TOP STORY >>Irrigating farms tops Berry’s list
By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader staff writer
“Give me a Democratic House and Senate, and I’ll get it done,” Cong. Marion Berry told the farmers and others assembled Thursday for Field Day 2006 at Lonoke’s Pearlie S. Reed/Robert L. Cole Small Farm Outreach Wetlands and Water Management Center.
Over a lunch of fried catfish and chicken, Berry said he would get the funds to finish what he called much-needed irrigation projects for area farmers, as well as the money to continue upgrading the Reed/Cole Demonstration farm, part of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
“I’m not going to stop until you can stand at the city limits of Lonoke and see this farm,” said Berry. Lonoke is about two miles from the farm.
Berry—a Gillett Democrat—faces Cabot’s Republican Mayor Mickey “Stubby” Stumbaugh in the November general election for the First Congressional District seat held by Berry.
Berry blamed President Bush for hampering the Bayou Meto and Grand Prairie irrigation projects.
“Give me a Democratic Presi-dent, and I’ll give you health care and affordable fuel,” he promised.
“We can afford to bring peace and prosperity back to the U.S. We already know how to do it,” he continued. “I’m excited over the prospect of the November elections.”
“I’m usually not so partisan,” Berry said, “but I had some sand in my craw and had to get it out.”
Berry slammed the Bush administration for its lax oversight followed by an 18-day “coverup” that the nation’s rice stores have been contaminated by unapproved, genetically engineered rice that the European Union and many other countries will not accept.
Routine testing by Riceland Farms turned up the contamination in January, but did not report it to the government, according to The New Standard.
Berry said that of the 535 representatives and senators in Con-gress, he is one of only 35 interested in farming.
“I feel good about the future of agriculture,” Berry told the 250 people at lunch.
He told them that bio-fuels were “an idea whose time has come” because of global warming and to large-scale investment by private industry.
The congressman said there was a lot of bio-fuel investment taking place in the lower Missis-sippi River Valley, including the Arkansas Delta.
He anticipated good farming fortunes with the emergence of China and India’s growing middle class and shrinking poverty.
“Everybody has money to buy something to eat and a cotton shirt,” he said.
Berry said it was investment in education and infrastructure that made the United States the great county it is and that such investments must be continued.