Growing up on a farm, my brother, sister and I heard “you reap what you sow” more than once. The old adage was used in a number of scenarios, all of which involved hard work for a benefit that was rarely instantaneous. Planting and tending the garden was one such task.
Dad always ran the tiller and would then help my brother and me make rows using metal stakes, old baler twine and a hoe. My mother planted row after row of green beans, radishes, lettuce, onions and other vegetables. My sister helped too, although it wasn’t uncommon for her to be distracted by the compelling urge to search for newborn kittens in the nearby barn.
Planting the garden really wasn’t so bad; after all, we knew the payoff would come in a few weeks with the first of the vegetables.
I couldn’t help but be reminded of the “you reap what you sow” saying as I read President Obama’s latest State of the Union address and watched the speech online the next day. (Watching evening television isn’t always an option with a toddler and baby in the house!) He highlighted a number of issues and initiatives important to American agriculture such as opening foreign markets for the products we produce and increasing the availability of American-made energy, to name a couple. Yet, it is important to realize policy successes are usually years in the making.
The trade deals with Panama, Colombia and South Korea were negotiated several years ago under the previous administration, but languished until last fall when President Obama and his congressional allies finally decided to submit them to Congress for approval, but only if his “Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act” moved, too.
It is true U.S. energy production of all kinds is on the rise, but that didn’t just happen overnight. The Energy Policy Act of 2005, for instance, included provisions to increase domestic oil, natural gas and renewable energy production. Investments and policy changes made then are paying off now. Farm Bureau certainly welcomed the President’s call for an “all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy.” Perhaps he read the Missouri Farm Bureau policy book, because that’s what our members have been advocating for years.
Policymaking is not an easy task, especially when mixed with political rancor that complicates and slows the legislative process. But when successes do come, such as the two mentioned above, they shouldn’t be attributed to just one elected official or all of them. Farm Bureau members deserve credit for having the foresight years ago to “plant the seed” with their elected officials to advance domestic energy production and expand export opportunities. That’s why we won’t give up on issues such as repealing the death tax, lowering capital gains taxes and preventing misguided federal regulations. Perhaps these will be talked about in future State of the Union addresses. We reap what we sow.