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April 02, 2019 | Arlette Sambs
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Pick Up the Pace

Can the government please find a way to work faster?

Having recently returned from the International Production & Processing Expo, there are several things going through my mind.

First, the event enjoyed a new record for total attendees, certainly a testament to the need for and interest in everything the event delivered.

Second, technological advances continue to spur new developments in products that can help you improve quality, boost productivity and communicate in realtime across various facilities, and with customers and suppliers. So many great things are here and more to come!

And third — something that has irked me and most of the people I talk with for a while — federal government shutdowns don’t help anything! 

I am rarely one to talk politics in a business setting. But in listening to John Stewart, manager of government affairs for the American Feed Industry Association during his TECHTalk at the event, it was clear that while some progress is made, at times the government can’t help but get in the way. His wish list for things he’d like to see from the federal government for this year included farm bill implementation, tariffs removal, ingredient review appropriations and keeping the government open (my emphasis added.) Sorry, but it almost seems silly to have that on a list! 

I won’t pretend to understand what Fox News or MSNBC pundits say about the strategy or political impacts behind a shutdown. The fact is, a shutdown has an immediate and long term affect on agriculture. As Stewart explained, “Every week of shutdown puts government work a month behind.”

Which is the last thing any of us can afford! And it’s not just various, important and timely reports on ag-related issues, it’s that we can’t afford to have things bog down even further than they already are. While the current administration has promised to eliminate restrictive policies, there remains plenty of room for improvement. For example, Stewart noted, ingredients suppliers submit products for review and approval, but the process may take “three to five years for a response.” 

Yes, there are staffing shortages in various government agencies. There are constantly shifting demands on an array of federal operations. But, while most politicians at least pay lip service to efficiency, they put partisan will ahead of public need, shut down the government and rarely look back to see the impact on the people that put them in office. 

I’ve always believed that the pace of business was fast — even hectic — by necessity.  It’s probably too much to ask, but how I wish our elected officials could get that sense of urgency!  

Come on people, pick up the pace! ■

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