A few weeks ago when I joined Independent Greg Orman’s campaign for governor, I was proud to bring him back to western Kansas and show him some of the state’s finest agribusiness operations that contribute so much to the Kansas economy. We visited dairies, feedlots and farms and drove past more farming operations than I could count.

While Greg has visited the region many times, it was the first time he’d seen round bale cotton dotting the landscape. This recent addition to the cash crops grown here is testament to the versatility and adaptability of Kansas farmers. Faced with declining profits and the need to conserve water, Kansas farmers came together to invest in the equipment necessary to make cotton a viable alternative.

The innovation among our ag producers, and the diversity of their products, make Kansas an important player on the national and international stage. That’s what Kansas farmers are known for — getting the job done.

As a member of the state Senate representing 10 counties in the southwest corner of the state, I’ve worked hard to make sure our agriculture community has every advantage when it comes to access to markets and a level playing field.

In retaliation for recent tariffs imposed on washing machines, the Chinese government is now proposing to put tariffs on wheat, soybeans, cotton, frozen beef and aircraft, all of which are huge drivers of our economy. This looming trade war threatens to take money out of the pockets of hard-working Kansans across the state.

I’m hopeful that our representatives in Washington will speak up soon and go to bat for Kansas producers, but as a former Republican I understand firsthand the constraints of the two-party system. Members of both parties are forced to stay silent and support their party, even when it’s not in the best interests of their own constituents.

Frankly, that’s why becoming an Independent has been liberating to me. As the lone Independent lawmaker in Topeka, I no longer toe the party line or adhere to a set of partisan talking points. I speak truth to power on agriculture issues and others of importance to Kansas.

What our farmers need now are policies that promote fair trade and give them access to new markets, wherever they may be. They also need the freedom to grow new cash crops like industrial hemp, which is a potential game-changer, and the opportunity to capitalize on new value-added industries that would go along with these new crops.

These issues are too important for Kansas, and much too important for our farmers, to let partisan politics get in the way. As long as I’m in the Legislature, I will continue to raise my voice in support of the best outcomes for the people not the parties.

SEN. JOHN DOLL

Garden City