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Editorial: May 2018

Concerns for Congress: Farm Bill, trade

Editorial BY JOSH KRAMER

Josh Kramer, NDAREC executive vice president and general manager
Josh Kramer

 

North Dakota’s electric cooperatives are part of an important group of more than 900 electric cooperatives nationwide, all committed to the mission of empowering their members. Cooperatives are much more than energy companies – concern for community is a core principle of the cooperative business model. Knowing, believing and understanding what impacts members, both positively and negatively, affects our cooperatives.

To further our mission of advocacy for an improved quality of life for our members and the communities we serve, North Dakota’s electric cooperatives joined more than 2,000 cooperative leaders from across the nation at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s (NRECA) legislative conference in Washington, D.C., last month. While in our nation’s capital, cooperative leaders visited with decision-makers about current and proposed policies and how they could affect the places our members call home. Collectively, we discussed a wide variety of issues important to cooperatives and our members, including:

• Support for a strong Farm Bill. North Dakota’s electric cooperatives support the inclusion of a Rural Development title that includes support for continued investment into rural America.

• Protection of the Power Marketing Administrations. North Dakota’s electric cooperatives are opposed to selling or privatizing important hydroelectric assets or changing the rate structure, which would lead to increased rates for cooperative members.

• Economical/environmental solutions for carbon-based fuel. North Dakota’s electric cooperatives support policies that provide economical and environmental solutions for carbon-based fuel, such as coal.

The future of agriculture was a topic on the minds of many, and it should be. As I mentioned previously, what affects our members affects our cooperatives. As net farm income is projected to drop to a 12-year low in 2018, work begins on the new Farm Bill, and there is much anxiety over the impact proposed trade tariffs will have on ag producers and rural economies.
For me, one of the biggest takeaways from the legislative conference was hearing from Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts from Kansas, a Republican and veteran senator from a farm state similar to ours. He expressed his discontent with the proposed tariffs and expressed that it is time to put partisan politics aside, especially when it comes to passing the 2018 Farm Bill.

I couldn’t agree more. It is time for us to tell our lawmakers and those seeking to serve not to play politics with our livelihood. Let’s tell them that compromise, civility and a willingness to work respectfully with people you may not always agree with is encouraged. Let’s tell them to have courage.

I want to close by paraphrasing a comment Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, shared with our group – “Courage is not tearing down someone you disagree with; courage is being willing to stand next to them for the betterment of this country.”


Josh Kramer, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of NDAREC, P.O. Box 727, Mandan, ND 58554-0727; email to jkramer@ndarec.com.