What is government's role in agriculture?
It is easy to consider government a hindrance to our industry. Especially when we read blogs like http://blog.heritage.org/2010/09/22/red-tape-rises-again-cost-of-regulation-reaches-1-75-trillion/ that discuss how much of our budget is monopolized by regulation. I cannot even begin to fathom how much a trillion dollars is (or 1.75 for that matter), but putting it into perspective that the entire farm bill was projected to have cost $286 Billion for a 4 year period, helps a little. (Although I am sure that the farm bill then also has its fair share of regulations as well). Bottom line: That is a tremendous amount of money.
On the other side of the coin, (especially since I did just bring up the farm bill) I have been the recipient of a grant (EQIP) http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/index.html#prog which has made it possible for me and my husband to position ourselves to be far more profitable then before (while not eroding soil). As a new farming couple, it is so very cost prohibitive to say " I want to be a farmer". The start up costs are astronomical! So in this case government involvement or accessibility is a great thing!
Keeping this in mind, I also have experiences positive government involvement in Ohio through our CAUV program (land tax breaks for farmers in Ohio) http://www.co.williams.oh.us/auditor/audit11_2.htm and even though our taxes are set to go up an undetermined amount of money, it is still a huge cost savings for us, the farmers of Ohio.
So how much government involvement is a benefit? I think the answer lies in how involved we are involved in the government. Ideally the government is of the people, by the people and for the people. The theme there is people. Not just the people who really like reading about themselves, and not just the people who were born into a family with gobs of money.. but everyday people like you and me (unless you are reading this and you have gobs of money :)- sorry ). We need to be active in the legislative process to ensure that our rights are protected and our way of life is preserved. The Ohio Farm Bureau does a great job of allowing me to learn about that process, and I am forever thankful for that. But what if you are not involved in FB or some other group?
I suggest you figure out where your interests are, and get involved... and as time progresses the opportunity will arise where you can get involved. Do it! Get involved, and keep the level of government just right, because it will be filled with people who are just right! Just like me and just like you. I love agriculture and I love this country, and those two facts will never change.