On the next farm bill…

“I’ve been very, very supportive of the farm bills in the past. I’ll continue to be supportive of our farmers in the future.

“I think we’ve got a couple of problems going on as we go forward. There are more and more people in Congress that haven’t a clue what agriculture is all about and its importance.

“I argue in a couple of ways. First, I say, ‘If (farming) is so profitable, why aren’t more young people getting into it?’ Right now, the average age of farmers is 56-, 57-, 58-years-old.

“It’s very difficult to lead the (life of a farmer). It’s a wonderful occupation, but stressful. We need to be encouraging our farmers.

“The other thing (I remind fellow legislators of) is we’ve lost our manufacturing to a large extent. We’ve lost our energy production to a large extent by imported oil and products from all over the world. The last thing we need to do is get into a situation where we’re importing food.

“People say, ‘That isn’t going to happen.’ Well, it could happen very, very easily.

“The actual ‘farming’ part of the farm bill is really only 15 to 20 percent of the (total). Most of it has to do with food stamps and things like that.

“I’ll be working very hard with people like (Georgia Sen.) Saxby Chambliss, (Kansas Sen.) Jerry Moran … and others to ensure we get an equitable farm bill in place.

“Right now, with the tremendous deficit that we must get under control, I’m really concerned that the Obama administration in their efforts to secure funding for other programs will be looking (to raid farm programs). It’s something we’ll have to fight hard (for) and, certainly, I’m committed to doing that to protect the farming industry.”