By Danielle Smith
One wouldn’t expect to hear the sound of laughter while walking into a political debate between a republican economics professor and a blue dog democrat politician, but this is exactly what could be heard throughout the halls of the Hyatt Hotel at the Ag Media Summit this morning.
This popular event was known as The Great Debate—and what a debate it was between Charlie Stenholm, a blue dog democrat who has served in the U.S House of Representatives for the last 26 years, and Barry Flinchbaugh, a retired agricultural economics professor at Kansas State University and farm magazine columnist.
After listening the introduction of these two men it wouldn’t be surprising if this debate came with boxing gloves, but instead, the room was full of laughter and optimism.
Stenholm and Flinchbaugh were discussing political issues that effected agriculture, economics, the food industry, and the farm bill. All extremely important issues to todays’ world and also extremely controversial. As each man presented their side of the argument they kept the crowd engaged and entertained with their witty banter and sense of humor.
Flinchbaugh, a highly opinionated and possibly outspoken man, came right out with his views and spoke of the crisis we face in the future—feeding 9 billion people. He even went as far as apologizing to the young people in the room for the “mess that his generation is leaving behind.” Even with all this talk of issues and a poor economy, he stayed optimistic by speaking of his students who he stated are aware of the issues and ready to take on the challenge.
Stenholm focused many of his points on the need for congress to be more dedicated to their jobs and also for a new energy act. He stated clearly that congress has to make some decisions and get the debt under control.
Although each of the men come from very different backgrounds and have different political views they were able to agree on many of the issues. They both believe congress is going to have to “stop kicking the can” on the farm bill and make some decisions. They also agreed on economical decisions that need to take place in the future to get the U.S. out of debt.
This debate was one of many seminars that agricultural communication professionals and students attended at the annual Ag Media Summit. The Ag Media Summit is the biggest meeting of agricultural communication professionals and is being hosted in Albuquerque, N.M., this year.
“If those two would have taught my economics class maybe I wouldn’t have fallen asleep and learned something,” are the kinds of comments being made as the program ends and everyone exits the room. It is clear to see from the crowds’ reactions that this really was—a great debate.