By SCOTT AUST
Finney County Economic Development/Director of Communications
GARDEN CITY — Sen. Pat Roberts stopped at Garden City Community College on Thursday to visit with and provide a brief update on some of the federal legislative issues Roberts is working on.
Roberts, who has announced that he doesn’t intend to seek reelection after his current term ends, is entering his fortieth year in public service.
“When you announce that you’re not running, it’s just amazing — everybody knows it. People come up and say, ‘thank you for your service’ or ‘good luck in your retirement.’ I’m not retiring,” Roberts said. “We still have two years to go and I’m going to sprint to the finish line.”
One of the things Roberts is trying to accomplish is to get a child nutrition bill passed. He said he had a hearing in Wichita on Wednesday and toured a food production center and Brooks Middle School. Roberts said currently there are six different food programs in schools, each with its own regulations and criteria that take time, effort and money to run.
Roberts said one of the things the committee is considering is why not have at least some criteria that is the same, which may save money and avoid problems.
Roberts touted the passage last year of a five-year farm bill, which provided some much needed certainty and predictability for farmers and ranchers. The bill received 87 votes in the Senate, demonstrating a bi-partisan effort by Republicans and Democrats amid all the politics and chaos in Washington currently.
“We knew we had to get a farm bill done. That overrode any other consideration,” he said. “We worked together with no surprises. It’s called compromise. That is not a four-letter word.”
Roberts expressed concern about the Trump Administration’s trade policy when it comes to agriculture, adding that “trade retaliation is what’s really killing us on prices.” Losing markets, such as Mexico know buying wheat from Argentina, their corn from Brazil, Canada creating a trade pact with Japan, it hurts U.S. markets.
Roberts expressed some disagreement with Trump’s “all or nothing” trade policy, saying he has met with Trump numerous times but the president is “a determined guy.”
“(In a trade effort) … you don’t get 100 percent. You’re lucky to get 80 percent,” Roberts said. “Farmers desperately need price recovery. We have prices below the cost of production, all regions, all crops, almost everybody, due to the trade retaliation by China and other countries.”
Roberts also touched on climate change, noting there will be another hearing on it in near future. Roberts called climate change “a given” that everybody knows exists. The question from Roberts perspective is how to enable farmers and ranchers to deal with climate change, what kind of research should be done on it.
On immigration, Roberts said the issue has become politicized.
“There are a few first steps we could do to make this a lot easier, but we’re wrapped around the political axle and that isn’t very good,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Roberts toured the Garden City Regional Airport terminal.
“My relationship with Garden City goes way back. I want to thank the people of Garden City for the privilege and the honor of representing you in the United States Congress, both in the House and the Senate,” Roberts said.