Three Kansas senators, two congressmen warn Kansans about agricultural overstep and Afghanistan
It's not often there are three Kansas senators at an event - with mention of a fourth. But that is what happens when the Kansas Farm Bureau holds a leadership event at the Kansas State Fair - people come.
On Sept. 11, three Kansas Senators and two congressmen spoke to more than 100 Kansas agricultural leaders from all corners of the state. U.S. Senators Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall, along with former Sen. Pat Roberts and U.S. Representatives Ron Estes and Tracey Mann told Kansas Farm Bureau members what is happening in Washington, D.C., especially as it relates to agriculture. All of them honored those who died during 9/11 and said the U.S. must remain strong against terrorism.
Roberts brought best wishes from former Sen. Bob Dole, saying he wants to head back to Kansas soon.
"He wanted to know if the fair still had Pronto Pups," Roberts said.
Before he spoke and at the closing of his speech, the crowd stood to honor Roberts who served for more than two decades in Washington, D.C. He was a senator and congressman, serving on the intelligence committee and as chairman of both the house and senate agriculture committees.
"I want to thank each and every one of you," he said. "Thank you from the bottom of my heart."
Crippling the family farm for the next generation
All the legislators spoke of their concerns with the current administration and the future of farming. Moran, Marshall and Mann spoke about legislation that aims to eliminate the stepped up basis. Essentially, making it difficult for farmers and manufacturers, many mom and pop businesses that are in the family for generations, to pass their businesses or farms on to the next generation without severe cash penalties.
"Agriculture is the underpinning of our rural communities; it is vital," Mann said. "(Eliminating) stepped-up basis ends the game for our family farmers."
Without stepped up basis, the tax rates would become so high for inherited land or machinery, taking over the farm or small rural manufacturing company would be difficult. This would force the sale of many farms and rural industries.
"It (eliminating stepped-up basis) will be one of the most damaging things that could happen," Moran said. "The biggest asset of farming disappears."
He said local manufacturing would not get passed on to other family members. It would get sold, often to outside entities, and people would move out of state.
"With the absence of farm families, your community could not exist," Moran said.
All the legislators said farmers need to pay attention and speak up.
"It (eliminating stepped-up basis) would be the end of the family farm," Marshall said.
Estes said all spending is not investment. He explained investment is something that builds for the long-term and does not spend "our children’s future."
Marshall told the crowd that they are the "biggest conservationists." But they must get the word out.
"So many of you are not telling your story," he said. "If we let the federal government and other people get control of this (conservation rules) we will end up on the short end of things."
Marshall said farmers in Kansas are not getting credit for what they are already doing to help the environment. He said the U.S. has cut carbons and implemented no-till, minimum-till and cover crops for decades.
"It's innovation from people like you that will make this world cleaner, better and safer," he said.
Moran said innovation enters the state in many ways, citing more and more dollars are heading toward research. Much of it for agriculture.
All the representatives were disturbed by the Biden administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan and the leaving behind of both weapons and people. Roberts, who along with his father was a U.S. Marine, was the most vocal.
"The way it (withdrawal from Afghanistan) was handled is just ridiculous," Roberts said. "I worry about Taiwan: I worry about China. It’s a mess, and it's sad."
Roberts is concerned there is an exchange happening with regard for people leaving Afghanistan after the U.S. pullout. He also is concerned that many are not getting vetted. He reminded the crowd that their legislators are there to listen.
"You are true partners in government," he said. "Hang tough, we're going to get to a better place."