“We must explain the importance of agriculture to the nation. The ability of America to feed and clothe itself—without depending on foreign nations—is not about left or right,” Dierschke said. “It’s not a political viewpoint. It’s about the cold, hard reality of keeping enough farmers and ranchers on the land to do the job.”

Opening trade with Cuba, immigration reform and the 2012 farm bill will be on the agenda as the new Congress convenes, as will the need to address a ballooning budget deficit.     

“Clearly, all segments of the budget are subject to cuts. We cannot expect that agriculture be spared,” Dierschke stressed to the delegates. “But, if we think of the federal budget as a gigantic, gas-guzzling SUV, doing completely away with payments to farmers would scarcely scratch the paint. We’re talking about less than one-half of one percent of the federal budget.”

Dierschke noted the ever-increasing attacks on the image of agriculture from extremist groups. He stressed that an overwhelming majority of farmers and ranchers hold high standards of animal welfare and don’t condone or defend animal abuse. He also said that farm and ranch families hold themselves to a high standard in taking care of the land, air and water of rural America.

Dierschke encouraged TFB members to defend agriculture and to stand their ground against those who deal in false information or encourage overregulation.

“There have been growing pains as we’ve adapted to these changes in agriculture and in our membership.  But we represent them all—and more,” Dierschke said. “These changes are not to be feared, but embraced as a way to make Farm Bureau better, bigger, stronger and even more capable of meeting the challenges that face rural Texas. This is Farm Bureau’s time, a time to make a difference for Texas and America.”