Rural lawmakers struggle to make themselves heard

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 22, 2014 at 10:04 am •  Published: February 22, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — They're an endangered species in state legislatures as more Americans move to cities and suburbs: the rural lawmaker who knows what it's like to run a farm.

Lawmakers and political experts say the dwindling numbers of farmers, ranchers and others who make their living off the land affects not just agricultural policy but other rural concerns — highways, health care, schools and high-speed Internet access.

Indiana State Rep. Bill Friend, a pork producer, said it's challenging to explain modern farming to colleagues with no personal connections with agriculture.

One Colorado representative, rancher Jerry Sonnenberg, has floated a radical idea over his frustrations at not being heard. He's pushing a proposal for each of his state's 64 counties to have a single House seat instead of awarding representation according to population.

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