Legislators welcome input as session returns

(Journal stock photo.)

As farmers and ranchers plow their way through a winter already filled with snow and cold, they know other priorities are kicking in. Whether it is taking care of livestock or heading to meetings, January is also a reminder of civic duty to stay in touch with state legislators. 

Throughout the High Plains Journal region legislative bodies are returning to do their work with many competing interests seeking a limited number of tax dollars. Unlike the federal government, states in the High Plains have a balanced budget provision and that requires bipartisan action. 

As society continues to be more urban it means rural lawmakers have more expansive districts. The story of production agriculture and the businesses that support them must be told to elected officials. Lawmakers have influence and they can lend advice to governors to help tell why unneeded regulations or counterproductive laws hurt growth opportunities. 

Dave Bergmeier
Dave Bergmeier

Most success stories involving businesses and farmers and ranchers are a result of entrepreneurs who see a potential market and are willing to go out and take a risk. The payoff means added opportunities to the communities they reside in. Win-win opportunities are what urban cousins also seek and that commonality is something to build upon. 

In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly is looking for sustainability of the Ogallala Aquifer in the western part of the Sunflower State and also for water quality preservation projects in the eastern region. Her predecessor, Sam Brownback, also had similar view and although they came from different ideological perspectives, both governors recognized that water is the lifeblood of rural and urban communities. 

We hope the momentum continues as there is no denial that drought has lowered the Ogallala’s depth. That means conservation of that resource, which has benefitted farmers and ranchers, feedyards, dairy operations and processing centers for beef and dairy enterprises, are all going to need to have input. 

As it is with most legislation and regulations, the willingness to find common sense compromise is necessary. Other matters will continue to be important to rural residents including funding public schools, holding the line on property taxes and making sure today’s youth feel they have a future in their community and state. 

Commitments to rural roads, public safety and a backstop to help those in need are all important, too. 

Staying in touch with constituents has been a value pursued by legislators who know that whether it is a chamber of commerce coffee early on a Saturday morning or through a phone call, email or letter, those are important conversations. 

If asked to testify before a committee or attend a field hearing, we encourage farmers and ranchers and rural residents to do so. 

All legislative sessions are important and 2024 is no exception. They require all of us to be informed and be good listeners. We should also follow this code of the west statement: “It’s OK to disagree, just don’t be disagreeable.” 

Dave Bergmeier can be reached at 620-227-1822 or [email protected].