FOND DU LAC
Brad Pfaff, director of the Wisconsin Farm Service Agency, continues to be a cheerleader for agriculture despite serving as the director of a program in which he doesn't know the rules.
While farmers wait for Congress to decide what should be included in the Farm Bill, Pfaff continues to spread the word about the importance of agriculture to the state and the nation.
Speaking with delegates at the Wisconsin National Farmers Organization convention on Saturday in Fond du lac, Pfaff thanked the farmers for the work they do, especially in the sub zero Wisconsin weather, but he added, "I know you want more than a thank you."
While he could not comment on the content of the proposed Farm Bill or offer his opinion on it, he did say, "It's long past time that Congress does a Farm bill. It expired in September, 2012 and last year Congress did an extension on some parts of the bill but that extension expired Sept. 30."
Noting the diversity of Wisconsin's agriculture, he said, "We need a farm bill that recognizes the diversified agriculture we have in a state like this and we need to have a five-year farm bill that will build upon that."
He stressed the financial importance of agriculture as a nation, noting that 20 million people are directly involved in some form of agriculture and that every dollar producers get spins through the economy seven times.
"Agriculture is more than just bushels, bales and hundredweights," he said. "Agriculture is who I am. It has molded my morals and values and my outlook on life."
He adds, "We can all agree on the fact that agriculture is worth fighting for, investing in and building a greener tomorrow."
Pfaff points out that USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Villsack always talks about the fact that the majority of the people serving in the US armed forces come from farms and rural communities and bring with them the values and work ethic that comes from growing up in rural areas.
While there is not a lot he or the farmers in the audience can do to advance the Farm Bill, he said it is more important than ever to spread the positive word about agriculture and its importance to the country.
"When I see lights on early in the morning in the barn, I know what that means. I was there once. We need to remember that and tell the story. We need to recognize that these are real people doing real work."
He points out that FSA employees come from rural communities and are here to keep agriculture a viable business.
"We want to tell your story," he concluded. "It's why we need a Farm Bill and why we need an organization like yours. It's an investment in our future and in our kids' future."
Pfaff will also address delegates at the national NFO convention, hosted by Wisconsin at Wisconsin Dells on January 27-29.