Van Orden vows to become voice of farmers in Congress

Rep. Derrick Van Orden
Rep. Derrick Van Orden

Daniel Webster is quoted as saying, “Let us not forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins, other arts will follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civilization.”

The Third Congressional District is home to thousands of farmers who drive our economy and maintain our cultural heritage. 

Since being sworn into Congress, we have continued to build on our work over the past three years by holding listening sessions with agriculture leaders across the district, and by speaking to hundreds of dairy experts, cranberry growers, and farmers of all commodities. 

The top three issues affecting their ability to feed the nation are skyrocketing input costs, a broken immigration system leading to a lack of labor resources, and ambiguous, confusing, and onerous regulations.  

Farm production expenses are up nearly $80 billion, led by an 84 percent increase in fertilizer expenses and a 65 percent increase in fuel expenses. Both of these are primarily driven by the Biden administration’s war on American energy. 

Farmers are being crushed by inflation prices making it more expensive to fuel equipment, feed livestock, and run their businesses. Yet, the Biden administration continues to spend recklessly, forcing taxpayers to foot the bill.

Meanwhile, labor shortages are exacerbated by a broken immigration system. Farmers rely on seasonal immigrant labor, but they need help year-round. We need reforms that both bolster a consistent labor force and support legal immigration.

Unfortunately, President Biden’s administration has been fraught with ambiguous regulatory processes for farmers. Recently, I cosponsored legislation alongside 153 Members of Congress that would reverse the new rule issued by the EPA that defines “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. 

Not only do Biden’s actions add to farmers’ regulatory burden by forcing them to obtain permits for basic tasks like digging a ditch, applying pesticides, or constructing a fence or pond. They mean that farmers could face legal penalties, including jail time and excessive fines, for making simple changes to their property. 

This is the latest incident in the barrage of attacks on Wisconsin agriculture and the rural way of life. There is a lot of work to be done to ensure that Wisconsin’s agriculture community can not only survive, but thrive.

As the newest member of the Agriculture Committee in the House of Representatives, my mission is to become the dairy and cheese expert in Congress. Our farmers have lacked a voice for too long. I look forward to speaking out for farmers and agriculture workers in Wisconsin’s Third District and across the nation.