Buckeye Farm News
Ohio played a key role in establishing positions on farm employment, livestock and fertilizer issues as farmers established a national agricultural agenda last month.
During American Farm Bureau’s 90th annual meeting in San Antonio, farmer delegates set policies that will guide the organization for the coming year.
“The main items Ohio asked for have been adopted into policy,” said Ohio Farm Bureau Federation Senior Director of Legislative and Regulatory Policy Adam Sharp.
While the 369 delegates (including 13 from Ohio) indicated that an unfinished immigration bill from 2008 should be completed, they adopted policy brought forth from Ohio requesting a way for farmers and ranchers to better use the H-2A guest worker program. “We asked for more and better training for employers to assess whether or not they can use the H-2A program,” Sharp said. “It’s complicated and we have been trying to reform it for years so that it can be better utilized by those who need labor.”
Another adopted policy from Ohio supports continued and increased advocacy on behalf of animal agriculture. “We’ve asked for Farm Bureau to be proactive in attacks on the livestock industry and in animal agriculture,” Sharp said. He said delegates put a “fine point” on the issue by having a “very supportive policy that we take on those who criticize animal agriculture or any part of agriculture unfairly.”
According to Sharp, delegates also supported Ohio policy that asks for an independent review of the fertilizer industry that takes into account the impact of costs, how they are structured and what the impact would be if tariffs were eliminated.
Chief among the delegate’s actions were policies on taxes and the environment that promote economic growth.
“Where Congress and the administration must propose and enact new laws and regulations to deal with our nation’s challenges, Farm Bureau will work to ensure those new measures do not threaten farmers’ and ranchers’ profitability,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman, “but rather, capitalize on opportunities to maintain a strong agricultural economy and bolster rural America.”
“We, the farmers and ranchers of Farm Bureau, are ready to roll up our sleeves and move forward,” Stallman said in a direct message to President Obama. “We feed the nation, and no matter which national priority – the economy, energy, immigration, trade, environment – that you choose to pursue, we are ready to hit the ground running.”
Other key policies adopted by delegates:
Energy: Support of America’s transition to energy independence through biofuels; support of an increase in the ethanol-to-gasoline blend rate of more than the current 10 percent
Climate change: Continued opposition to caps on greenhouse gas emissions that would drive up the cost of fuel, fertilizer and other farm inputs
Economic stimulus: Support a proposal funding the nation’s infrastructure including expanding broadband Internet in rural areas and funding the Water Resources Development Act, which authorized construction of new locks and dams on inland waterways
Taxes: Support a permanent repeal of the estate tax, which impedes farmers’ ability to keep farms in the family
Trade: Support reinitiating stalled trade talks but not renegotiating NAFTA.