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Rural votes matter

—By Don Villwock
IFB President

With all the attention paid to electoral votes, swing states and major media markets, it sometimes seems that those of us who live in less populous areas just don’t matter when it comes to state and national politics.

But we do matter. In fact, we matter a lot.

According to L.J. Johnson, director of policy implementation programs at the American Farm Bureau Federation, the rural vote helped both George W. Bush in 2004 Barack Obama in 2008.

“During this election cycle both presidential candidates have frequently been seen in states that have large rural regions. Both are well aware that rural country roads are an important part of the road map that leads to the White House,” she wrote in a recent column.”

And of course, more is at stake than the White House. Control of the Senate may well be determined by rural voters in Indiana, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, North Dakota, Virginia and Wisconsin. Many House races are still competitive. And on the state level, Hoosiers have decisions to make in the race for governor as well as the Indiana House and Senate and in local races around the state.

Because farmers represent such a small percentage of the population – only about 2 percent – they must be engaged in the political process because otherwise our policy-makers at every level will not be as informed as they need to be on the issues that are likely to have a major impact on farmers and our nation’s food production system.

Farmers must themselves be well informed. One source of information is your Farm Bureau. This edition of The Hoosier Farmer lists the candidates who have been endorsed by Indiana Farm Bureau ELECT, our organization’s political action committee, and we hope you will find it useful as you make your decisions.

The fact that candidates seek endorsements from Farm Bureau is a sign that they consider these endorsements to be significant. Candidates know that Farm Bureau members take seriously the responsibilities of citizenship and that our endorsement represents a real vote of confidence in their ability. Candidates also appreciate that the IFB endorsement procedure looks beyond party affiliation and focuses on the individual candidate.

Decisions on who to endorse are reviewed by a local board of ELECT trustees. That board is made up of your fellow farmers, friends and neighbors, so it is truly a grassroots process.

The endorsements you will find in this issue of The Hoosier Farmer are the result of that process. ELECT trustees have endorsed candidates in six of the nine congressional districts and in 69 Indiana Senate and House races. These endorsements were made only after local and state ELECT trustees had carefully evaluated candidates on their records, their understanding of the issues important to Indiana farmers, and the extent to which they are likely to support Farm Bureau’s policy objectives in the future.

I hope you will study the list carefully as you make your decisions on whom to vote for on Nov. 6.

It's not about Rs or Ds. It’s about those who support our priority ag issues: crop insurance, fair trade, the livestock sector, immigration reform, property tax relief, renewable fuels and cutting down on unnecessary regulation. It’s about electing candidates who will listen to our issues and work with our members.

As the number of farmers and the number of votes they cast continues to decrease, it becomes increasingly important for us to find other ways to boost our influence, and that includes helping elect officials who share our goals and values. That’s why Farm Bureau ELECT is so important. This is critical to Farm Bureau’s success, and the success of all of agriculture. After all, it is these elected officials who will pass the laws, oversee the regulations, implement the policies, and help determine the future of agriculture here in Indiana and across the nation.

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