If you didn’t know better, you’d think that Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln was your next door neighbor or president of the local Parent-Teacher Association or maybe the mom who helps out with carpooling the kids to school. That’s a polite way of saying that she might be the most approachable, unaffected person who ever served in Congress.
Did we say that right? Hopefully so.
For many years, she’s been one of agriculture’s biggest supporters in Washington. Being the daughter of a rice farmer in Helena, Ark., we shouldn’t be surprised by that part of her personality. What makes Lincoln a bit different from her colleagues is her “Southern charm.”
She has never met a stranger and can engage anyone in conversation on any topic. That trait has served her well since being elected to the House in 1992 and the Senate in 1998. Whether it’s making remarks during a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing, speaking to a Rotary Club in Arkansas or delivering a message to the Delta Council in Mississippi, she showcases an engaging connection to audiences and doesn’t polarize the electorate in the process. In other words, she speaks our language.
Can someone be that approachable? Is her support for agriculture that strong? Is she that bipartisan? Yes, to all questions. After visiting the senator in her Little Rock office one Saturday afternoon, our preconceived thoughts were reinforced. She is indeed a person who doesn’t speak about agriculture in broad generalities. In short, Sen. Lincoln knows the issues inside and out and won’t compromise the interests of farmers.
For that reason, her comments on pages 10, 11, 12 and 13 in a wide-ranging interview with Cotton Farming are illuminating and informative. Her sphere of influence in the Senate is growing because it’s obvious that she knows how to work in a bipartisan manner with Republican colleagues when it comes to farm policy.
As one cotton industry leader recently told me, “I’d hate to think where we’d be if we didn’t have Senator Lincoln in Washington.” That would seem to be the highest compliment a senator could receive from constituents. In no way should this high praise infer that other senators in Washington don’t have agriculture’s interests at heart. It simply means that she is in the same league with Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and others who carry the banner for our industry.
Sen. Lincoln’s ties to her roots in Arkansas are real and give her a special insight into agriculture’s unique challenges. For that reason, we say thanks for always being there to help farmers in this country.
If you have comments, send them to: Editor, Cotton Farming Magazine, 5118 Park Ave., Suite 111, Memphis, Tenn., 38117. Or send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.