Senator Claire McCaskill traveled to Wurdack Farm last week as part of her tour around the state to talk about what she has been doing to try to alleviate farmers’ concerns about the financial impact of this year’s severe drought.
“I am painfully aware of what our livestock people are going through in the state,” Senator Claire McCaskill said to those gathered to see her at Wurdack Farm in Cook Station on Tuesday, August 14. The senator met with the small group as she concluded the second day of traveling in her statewide “Fighting for our Farmers” Barnstorm, a six-day journey that took her to rural communities in all four corners of Missouri last week.
McCaskill noted that this year’s challenge has indeed been the severe drought and talked about the work she has done in the attempt to protect cattlemen and livestock producers from the hardships this summer’s extreme drought has caused. She told the attendees that she has been doing everything she can to make sure Congress passes the Farm Bill, noting that she sees the passage of the Farm Bill as especially important for Missouri’s livestock producers because the protections that exist in the current Farm Bill cannot be extended. She expressed frustration with the fact that the Farm Bill passed in the Senate, but has been held up by Tea Party members in the House.
McCaskill spoke about the short-term crisis caused by the drought that she observed that very morning before her visit to Wurdack Farm. She had been to a cattle auction in West Plains where 3,000 head of cattle were sold while normal numbers for this time of year are usually around 500. And, she looked ahead to the long-term ramifications, asking the group, “How will we help farmers replenish their herds?”
“I am proud to be against some of the stupid ideas that have been proposed,” she continued, pointing out that she had fought against proposed rules that would have prevented children from working on family farms and ranches, a proposed requirement for farmers to have commercial drivers licenses and the imposition of farm dust regulation that would have added costs to farmers throughout the state.
McCaskill took questions from the audience, too, including one from a Korean War veteran who asked what could be done to stop the problem of the current “do-nothing” Congress (borrowing from a Harry Truman description). The man noted that he would be voting Democrat in the November election, but was concerned about the hatred shown in politics and the lack of compromise. McCaskill thanked the man for “understanding there’s not one right way,” and noted that compromise is essential, but that there seems to be “no love for moderates.” She said, “The far right and the far left are both against me. I believe in the middle—it is the core of my service.”
Another man questioned a proposal from the USDA to cut the amount of protein served in school lunches, even recommending “Meatless Mondays,” noting that would hurt the American livestock industry. McCaskill reported that the proposal had come from a lower level within the agency, but that it would not be adopted on a larger scale.
McCaskill also addressed the reason that the food stamp program is tied into the agricultural program bills, reporting that it had been done to connect representatives who are concerned about urban areas (which utilize more food stamps) and representatives who are concerned about rural areas (where there is more agriculture).
She briefly discussed the Livestock Relief Package currently under consideration and, after a question about the possibility of federal assistance to farmers who will need to transport hay and silage from other areas in the U.S. and possibly Canada, promised to look into adding something to the package to address that concern.