The following post is a reprint of The Ag Agenda written by Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The New Year is upon us, which means many of you have probably made a New Year’s resolution or two. The funny thing about resolutions is that they are easier to make than to keep (I speak from experience). Come January 7, that piece of cheesecake typically wins out, while the elliptical machine is already starting to gather dust.
But, when it comes to Farm Bureau, my resolutions – along with those of Farm Bureau leaders and members – never waiver. Continuing to build upon Farm Bureau’s 94 successful years of ensuring that farmers and ranchers’ voices are heard, is one resolution we do not back away from.
As we delve into 2013, Farm Bureau has several legislative and regulatory resolutions. First off is getting to know the new members of Congress as they take office and acquire committee assignments. It will be important for Farm Bureau to get to know these members and pay close attention to the makeup of the new committees, especially those important to agriculture and rural communities.
Depending on what has happened with the farm bill come Jan. 3, getting a new bill passed will be a top resolution for farmers in the new Congress. Fortunately, congressional leaders will have the farm bill legislation from the 112th Congress to use as a well-discussed head start. If need be, I am optimistic the new Congress can pick up where the last one left off and pass a five-year farm bill by spring planting time.
It also remains a priority for Farm Bureau to continue its goal of minimizing the effects of unfair taxes like the estate tax and capital gains tax. We will also continue our work in the regulatory arena and in the courts on environmental issues, like caring for the Chesapeake Bay. And we will work toward comprehensive labor reform. We need a solution that addresses agriculture’s unique labor needs with a market-based, flexible agricultural worker program, which reflects real-life workforce challenges for all crop and livestock producers.
On the executive side, we will know President Obama’s budget priorities by early February. In my estimation, his main goal will be to focus on ways to reduce the deficit. While getting the country’s financial house in order is a priority for Farm Bureau members, it will also be important to make sure that farming programs receive adequate funding to carry out their missions without taking disproportionate cuts.
Outside of the Capitol Beltway, Farm Bureau members will continue their resolve of advocating for agriculture through consumer outreach. Farmers have made significant strides in recent years of having genuine discussions about modern agriculture with their neighbors, community leaders and even strangers.
Through the use of social media outlets, like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, farmers are not only telling consumers about how they raise food and care for their animals, they are taking them onto their land and into their barns to show them. Reaching out in this manner has not always been second-nature for farmers, but by working with one another and accepting a helping hand from other Farm Bureau members, we have accomplished a lot and we can only achieve more.
By joining together in traditional Farm Bureau fashion, I am confident we can meet our 2013 resolutions head on and make the most of the many opportunities that this New Year holds.