Census might change seats, but not opportunity for farmers in office

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Census might change seats, but not opportunity for farmers in office

A Farm Bureau government relations specialist says the latest change in Congressional seats from this week’s Census report highlights the need for farmers and ranchers to serve in government.

Matt Kapp with the Michigan Farm Bureau tells Brownfield, “Regardless of what those district maps look like, we still need farmers representing agriculture in government.”  “I would encourage farmers, not just in Michigan, but across the country to step up,” he says.

Michigan Farm Bureau currently has set a goal to increase farmers in government by 20 percent by 2022.

Kapp says while Michigan’s population did increase in the last year, it is not keeping up with population shifts in other regions and will lose a congressional seat and electoral college vote.

“Prior to the 1970 Census, Michigan had 19 U.S. Congressional Districts and after the 2020 Census Michigan will drop to 13 so this has definitely been a gradual decline which we’ve seen since the ‘70s,” he explains.

Kapp says while redistricting is different in each state, the coronavirus pandemic has delayed the process and leaves a lot of unknowns ahead of those deadlines.

California, Illinois, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia are also losing a seat.

Jack Irvin, vice president of public policy with Ohio Farm Bureau, tells Brownfield while it is concerning, they will also be taking a look at other ways the latest data will impact rural Ohio in terms of rural economic development.

He says businesses utilize the data to decide where to expand, creating jobs, and, most importantly, federal funding is determined by the Census which they will very closely be watching to see how rural Ohio and agriculture will be impacted.

Illinois Farm Bureau tells Brownfield they are anxiously awaiting what the Illinois General Assembly redistricting map will look like now knowing Illinois will have 17 U.S. House of Representative seats.

Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon each gained a seat while Texas will add two.