Marshall speaks to coronavirus concerns, hears wind farm and pipeline issues from farmers

Jennifer Stultz
U.S. Congressional Representative Dr. Roger Marshall speaks with area farmers and ranchers at a Sunday meet and greet stop at the Pratt County Historical Museum. Anita and Jerry DeWeese were two of many farmers in attendance who visited with Marshall at the Pratt County Farm Bureau-sponsored meeting.

Kansas Congressional Representative Dr. Roger Marshall made a quick stop in Pratt on Sunday, March 15, to visit with area agricultural representatives at the Pratt County Historical Museum. Keeping his hands in his pockets was difficult at first, but understood by the small crowd gathered, in light of coronavirus concerns.

"I'm here to seek your support for a run for the United States Senate, but let's talk about what is on everyone's minds first, the coronavirus," Marshall said. "I feel like we are doing everything we can to slow this virus down, to minimize it, all those things. I think President Trump is doing everything that is possible."

The meeting, sponsored and organized by the Pratt County Farm Bureau, was one of 40 stops that Marshall said he was making in two weeks, as he stumped through the state visiting Kansas Farm Bureau organizations and agriculture strongholds.

"If there ever was a time for the farm bureau to step up and throw their weight behind an agriculture candidate, now is that time," Marshall said. "We need a Republican and someone with farm interests as a priority on the United States Senate, and I am that person. I'm the only candidate running that can separate heifers and steers."

Marshall addressed several ag-related issues including trade markets, which have been and will continue to be severely threatened by the worldwide COVID-19 disease. He thanked President Trump for his work on the USMCA (United States, Mexico, Canada) trade agreement, which Marshall said would open markets for Kansas products.

"We now will have an equal platform with other countries on tariffs," he said. "It gives us better markets in dairy and beef. It's a great step forward, but the coronavirus has really stopped it temporarily in it's tracks."

Marshall said he had also been dedicated to biofuels negotiations, access to the pump issues, rules and regulations for water rights, soil conservation, endangered species acts follow-up and sorghum (milo) markets. He also addressed the e-Log issue that affects cattle haulers and fake meat labeling that is currently regulated by the FDA.

"Sometimes it feels like we go one step forward and two steps backwards, but I continue to fight hard for agriculture and want to take my experience to Senate," he said. "I need your support for that."

Marshall listened to several participant comments during a short question and answer section at his Pratt stop, promising to do some investigating into issues brought up by Barry Bortz, Pratt County farmer, and Paul Unruh, Kiowa County farmer.

Bortz detailed problems he and area landowners were having with the Next Era Wind Farm in regards to high-voltage electricity pumping through fences where there was no oversight on wind farm transmission lines.

"We can't afford the liability and have been told adjoining landowners and tenants have no rights when it comes to connection lines that cross our pastures and fences," Bortz said.

Marshall promised to look into that matter as well as into another concern Bortz brought up, bio-security for land in Pratt County where Phillips 66 is bringing the Liberty Pipeline through.

"It seems there should be some sort of multi-state legislation in place to protect us, as this is going through three states," Bortz said. "Our own county has refused to look into the matter for us, and we don't know where to turn, but other states have protection. This is a 24-inch line going all the way from Wyoming to Oklahoma. It crosses our feedlots, our pastures, where is our protection if something should go wrong?"

Unruh asked Marshall about his ability to work with others, to educate them about the importance of agriculture.

"Senate relations are shot," Unruh said. "The part of society where people work together for the better of all has died. There is a disconnect between rural and urban that needs to be fixed."

Marshal said he remains hopeful that Republicans and Democrats can work together in a positive manner in the future.

"My life is nothing like what you see on television," Marshall said. "I have supper with several Democrats two times a week. I have bi-partisan prayer partners, we have promise-keeper meetings, we go to the gym and shot baskets often. We might disagree on policy, but we all still have the same goals, to serve our country and our constituents. I pray every day for the relationship between Pelosi and Trump."

Marshall grew up in Butler County, working on his family farm and for local sale barns. He values his long-investment in Kansas agriculture and was a member of the House Ag Committee and the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Committee. He first ran for Congress in 2016 and continues to be a strong advocate for agriculture. He will be on the Kansas ballot as one of four candidates running for a seat on the United States Senate in August 2020.