Buckeye Farm News
Each year, U.S. House Minority Leader John Boehner holds a farm forum in his southwest Ohio district to discuss issues facing American agriculture. OFBF President Brent Porteus highlighted some of those issues for attendees during this year’s event. Below are excerpts from Porteus’ speech.
On funding cuts to programs such as Ohio State Extension and to the Department of Agriculture:
“No doubt that’s largely because of the terrible financial pinch our state finds itself in. But setting aside the immediate circumstances, inadequate funding for these priority programs is a long term trend that needs to be reversed. Without that relatively small investment in these areas, we risk not only our long term success, but our current ability to farm profitably, protect the environment and keep our food safe. Without these investments, we move closer to a day when American meals may not grown by American farmers.”
On the burden of regulations:
“One economic study says that American farmers, American businesses and families spend nearly $1.4 trillion a year complying with federal and state regulations. That’s almost 15 percent of our economy, more than $4,600 per every American that is spent simply on meeting the rules of the game. And that price tag went up by about 14 percent a year since 1960.
Do we need standards that assure our health, that assure our safety and security, our happiness and protect the environment? Absolutely. But don’t we need to find some balance between idealism and reality?”
On the efforts of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to challenge Ohio livestock production methods with legislation or a ballot initiative:
“To me, what’s most important in all this is that we in agriculture be very clear on one point about HSUS. Their ultimate goal…is to put livestock farmers out of business on the way to creating a meat-free American society.
They’re smart enough to know that a vegan society won’t happen overnight. I think they’re committed to years if not generations of small steps. And that first small step — changing animal production practices, making it too costly to produce animals and meat products in our country — is about to be attempted in Ohio. Make no mistake. The Humane society of the United States is extremely well funded, highly organized, politically skilled and zealously motivated. My question is: are we? Right now, my answer may not be yes; it might be no. We don’t yet have agreement within different sectors of our industry, let alone a broad and solid consensus on our approach. And very frankly, I’m not so sure our total industry realizes just how serious these challenges are.
I know that within Farm Bureau, and in many of our commodity organizations, we’re having extensive conversations about risks and rewards, about strategies and tactics, and ultimately, how would we define a win. I ask you to do the same — within your organizations, among your neighbors and the groups you associate with and around the family dinner table.
This is an issue that will shape the future of our livestock industry, that will shape the major market for the grain we produce and will shape the food choices, the food affordability and the food safety for all of Ohio’s consuming public. This is an issue we simply cannot ignore.