AFBF President: Farmers Have Right to Personal Privacy

From AFBF President Zippy Duvall:

ZippyAgAgendaFarm Bureau and America’s livestock and poultry producers got some great news late last week. A federal appeals court agreed with us in a lawsuit filed against EPA over the agency’s release of farmers’ and ranchers’ personal information—details such as home address, GPS coordinates, telephone numbers and email addresses. About three years ago, EPA released the information about farmers and ranchers in 29 states. The release was in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by three activist groups. Farm Bureau and the National Pork Producers Council objected and sued, calling the release “an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

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Zippy Duvall: The Rural Vote Can’t be Overlooked in 2016

ZippyAgAgendaBy Zippy Duvall
President, American Farm Bureau

Country roads are an important part of the route to public office. There’s no such thing as “fly-over country” in an election year–and some lawmakers have learned this the hard way. Farmers and ranchers are fully engaged in the political process. They know their businesses and families have too much at stake to take a back seat during any election.

While rural areas have gotten smaller over recent decades, lawmakers can’t ignore that America’s farmland and the people who live there are at the heart of what built this country, and what nourishes it still today. Our nation is run by people who show up and make their voices heard. Our friends in Kansas recently reminded us of this in the primary race for their first district. Many of the district’s farmers and ranchers felt that Congressman Huelskamp had forgotten his neighbors and the people who sent him to Washington, especially when it came to his lack of support for the farm bill that provides a safety net for farmers when prices plummet and ensures we can continue to feed ourselves. The Kansas Farm Bureau took a firm stance by calling out Huelskamp and endorsing his primary opponent Roger Marshall, to ensure agriculture in the first district would once again have a voice on Capitol Hill. Voters then stood up on primary day and called for a different approach to politics. Maintaining a healthy agriculture and strong food security requires a willingness to reach across party lines to find solutions that work. Huelskamp’s rural constituents are sending him home after his term ends this year. That’s what happens when a lawmaker becomes more beholden to groups in Washington than their own constituents.

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Carroll and Smyth County Farm Bureaus Win AFBF Mini-Grants

AFBFAITC

The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture has awarded 13 $500 mini-grants to communities across the nation. The grants are awarded through the Foundation’s White-Reinhardt Fund for Education program.

The grants are allocated through county and state Farm Bureaus and are used to create new agricultural literacy projects or expand existing agricultural literacy efforts.

Criteria for selecting winners included: the effectiveness of demonstrating a strong connection between agriculture and education; how successfully the project enhances learner engagement in today’s food, fiber and fuel systems; and the processes and timelines for accomplishing project goals.

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What Do Presidential Candidates Know About Agriculture?

AFBF

By Stewart Truelsen- http://www.fb.org/newsroom/focus/266/

It’s been almost 150 years since two men who had farmed squared off against each other in a presidential election, and it may never happen again. But candidates don’t need firsthand experience to understand the needs of farmers and ranchers or to appreciate the work they do. As President Eisenhower said, “You know, farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.”

What do the 2016 presidential candidates know about agriculture? Democrat Hillary Clinton attended school in Park Ridge, Illinois, where the general headquarters of the American Farm Bureau Federation once was located. Chances are she wasn’t aware of Farm Bureau or farm issues as a young person. Continue reading

U.S. GMO Food Labeling Bill Passes Senate

88e9c-zippydThe U.S. Senate last night voted 63-30 to pass Chairman Senator Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow’s bipartisan agriculture biotechnology disclosure solution. “Tonight’s vote is the most important vote for agriculture in the last 20 years. We worked hard to ensure the marketplace works for everyone. I mean everyone. Our legislation allows farmers to continue using sound science to produce more food with less resources, gives flexibility to food manufacturers in disclosing information, and gives access to more food information that consumers demand,” said Roberts. Read more here: http://bit.ly/29AFhBm.

In a statement released by the American Farm Bureau Federation, President Zippy Duvall said, “The Senate did the right thing by voting to move toward a full debate on the merits of the GMO labeling bill. The legislation is not perfect, but it does take critical steps to prevent a confusing 50-state patchwork of laws disclosing the presence of entirely harmless ingredients. It is time for the Senate to pass this legislation so the House can do likewise at its first opportunity.”

