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Weekly Column: From the Sandhills to Capitol Hill

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By Deb Fischer

Before arriving to Washington, I lived and worked on our family ranch for 41 years with my husband, Bruce, in the Sandhills of Nebraska. With daily chores and caking cattle around Sunny Slope Ranch, I quickly developed an appreciation for the lay of the land. The ranch is pieced together by fertile pastures, rolling hills, seeping waterways, weathered gates, barbed-wire fences, and a boundless Midwest sky. As we celebrate National Agriculture Week, let us remember that being a farmer or rancher is more than just a job; it is a way of life 365 days a year.

Every day there is work to be done, and it is one of life's most noble callings -- to care for the land and God's creatures, to be stewards of our natural resources, and to feed the world.

Nebraska farmers and ranchers have a unique understanding of the changing seasons. From living on the land, we learn the dampness of spring, the smell of freshly-mowed summer hay, fall nights lit by a Harvest Moon, and the sound of crunching snow beneath labored steps during a bitter, cold winter.

We know the smell of rain, the precise moment when the weather snaps and skies transform; we know the change in cloud color will result in hail, tornadoes, dust, rain, or snow. At times, it is a rancher against the elements of nature.Yet, Nebraska's producers persevere with tenacity and recognize the passion and rewards of living everyday caring for livestock and cultivating the land.

In commemoration of March 19, 2013, the 40th annual National Ag Day, I cosponsored Senate Resolution 81, introduced by Senator Mike Johanns. The resolution honors the family farmers and ranchers, researchers, entrepreneurs, businesses, and innovators for their commitment to meet the growing need for food, feed, fuel, and fiber, while driving the agriculture economy. National Ag Week, March 17-23, is a time to recognize the hard work, dedication, and in-depth knowledge our farmers and ranchers have for the land, livestock, advancing techniques, and technology of modern agriculture.

During the campaign I often stated, "We need someone to bring Nebraska to Washington, not Washington to Nebraska." I am working diligently to bring commonsense to Washington and part of that goal is to protect and promote Nebraska agriculture.

As I transition from the Sandhills to Capitol Hill, I personally recognize the challenges Nebraska farmers and ranchers face every day. I am working to reduce the burdensome federal regulations impacting agriculture. Nebraskans understand our state's economic backbone is agriculture, contributing more than $21 billion to Nebraska's economy annually. For this reason, it is important to promote our farmers and ranchers through smart agricultural policy.

Families invest time, resources, energy, and faith toward the goal of providing America with safe, abundant, and affordable products. As Nebraska's 46,800 farms and ranches face challenges of drought, flooding, and fires, it is our responsibility to equally invest in risk management tools producers need to succeed.

Washington must fulfill its commitment to America's farmers and ranchers by passing a multi-year farm bill to provide certainty to producers and ensure the continued viability of crop insurance.

National Ag Week is about telling and appreciating the story of the farmer and rancher doing what they do every day -- growing not only our food, but also our economy, our communities, and our quality of life here in America. These families grow the meals we eat, the clothes we wear, and the fuel we use to drive to and from home. We are all connected to agriculture, and it is time we, as a nation, appreciate the industry that provides for us each and every day. Take time this week to thank a farmer and rancher in your community.

Thank you for participating in the democratic process, and I look forward to visiting with you again next week.

Deb Fischer
United States Senator


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