Op-ed: The crucial connection between rural and urban

By Guest Author

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By Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, II

I recently had the chance to attend the Missouri Farm Bureau Breakfast in Washington. It was a pleasure to see new faces, meet new people, and get the chance to listen to concerns about agricultural issues. As the former mayor of Kansas City, many people often think I have been a city person all of my life. But my roots are in the small Texas town of Waxahachie.

 Together we can feed the Bees

In fact, some of my earliest memories come from helping both sets of my grandparents on their farms. Milking June, the cow, picking corn, and feeding the animals were all part of a normal day. Those experiences stay with me today, along with the work ethic they and my grandparents and parents, instilled in me.

Thanks to redistricting, I now have the opportunity to serve new constituents. I am proud to serve as the representative for my old and new constituents alike. I believe there is a strong and critical connection between rural and urban communities. A connection we must recognize, appreciate, and work to grow, in order to continue to revitalize and reenergize all areas.

There are, indeed, a full-plate of concerns we are dealing with in Missouri's Fifth District, and in Washington. Cuts from the Sequester continue to create economic uncertainty, and the impact on the state and local communities is just beginning. 

In Washington it seems we simply move from one crisis to the next. This is not legislating. And this is what has kept us, in my opinion, from passing a long-term, comprehensive farm bill. The multi-month delay has lowered the baseline budget, which leaves less money available for farm programs.

I have often said that bees cannot sting and make honey at the same time. One of the problems we face in Congress is this preoccupation with stinging. As a result, we cannot make honey. In essence, we cannot get things accomplished.

It is hard to sit down at a table to negotiate and create policy when both sides are continually calling each other names - and trying to ‘sting' one another. We do not serve you when we are busy serving ourselves.

Listening with open minds and hearts is an important function in moving this country forward in a meaningful and positive way. We need civility, compromise - and some good ‘ole common sense.

About the author:  Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II is now serving his fifth term representing Missouri's Fifth Congressional District.  Prior to that, he served for twelve years on the city council of Missouri's largest municipality, Kansas City. Cleaver was elected as the city's first African American Mayor in 1991 and served for eight years.


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