Washington, DC — As the pandemic winds down, the halls of Congress are slowly filling up again with constituent groups wanting to be heard.
This week, farmers and ranchers from Oklahoma were among those looking for some quality time with their representatives, who have a history and reputation of supporting the nation’s agriculture sector. Those who made the trip here this week say that reputation holds true today.
“Our Senators and Representatives, they’re in tune with what’s going on in Oklahoma,” said Hollis farmer Robert Williams.
Williams is a fourth-generation farmer in Harmon County. He says he produces wheat and cattle mostly, and says it's been a struggle lately.
“We’ve had good commodity prices, but input prices are going up faster than commodity prices right now,” said Williams.
He and John Grunewald were two of about a dozen with Farm Credit Western Oklahoma bringing their issues to the Capitol this week. Grunewald is the President and CEO.
“it’s difficult enough to get started in farming and ranching today without the additional tax burden of estate taxes,” said Grunewald, “and we’re concerned about that.”
The group found a sympathetic ear in Congressman Kevin Hern.
“Most of us in America that are families and farmers and small businesses, we want to pay our taxes, we wanna pay what we rightfully owe, and we want to be left alone,” said Rep. Hern.
The farmers worry about additional regulations and paperwork related to climate initiatives, such as a possible new methane rule, and the delegation gets it.
“The more regulations they put on these farms, the less likely they are able to survive,” said Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK2), “they’re already hanging on literally by a thread.
“There’s no better climate management people than farmers and ranchers,” said Grunewald, “nobody cares about the environment more than farmers and ranchers.”
That’s a big part of the message, and a big part of the reason they came to DC.
“If we’re not at the table, we are on the menu,” said Williams. “We have to be involved with legislation as it goes.”