Dana Peterson is a Middle America farm girl who has spent much of her professional life as a Washington, D.C. lobbyist.

She knows agriculture and she knows politics, and she made it quite clear at a recent meeting of the North Carolina Wheat Growers Association that the political system in Washington is broken and farmers will have to pay a high price it it’s not fixed soon.

Peterson is currently CEO of the National Association of Wheat Growers, headquartered in Washington, D.C. 

She sometimes takes a humorous look at Washington politics, but makes crystal clear the challenges farmers have in the coming years in getting a square deal from their elected officials.

She asks the question: Who is responsible for answering the letters and e-mails you send to your elected representatives and senators?

Is it the legislator’s press secretary, the senator or representative, the legislative assistant responsible for agriculture, or a 20 year old intern?

All too often it’s the intern, and that’s often the first disconnect between concerned farmers and agriculture leaders and the person the elected to work for them in Washington, she contends.

Peterson lists several reasons why senators and congressmen or congresswomen vote yes on a piece of legislation that directly affects farmers.

• Their constituency urges them to do this;

• They owe another member a favor, even though the legislation may not be in the best interest of their constituency;

• Vote yes will help be a chairmanship or other key legislative post;

• This vote will play well in the press;

• This vote will help me get re-elected;

• The national interest will be served by a yes vote;

• This vote will garner some campaign funds;

• This vote will position my party favorably among voters;

• I believe in the cause.

• The lobbyist who asked me to vote yes is particularly handsome or beautiful.

Unfortunately, Peterson says every one of these reasons is why a politician votes yes or no on a piece of legislation.