The American Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors has established priorities for the organization’s strategic action plan for 2013. Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman says the plan represents the issue areas where the board believes the federation and its grassroot members will have real opportunities to achieve success. He says it also highlights challenges to tackle to help safeguard the ability of Farm Bureau members to operate their farms and ranches. Aggressively working to secure passage of legislation early in the year that addresses long and short-term ag labor needs is one priority for Farm Bureau. According to a recent Farm Bureau economic analysis - five-billion to nine-billion dollars in annual production is in jeopardy if the employee shortage can’t be filled. Stallman says comprehensive immigration reform through legislation is needed to solve the ag worker problem. Stallman notes a reliable and efficient inland water system for shipment of farm goods is essential to the competitiveness of U.S. agriculture. That’s why another Farm Bureau priority is passage of the Water Resources Development Act and reform of the harbor maintenance and inland waterways trust funds. Securing passage of a new farm bill that includes a farm income safety net and crop insurance products to provide risk management tools that help protect farmers from catastrophes - including programs that provide emergency assistance for livestock and specialty crop producers not covered by farm programs or federal crop insurance - is also a Farm Bureau priority.
In addition - the board directed Farm Bureau to defend standards and incentives necessary to further develop the U.S. renewable fuels industry; oppose Environmental Protection Agency efforts to expand the scope of navigable waters subject to federal regulations under the Clean Water Act; oppose expansion of federal Clean Water Act permit requirements for poultry and livestock farmers and ranchers; protect the tax interests of farmers and ranchers in debates on fiscal policy and tax reform; and protect the interests of farmers and ranchers in development of Food and Drug Administration food safety regulations.
Stallman says the year’s priorities are built upon the dedicated efforts of Farm Bureau’s grassroots members working together during the annual meeting and throughout the year to achieve policy goals that will benefit all of agriculture - as well as consumers at home and around the globe.