Source: Agricultural Retailers Association

Each year, the Agricultural Retailers Association (ARA) presents the organization's Legislator of the Year Award to a member of Congress who has worked closely with ARA in helping to champion legislation important to the agricultural retail industry. This year, ARA decided to honor Congressmen Sam Graves (R-Mo.) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) with this award. Since both men are also involved in their own family farms, they understand the needs of the agriculture industry and work tirelessly on issues that ensure a productive future for America's farmers and agribusiness.

"As I visit with agricultural retailers across the country, the number one issue they bring up as a threat to their business is the Hours of Service issue. It's hard enough to find qualified drivers in many of these rural communities, and the statutory interpretation by FMCSA compounds an already difficult situation," said ARA President & CEO Daren Coppock. "Congressman Graves and Congressman Luetkemeyer have led the Congressional effort to reassert the intent of Congress on this issue, making it possible to serve the needs of farmers during their busy seasons. We're happy to recognize their efforts with this award."

Congressmen Graves and Luetkemeyer have also shown tremendous support for agriculture through their efforts serving on the House Agriculture Committee. ARA commends them on their continued dedication to issues of relevance to the entire agriculture industry.

"All Americans depend on agriculture three times a day," Graves said. "We have the safest, most abundant food supply in the world because of our farmers. It is an honor to be recognized by ARA. I look forward to working with them to ensure American agriculture remains the backbone of our economy far into the future."

"Our farmers were the first conservationists and environmentalists. I will continue to listen to the concerns of agriculture and work hard on their behalf to ensure they are able to continue to feed and fuel our nation," Luetkemeyer said. "I am honored to receive this award on behalf of all the hard work and dedication shown by agricultural retailers and their farmer customers across our great country."

Congressmen Graves and Luetkemeyer will be recognized later this year during the 2010 ARA Conference & Exposition at the Westin Mission Hills Resort in Rancho Mirage, Calif.