For Texas Tech students interested in West Texas agriculture, U.S. Rep. Jodey Arrington visited the campus to speak about his experiences.
During an event hosted by the Agricultural Law Association, Arrington spoke about his experience as a member of the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee at noon on Wednesday, March 20, at the Lanier Auditorium in the Law School.
Regarding the importance of farming, Arrington said West Texas is the epicenter of agriculture.
“We lead in all things agriculture,” he said. “Ag education, ag research and technology development, ag production. Texas leads the nation in production agriculture.”
Through his work as a U.S. representative for the 19th congressional district of Texas, Arrington said he has the honor of being the voice for West Texas.
“Part of making sure that I’m a strong and effective voice for West Texas is to make sure I’m a champion for the things that make West Texas special and what will make West Texas prosper in the future,” he said. “Nothing is more important for the prosperity of West Texas than agriculture.”
Regarding his job as the state representative, Arrington said he has to be a champion for agriculture.
“I’m there in Washington working with representatives all across this country, from east to west coast, urban to suburban,” he said, “and I’m explaining to them every day, in every which way I can, the importance of ag and rural America.”
In addition to the importance of maintaining rural efforts, agriculture policy was another topic discussed.
The Farm Bill is the omnibus bill Arrington said representatives work to enforce. He said the bill consists of 12 titles, such as conservation, commodity, trade, research and rural development.
“That is a big chunk of our country’s ag policy to promote and support production agriculture,” Arrington said. “But, there are lots of other policies that play an important role.”
Trade is one aspect Arrington said is important for an agricultural economy. He said access to foreign markets and trade deals are also critical for the economy.
“I don’t think farmers or ranchers should make a living off of the Farm Bill,” Arrington said. “I’m a champion for farmers, but I’m not a champion for a welfare system for farmers where they can make a lifestyle off of it.”
To help farmers, Arrington said policies are necessary when issues occur.
“We need to make sure we have a stable economy,” he said.
Regardless of the need to promote agricultural improvements in Texas, the need to engage students in helping rural areas was another idea made aware during Arrington’s discussion.
Jack Nowlin, dean of the School of Law, said he is proud of the agricultural-based work done in the school.
“I want to say how proud we are of our students who founded the Agricultural Law Association,” he said. “That’s a thing that makes us proud.”
For some, this discussion may provide insight to how agriculture is dealt with at the federal level.
Austin Russell, senior conservation science major from Hickory, North Carolina, said he attended the event because he is interested in fresh water conservation management.
“In my classes we kind of learned about the Farm Bill and the conservation side of it,” he said. “I wanted to see if he talked about the conservation part of water.”
In addition to the topic of conservation, Russell said listening to Arrington was one part of the event he found interesting.
“Just hearing his part from the Washington side,” he said regarding the part of the discussion that stood out to him, “the policy making and what they’re doing to better the Great Plains and America, specifically for agricultural.”
Whether it be the importance of supporting rural areas or working to bring awareness for agriculture, there were a variety of topics discussed during this event.
In addition to the importance of agriculture, Arrington said he wants to express the success Texas has in agriculture.
“Why in the world wouldn’t I brag on West Texas,” he said. “Especially, when we produce the food, fuel and fire that makes the wheels turn on this great economy.”