Agriculture’s friends seeking solutions to environmental issues

Ray Starling says he can understand why many of his boss' constituents are upset about Congress' inability to pass new legislation dealing with a host of the nation's problems.

"Sometimes people from back home ask, 'Why can't we get this done?'" said Starling, chief of staff for Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C. "I have to explain it's because we have a real enemy on the issue. It doesn't matter that we have common sense. It doesn't matter the science is on our side.

"It doesn't matter that logically we could sit down and have an adult conversation about this you would agree with us. There are enemies on the other side, and, unfortunately, in this environment you don't have to be rational to still be able stop things that make sense."

Starling, a North Carolina native who was pinch-hitting for Sen. Tillis as the luncheon speaker for the Southern Crop Production Association during its annual Capitol Hill Visits event, said he and his boss have learned change comes slowly to Washington, especially in the Senate, where "it is hard to get things done legislatively. That's the way the Chamber is designed."

Tillis, who came to the Senate after defeating incumbent Kay Hagan in 2014, was tied up in a mark-up session with the Senate Armed Services Committee, which worked through lunch the day the SCPA was making its visits.

More than 50 representatives of chemical manufacturers, farm organizations and trade associations visited House and Senate members and their staffs from 11 southeastern states during the day-long event, which is now in its 20th year. 

For more information on the Southern Crop Production Association, visit

TAGS: Legislative
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