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Congressman Bob Gibbs discusses the state of agriculture with area farmers

Congressman Bob Gibbs addresses a group of constituents involved in agriculture at a Jan. 21 State of Agriculture informal discussion near Stone Creek.

"We have to address spending. This is a national security issue," stated newly elected Ohio 18th District Congressman Bob Gibbs (R), a former Holmes County hog farmer, when he addressed Farm Bureau members from several counties in Tuscarawas County Jan. 21. Snowstorm conditions overnight kept the early morning crowd small, but the questions posed to the new official were pointed when it came to issues surrounding spending as well as agriculture. "Right now, there is a $202 trillion fiscal gap between revenue and expenditure. Cuts alone will not get us out. We have to restore, to grow, the economy. That increases our tax base without raising taxes," Gibbs noted. "As a new Congress, we are passing at least one piece of legislation per week in cuts, with $100 billion in cuts in 2011.

"I'm really excited about the opportunities in agriculture. Here in Ohio, we are working on biodigestion processes at OARDC in Wooster, creating energy while digesting potential landfill matter. We can collect methane and burn it to create electricity. That's exciting to see."

Gibbs talked of the need to pass the Farm Bill, noting that an often misused tool called "continuing resolution," or CR, such as the one just passed in the recent lame duck congressional session, simply keeps putting off the inevitable need to make an actual decision. The next CR on the Farm Bill expires March 4.

"The last time an actual ag budget was passed was in 2003, and only CRs have been passed since," he explained. "There is a lot we need to address in the next one and a half years for the Farm Bill."

Gibbs addressed other issues critical to those whose livelihood is agriculture.

"I want to hear your opinions and concerns, as farmers, on issues such as Roundup Ready products, the dairy industry, and trade opportunities." Gibbs stated that trade is critical to agriculture, noting that if the South Korean trade agreement would move ahead in ratification, it would result in approximately a $10 per head increase in income for pork producers, making a huge impact on profits. He also stated that 26 percent of U.S. manufacturing jobs are reliant on trade.

"Trade is healthy for national security, as we build international trade relationships."

A key point the congressman focused on was the importance of Congress providing regulatory oversight for governmental agencies, particularly with the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, in order to "rein them in.

"The EPA needs more than reform. They need replaced. I agree with Newt Gingerich, who stated that, as it stands, the EPA can really hurt our economy.

"I believe we can develop our natural resources in an environmentally conscious way," he added.

"What has made this country great is that we can create wealth. We can do this in three ways. We can develop or drill for it, we can grow it, or we can manufacture things that people need. These three areas, in turn, support the vast service industry. Our government has put too many regulations in place as barriers to growth and wealth creation. We need to restore the confidence of citizens and small businesses," continued Gibbs. "We also need a multi-pronged approach to energy independence." He noted that includes drilling, solar, wind, biodigestion, and other energy sources.

"There are certain things that government should not be doing," stated Gibbs firmly in response to questions raised about federal bailouts of the financial and auto industries. "It was not the so-called government bailout that saved General Motors, it was that they declared bankruptcy. You have got to take the hits."

Gibbs also addressed concerns about technology access in rural areas, as well as keeping consumers well-informed about agriculture.

"One week a month, I will not be going to Washington, so I can stay here and meet with my constituents," explained Gibbs, noting that his district Zanesville office is in the process of opening, and can be reached at 740-452-2279.

Published: January 25, 2011
New Article ID: 2011701259956