FAA Rule Clears Drones to Take Off in Agriculture

The Federal Aviation Administration has released the final Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Rule. AFBF submitted comments to the FAA during its proposed rulemaking last year, and while the final rule did not include all of AFBF’s recommendations, it does provide a path forward to integrate this emerging tool for American agriculture. “Farmers and ranchers can begin using a new tool in the toolbox, which allows their farming businesses to be more efficient, economical and environmentally friendly,” said AFBF director of congressional relations RJ Karney.

The new rule, which takes effect in late August, offers safety regulations for unmanned aircraft drones weighing less than 55 pounds that are conducting non-hobbyist operations.

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Farm Bureau hails Supreme Court Victory

88e9c-zippyd

AFBF President Zippy Duvall

A unanimous Supreme Court today ruled landowners may challenge the federal government whenever the Army Corps of Engineers tries improperly to regulate land with regulations designed to protect water.

Landowners have attempted many times to challenge Corps rulings known as jurisdictional determinations, but the government successfully argued that those determinations were not “final agency actions” and the lawsuits were dismissed. Now, when the Corps asserts jurisdiction over low spots that look more like land than water, it will have to do so with the knowledge that its jurisdictional determination can be tested in court. Continue reading

AFBF President Bob Stallman: Your Democracy, Your Vote, Your Responsibility

AFBF President
Bob Stallman

Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 is a very important day. Not because a Democrat may be reelected as the U.S. President or because a Republican may ascend to the office. Tuesday Nov. 6 is significant because on that day we will all have a say in the future direction of our government as we cast our votes at ballot boxes across America.

Because many brave Americans have fought to ensure this inalienable right, it is all of our responsibility as citizens to uphold it by engaging in the political process. This is crucial to a functioning democracy. George Bernard Shaw best stated this sentiment when he said, “Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.”

Road to the White House

At the top of the political rung this election are two qualified candidates seeking the presidency. And while the American Farm Bureau remains bipartisan and does not support one candidate over the other, we are most definitely politically active. We encourage Farm Bureau members to study the issues and assess how each of these two candidates would treat U.S. agriculture and our rural communities.

President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney recently took time to answer an AFBF questionnaire on important agricultural issues and how their administrations would work with farmers and ranchers. From the past four years, we know where President Obama has stood on many Farm Bureau priority issues. For example, he has shown his support for AFBF-supported trade agreements, home grown energy sources and passage of the farm bill. But, he has also overseen the Environmental Protection Agency’s power grab on environmental issues impacting farmers.

In his responses, President Obama said a farm bill must be passed this year that maintains a strong crop insurance program and an extended disaster assistance program. He also said he will increase funding for agricultural research and development by more than 20 percent and extend tax incentives for wind energy and other clean energies that would help farm income.

According to Governor Romney’s responses, he supports many of the same tax incentives as Farm Bureau members, like eliminating the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax, as well eliminating the capital gains tax for lower income Americans. He also supports making environmental regulations more rational and cost-effective. On labor issues, he supports allowing kids to work on family farms.

Differing from Farm Bureau, Romney supported his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.), vote on the House disaster bill, an alternative to pushing for congressional agreement on the long-term farm bill that is much needed.

All Politics is Local

Just as important to agriculture and rural America are the ballot initiatives taking place around the country. Often the agriculture industry is far more impacted by local referenda than what happens in Washington.

For example, the North Dakota Farming and Ranching Amendment, also known as Measure 3, sponsored by the North Dakota Farm Bureau, would forever guarantee modern agricultural practices in the state. Specifically, the measure calls for a constitutional amendment that would block any law ‘which abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production and ranching practices.”

In California, many farmers are fighting Prop 37, a ballot initiative that, if passed, would make California the first state to require labeling of foods produced with biotechnology. According to opponents of Prop 37, like the California Farm Bureau, the measure would raise food costs, hurt small businesses and farmers and create frivolous lawsuits. Further, farmers feel that labeling wrongly implies that biotech foods are unsafe and misleads many consumers.

