at the Kansas Farm Bureau. The message was sponsored by Food for Thought, a student organization hoping to get a pro-agricultural message to consumers, and as a result the message largely focused on Kansas agriculture.
“I am one who loves Kansas,” Moran said. “Farmers revolve around the belief we live our life in a special way, and I’ve always been concerned that we may lose that special way.”
Moran spoke at length about farming, and the great values learned from working on family farms. But, there was also a recognition of Kansas changing significantly.
“Most of us grew up understanding that what happened at the local elevator was important, but what happens in Tokyo is almost as important,” Moran said.
The Senator spoke about a Washington mindset that assumes higher commodity prices means farmers are well off, but Moran argued commodity prices are normally higher when there is a bad crop, input costs are higher or if the crops have already been sold.
Globalization and competition are two themes that were present throughout Moran’s speech, and he mentioned how farm aid was important to make sure Kansas farmers were on an equal playing field with farmers in other countries.
Greenhouse gas legislation was a danger warned against, and Moran said other countries would not meet the same standards the U.S. will try to set.
“In my opinion, environmental and other regulations are the greatest threat to agriculture,” Moran.
He also said animal rights legislation and environmental legislation was well-intentioned, but it was not practical for small farmers trying to stay in business.
Matt Kiehl, junior in finance and accounting, said he sympathized with Moran’s message partly because he grew up on a farm.
“I thought he said a lot of good things,” Kiehl said. “For a politician he seemed pretty open and honest.”
Moran said he hoped one day more people would move back to rural areas, and he thought the growth could potentially be fueled by greater opportunity in agribusinesses.
D.J. Rezac, co-founding member of Food for Thought and graduate student in pathobiology, said the group was excited to get such a prominent speaker at the group’s lecture series.
“We just contacted him,” Rezac said. “We were lucky though, he is very available. He said he would be very honored to be a speaker for the Upson lecture series.”