In Washington, the cherry blossoms are blooming and at home our farmers are busy working the fields. Spring is officially here. I hope that as you enjoy the beautiful days ahead of you, that you take time to think about and thank the farmers who are working so hard to make sure that your family has safe, nutritious and affordable food.
The farmers in our District and State face daunting and unique challenges as they work to sustain quality, safety and profitability. Farmers are subject to every possible local and regional variable such as weather, taxation, regulation and fluctuating prices of goods and services, all while producing goods that are subject to global market pressures and competition. Agriculture has always been a vital part of America's economy and culture. While other industries have come and gone through the centuries, agriculture has remained at the heart of American life.
Agricultural goods were among the very first products to be 'Made in America'. And such goods remain a key component to our nation's trade strategy, with food and fibers leaving America every day bound for all parts of the globe. We must increase these exports by fighting for trade deals that give our farmers and producers access to world markets. American farmers and ranchers have the know-how and work ethic and ingenuity to feed and clothe, and perhaps someday, fuel the world. I will continue to work in Congress to see that their hard work and investments are rewarded with a fair chance to compete in the global marketplace. Our nation has a rich history of providing the world with high quality products, and our agricultural products lead the way. We are a nation founded on the hard work of growing and selling of goods, and we must keep that tradition alive.
One of the keys to continuing our nation's economic recovery is to fully utilize the skills and resources we have here. From soil to seed to sweat to good business sense and sound stewardship of the environment, agribusiness and agriculture do just that. Family farms are economic engines in small, rural communities, providing jobs and purchasing goods that make the rural way of life possible for us all. The best way to preserve our small communities and the rural way of life that so many of us cherish is to increase our exports and decrease barriers, imposed from Washington, to efficient production and foreign trade.
Growing and maintaining a safe and constant supply of food and fiber in America is a matter of national security. As we have learned in a very painful way with gas and oil prices, when a nation loses the ability to produce the key elements for sustaining life and economic growth, it becomes subject to the whims of dictators, the goodwill of cartels and the mercy of other nations whose interest are not our own. We must work to insure that we are never so dependent on foreign powers for our food and clothing as we have become for our energy needs. Farmers and ranchers are all that prevent that from happening.
Agriculture also helps make possible the implementation of another American value: Charity. Be it Haiti, Japan, Ethiopia or Afghanistan, when nutritional relief arrives to help sustain those afflicted by tragedy, war or disease, it is often the products grown in America that arrive by truck convoy and airlift to keep the less fortunate of the world alive until situations in their countries stabilize. It is through the production capacity and strength of the agribusiness sector that America is able to project goodness and charity around the globe.
As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, I believe government should limit the restrictions placed on businesses which hire people, pay taxes and churn dollars through local economies, and farms and ranches certainly fall into that category. And I will make this case in the coming year as the 2012 Farm Bill is taken under consideration. Every four years, Congress sets the guidelines that will govern and regulate the agriculture industry, and I'm doing all I can to make sure our local farmers have a voice in this process. I'm continuing to meet with farmers and ranchers throughout the district, and hear the many ways in which policies are both helping and hurting business. Just as with any small business, too much government intervention adds increased burdens and requirements that many smaller farms and smaller businesses can't overcome. We need to get government off the backs of people who are creating jobs and providing the food for our tables, and remember who America's first environmentalists were--our farmers.
And finally, on a local note, in the coming weeks, farmers markets and produce stands will begin to open across the district, offering fresh, locally grown goods. If you get the chance, stop in, shop a bit and take the opportunity to visit with the local agriculture producers and vendors in your area. It is a wonderful opportunity to share with your children and grandchildren the lesson of where our food comes from and meet the everyday heroes who keep our food supply bountiful. I hope to see you there.