Today nearly 5,000 family farmers in Indiana's Second District carry on Indiana's rich agricultural heritage. From corn, soy beans, and tomatoes to hogs and cattle, Hoosier farmers are growing the produce and livestock that drive our economy, strengthen our local communities, and provide the food we eat. As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, I will work hard to ensure that all Indiana farmers are able to bring their products to market and remain competitive in today's rapidly changing global economy.
Life for family farmers is full of challenges. The rising cost of land and energy along with unfair trade practices abroad often make it difficult for farmers--especially family farmers--to make ends meet. As a result, we must continue to invest in our heartland and provide our farmers with the tools and resources they need to remain profitable while strengthening our rural communities.
Despite these challenges, the potential within Indiana's agricultural community has never been more promising. As America begins to address our over reliance on foreign sources of energy, Indiana farmers have an important role to play in achieving energy independence. The Second District has been blessed with the resources and capacity to serve as the center of production and distribution for a new generation of ethanol and other bio-fuels. As your congressman, I will work hard to ensure that Hoosier farmers are a vital part of the solution to America's energy needs.
With the 2002 farm bill set to expire at the end of this year, we once again have the opportunity to provide our farmers with the resources and security they need to remain productive and profitable. In order to best serve the agricultural needs of Indiana, I meet regularly with local farmers. In addition, I work closely with an agriculture working group comprised of local farmers from the Second District, who advise me on agriculture policy and how decisions made in Washington affect farms back home.
In the coming months, I will begin to work with my colleagues on the Agriculture Committee to pass a new farm bill, which will provide important funding for critical conservation programs, rural infrastructure, technological advancement, and a more responsible safety net designed to protect small family farms. These are exciting times for Indiana farmers, and I am honored to represent the Second District's agricultural community and the many Americans who rely on their products.