Here's to Hoping Washington Gets the Message

Kansas Viewpoint

Sen. Pat Roberts takes a tour of drought-stricken Reno, Kingman Counties; vows to fight to keep farm safety net

Published on: August 24, 2011
If ever there was an argument for an agriculture safety net, this year's drought devastation covering more than two-thirds of Kansas should make it.

On Wednesday, Sen. Pat Roberts was the guest of Reno County farmer Chad Basinger and his wife, Cassondra, for a tour of south central Kansas, where the only thing that's green is under irrigation and most of it isn't doing too well.

The temperature hit 107 degrees as the Senator's tour bus traversed the county roads.

Roberts joked about "rural fugitive dust" and "navigable farm ponds" as the bus kicked up a trail on the gravel roads and tour participants drove past dry pasture ponds. But the mood among the farmers on board the bus was anything but jovial.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows all but the northern two tiers of counties in Kansas in drought. The worst conditions, exceptional drought, cover most of the bottom third of the state.

Roberts talked about the team effort among state and federal agencies to address the emergency needs of farmers. He documented the $1.6 billion of revenue already lost to the state of Kansas in the current drought.

And he said, the experienced legislators on the Senate Agriculture Committee, of which he is ranking member, will do their best to see that agriculture doesn't take a fatal blow when the "Committee of 12" takes an ax to the budget.

The Senator, and his committee chairwoman Debbie Stabanow of Michigan, hold a field hearing today in Wichita on the 2012 Farm Bill. Here's to hoping that the message they hear will actually make it back to Washington.