Watch for continuing coverage of Ohio Farm Bureau’s county presidents trip to D.C. through Wednesday.
Ohio’s county Farm Bureau presidents had a jam-packed day of activities on their plates for the second day of their annual trip to Washington, D.C.
Getting into the issues
After an enlightening first day of talking about foreign agriculture, Ohio’s local Farm Bureau leaders started their second day with breakfast at the Capitol Hill Club, where they were briefed on key agriculture issues at the national level by American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) staff.
Issues included estate taxes, capital gains taxes, Lightsquared broadband’s interference with GPS signals, the farm bill, and proposed Department of Labor changes to child labor laws on the farm.
Proposed changes to youth labor laws have been a topic of great concern to Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) members. A booklet full of stories about how the changes would be detrimental to farm families was assembled from comments gathered from members in February. American Farm Bureau economist Paul Schlegel told farmers the current proposed law was about 15 years in the making, and that he is a fan of the booklets OFBF presidents will be hand-delivering to lawmakers this week.
AFBF’s Pat Wolfe summed up the importance of the grassroots nature of the trip by telling farmers that she can represent their interests throughout the year but that “visits by you are what really makes your lawmakers care about the issues.”
AFBF Chief Economist Bob Young recapped the current status of the Farm Bill and American Farm Bureau proposal for changes.
He said while nobody knows the size of the cuts farm programs will face, AFBF’s proposal makes sure the program is there for farmers’ deep losses, while leaving shallow risk more to the farmer’s responsibility. “Going back to scratch, if you’re given $1 (from the farm bill), how should it best serve you?” he asked. Young also said there is only about a 15 percent chance of a new farm bill being written in 2012.
The next decade of agriculture
The farmers also traveled to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where the department’s Michael Dwyer provided a global agriculture outlook for the next 10 years.
Dwyer shared an optimistic outlook, outlinining eight factors influencing global agriculture markets including global economic growth, the value of the U.S. dollar, worldwide biofuel development, trade, errors in policy, energy and agriultural input prices, biotechnology and availabiltiy of crop land.
Among major issues, Dwyer mentioned the increasing world food demand created by a growing world class in developing countries, and a prediction of what countries would step up to the plate to help provide the food supply.
“There is a tsunami in global food demand coming in the next decade,” he said, while sharing that Brazil will become the future agricultural competitor to the United States. “It could become another USA in terms of production,” he said.
Boehner welcomes farmers for 21st year
House Speaker John Boehner hosted a forum for county presidents during the trip for the 21st consecutive year. He was joined by Reps. Pat Tiberi, Bob Latta and Jim Jordan. Each shared their respect for agriculture, and noted its importance to Ohio , the United States and the world.
OFBF county presidents thanked Latta, who represents more farmers than any other Ohio representantive, for his leadership in opposition to proposed youth labor laws that could negatively affect family farms.
Tiberi praised the volunteer leaders’ involvement in Farm Bureau. “The best thing you can do, is get involved in the issues,” he said. “You all do a lot more together than you can do separately. I’m glad you’re here and engaged.”
More to come
Ohio’s county Farm Bureau presidents take to The Hill once again on Wednesday, where most will visit with their Congressional delegates, and share the concerns of their fellow members back home.