So, as Tuesday, Nov. 6 approaches, take the opportunity to read up on the candidates and issues that could impact your lives and livelihoods. Once you get past all the campaign rhetoric, you may be surprised at what’s really at the heart of the issues. It’s your democracy—get involved!

BREAKING NEWS: AFBF Presents Case on Chesapeake Bay Regulations

Photo By NASA Goddard Photo & Video

Attorneys for the American Farm Bureau Federation delivered legal arguments Thursday explaining why the Environmental Protection Agency violated the Clean Water Act when it issued its “Total Maximum Daily Load” regulation for the entire Chesapeake Bay watershed.

AFBF believes that states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, not the federal government, are authorized by law to decide how best to achieve water quality goals. “The Clean Water Act put states in the driver’s seat when it comes to decisions about how to achieve clean water and restrictions on land use and development,” according to Don Parrish, senior director of regulatory relations for AFBF.

AFBF delivered the oral arguments and answered questions during a lengthy session before Judge Sylvia H. Rambo in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg, Pa. More than a dozen Pennsylvania farmers, as well as staff from several state Farm Bureau organizations within the watershed, attended the argument to show their support for the legal challenge.

“Judge Rambo clearly believes this case is important and involves complex legal questions,” said AFBF General Counsel Ellen Steen. “She had carefully studied the parties’ arguments and was active in her questioning. At the end of a very long day of arguments, she told the parties not to expect a quick decision.”

Obama & Romney Outline Positions on Farm Issues



Photo by Scout Tufankjian

President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney recently spelled out their positions on agriculture issues for the American Farm Bureau Federation. In a questionnaire, both candidates went into detail about their positions on energy, environmental regulations, farm labor and more.

Every four years, the American Farm Bureau Federation asks the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees to address the issues that concern farmers and ranchers most. This election, energy issues and farm policy are the driving forces in the candidate’s responses.

“Our rural communities, farmers and ranchers can increase our energy independence and boost the transition to a clean energy economy,” Obama responded. “Last year, rural America produced enough renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel to meet roughly 8 percent of our needs, helping us increase our energy independence to its highest level in 20 years…and the new Renewable Fuel Standard helped boost biodiesel production to nearly 1 billion gallons in 2011, supporting 39,000 jobs.”

Romney, too, supports the RFS and other agriculture-derived energies.


“I have a vision for an America that is an energy superpower, rapidly increasing our own production and partnering with our allies, Canada and Mexico, to achieve energy independence on this continent by 2020,” said Romney. “The increased production of biofuels plays an important part in my plan to achieve energy independence. In order to support increased market penetration and competition among energy sources, I am in favor of maintaining the Renewable Fuel Standard.”

On farm policy, Obama said he understands the need for a strong farm safety net. “That’s why I increased the availability of crop insurance and emergency disaster assistance to help over 590,000 farmers and ranchers keep their farms in business after natural disasters and crop loss,” he said. “My administration expanded farm credit to help more than 100,000 farmers struggling during the financial crisis…and as farmers continue to go through hard times because of this drought, we are expanding access to low-interest loans, encouraging insurance companies to extend payment deadlines and opening new lands for livestock farmers to graze their herds.”

Romney said he supports passage of a strong farm bill “that provides the appropriate risk management tools that will work for farmers and ranchers throughout the country.” He also pointed out that his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), voted for drought relief – a bill which the Senate never took up.

When asked why farmers should vote for them, Obama said he is committed to strengthening rural America through growing products that the world wants to buy and restoring middle class values of hard work and play. He further said, “I am the only candidate that is committed to strengthening the farm safety net, strengthening rural economic growth and supporting rural investments in clean energy.”

Romney said if he were elected, he would give farmers relief from hefty environmental regulations, as well as “a commonsense energy policy that develops our resources right here at home; a renewed focus on opening new markets; and a pro-growth tax policy that encourages investment and recognizes that death should not be a taxable event.”

To view the full questionnaires and responses, click here.