"We want to have a seat at the table."
After three years, Kansas' First District has a voice on the United States House Agricultural Committee.
Congressman Roger Marshall was chosen by First District voters to represent them in the House of Representatives in part on the promise that he would be able to reclaim the district's seat on the agriculture committee, which makes recommendations on bills that directly affect farmers and farm-related industry.
"We want to have a seat at the table," said Adam Baldwin, a McPherson County farmer who serves on the U.S. Grains Council's Asia Advisory Committee. "Especially with commodity prices low, things like crop insurance and the next ag bill are important, and we want someone to represent Kansas producers."
Agriculture and related industries account for about 60 percent of the First District's economy. The first district encompasses roughly two-thirds of Kansas.
"My placement on the House Ag Committee will be vital for the state's voice and economy," Marshall said. "My staff and I have a breadth of experience on ag issues, and I am confident that we will be the Kansas farmer or rancher's strongest ally in Washington."
Crop insurance is a top priority for Kansas farmers, especially with low crop prices, since the insurance protects against economic loss in addition to loss of crops from natural disasters.
"It's a safety net that needs to be there for the security of the United States' food source," said Jenny Goering, McPherson County farmer and member of the county's farm bureau board.
Another topic of interest is the ability to export commodities across the world.
"We are sitting on huge surpluses right now," Goering said. "The more we can sell, the better it is for farmers."
The export market includes non-food uses for agriculture products, such as ethanol. Baldwin said access to such markets is good for farmers and the environment.
"If we promote ethanol exports, it can help with carbon emissions," Baldwin said. He also said some foreign trade, in particular with China, has slowed or stopped in recent months, and he hopes to see those options reopened.
"We look to [Marshall] to understand our strengths and challenges, and not only represent us in Washington but also understand how global relations and trade affects us," said Darrell Pankratz, CEO of Prairieland Partners. "We need someone to pay attention to trade as well as the environment, so that he can make responsible, appropriate decisions."
Marshall said he intends to promote strong crop insurance and trade deals, as these are the concerns farmers brought to his attention during his campaign.
"We have to fight for both a strong safety net, as well as the economic opportunities that prevent us from needing to use it," Marshall said.
With farmers and ranchers making up just 2 percent of the United States population, Goering said it's important for someone to speak on their behalf.
"There's fewer and fewer farmers in the United States, and it can be difficult to have our voice heard. In a state that relies so much on agriculture, it's important for us to be represented," she said. "I think he's going to have his hands full, and I hope he represents us well."