A Rural Resolution for 2012

The dawning of a new year is a time when most of us resolve to improve our lives in some way. This year, I resolve to dedicate myself to ensuring rural America has a voice at the table as Americans grapple with the stern challenges that face our nation. There will never be a better time for rural Americans to raise up their voices as Congress debates a new farm bill and as the nation nominates Presidential candidates, chooses a President and elects a new Congress.
It is crucial that rural Americans ask tough questions of all our elected leaders. Will the farm bill finally include reforms that work for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities? Will such reforms ever be implemented, or will they be undermined when there is no longer an election on the horizon? Will efforts to stimulate the American economy include investments in proven strategies to revitalize rural communities? Will the farm bill include much needed investments in conservation, rural development and the next generation of family farmers and ranchers?

Rural voters will be vitally important in 2012. But we cannot expect candidates and elected leaders to fulfill their promises unless we are willing to take responsibility for ensuring they do. The role rural America plays in elections and policy debates this year will not be long remembered unless those of us who live here remind those candidates and elected officials, as many times as possible, that rural communities matter.

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