Jeff Fortenberry

10/18/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 10/18/2019 17:40

Fort Report: Farm Country

The first lesson in emergency care is: Airway, Breathing, Circulation. The vital signs for life. If the Airway is open, a person can get oxygen to the body. If there is regular Breathing, the body is moving toward recovery. If there is Circulation, the heart is beating, blood is getting to essential organs.

Last week, I drove through small-town Nebraska and saw up close Nebraska's vital signs for the nation. First stop, a Nebraska tradition, a coffee club of retired gentlemen in Columbus. We talked about improvements to the city's World War II Higgins Boat memorial (a replica proudly sits on Normandy Beach in France). We also discussed our broken southern border and their collective disappointment over the harsh partisan divide.

During our visit, I noticed a businesswoman sitting behind me. I invited her to join the table.

'I'm a Democrat and I don't belong over there,' she said. 'That's OK,' one man said while pointing across the table to his friend, 'He is too.'

'I'm talking to Nebraskans, not Republicans or Democrats,' I added.

The blockage in the political airway was cleared.

After the coffee shop, we pulled up to a large feedlot in Platte County. As I exited the car, the brisk Nebraska wind nearly took the door off its hinges. Walking up to the prefab office building, I climbed two or three stairs, over four farm dogs, and soaked it in: It's so great to be back in Nebraska.

In an extended visit, I was reminded of the complex reality of a Nebraska cattleman-running an operation, helping with city issues, cattlemen associations, energy co-ops, land management advisory boards. And transitioning to the next generation. As my cattleman friend said, 'You know, we just want to be good neighbors. We're Nebraskans.'

I headed next down the road to Aquinas Catholic High School and visited with seniors in American History. As I was discussing the difference between federalism and states' rights, and amendments to the constitution, a young woman suddenly raised her hand and asked, 'What about abortion?'

When so many are focused on the brutal politics in DC, it was a teenager who brought me back to the fundamental reason I serve: to protect human dignity. Through all stages of life. Through sustainable economics, national and natural security, and establishing the guardrails for civilized society. If this class was any indication of the future leaders we are raising in Nebraska, I'm confident that our values will be circulated throughout our communities for years to come.

As we rode back to Lincoln through Bee, hoping to catch a quick conversation with a farmer in a field, I took a left on a gravel road, and in the distance saw a combine working a large soybean field. The farmers were changing the header. Given the impending cold weather, I thought to myself, 'Let's don't bother them.'

While DC seems to operate under emergency room procedures, perhaps Nebraska is the medicine the country could look to for healing.

I took a bit of our Heartland into congressional testimony this week. If you like, open these clips of the action in Washington.

Natural Resources Committee Hearing on Recovering America's Wildlife Act

Agricultural Subcommittee Hearing on USDA Food and Nutrition Programs