Articles

Strengthening Our Rural Communities - 8/3/2006

By State Rep. Angie Paccione

There is nothing more basic to a nationís security than its food supply. Imagine if our economy was as dependent on foreign food as it is on foreign oil. American farmers and ranchers have kept this nation fed, and they have kept it strong. If we neglect that strength by inaction, we not only fail producers, we undermine Americaís basic sovereignty. Because our crops will play a growing role in an energy independent America, we are going to ask even more of our farmers. As they work for our food safety and energy security, we must ensure that our farmers and ranchers get the attention and support they deserve.

As your congresswoman, I will be a principled leader fighting for the security of our agriculture. I want to outline for you part of my vision for our future together. It starts with a straightforward idea: When Coloradoís farmers and ranchers are confident that their businesses will be profitable, they and their communities will maintain their tradition of securing Americaís food supply.

First, renewable energy improves Americaís security while putting dollars into farmerís pockets. While special interests work to keep us dependent, farmers and ranchers feel firsthand the effects of our political and economic dependence on foreign oil from unstable regions. Production and transport costs affect their bottom line. To start, we need to keep more energy dollars local, through consistent support for small wind systems, community-based wind farms, bio-fuels, solar, cellulose ethanol and the ability to sell surplus energy locally and regionally. Community energy independence makes America energy independent.

Second, as we create our ethanol production base, we need to know that the federal government wonít sell us short by subsidizing foreign ethanol blending. Why should Brazilian ethanol be subsidized by the American taxpayer? Just as she pulled the rug out from under the sugar beet growers who invested millions in Fort Morganís processing plant, my opponent undermines Coloradoís economy by subsidizing foreign ethanol over Colorado ethanol. That kind of special-interest logic doesnít make sense.

Third, we need to help rural Colorado maintain its heritage. We have to fight any effort to undermine the Farm Credit System, which helps younger generations going into the business. Thatís why I support the New Homestead Act to bring help to Coloradoís rural counties that are losing residents. Bringing in venture capital, increasing education levels, helping people purchase their own homes, and encouraging savings accounts will strengthen rural communities.

Fourth, we know that American consumers want to buy American beef. However, without the protection of Country of Origin Labeling, beef consumers here and abroad risk being sold co-mingled product with lower standards and quality. My opponent repeatedly votes against COOL, which may help the special interests, but it doesnít help the independent producer. While I strongly support Country of Origin Labeling, Iím skeptical of a mandatory national animal identification system that burdens producers without demonstrating its feasibility.

Agriculture is critical to Coloradoís economy. Itís no wonder that members of Coloradoís congressional delegation historically sit on the House Agriculture Committee. But a Member of Congress canít just be a placeholder. She needs to be a leader. She needs to take the initiative, seize opportunities, and stand up for her district, instead of caving in to the special interests. After four years, we know where the incumbentís priorities have been.

I have a vision for the future of rural Colorado, a future in which our farms, ranches, and towns contribute to the energy independence and national security of America, while our communities find renewed prosperity. Together, we can make that vision come true.



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Paid for by Angie Paccione for Congress