Following the delegate session of the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 94th Annual Meeting, which wrapped up this week in Nashville, the organization’s board of directors met to establish priorities for AFBF’s strategic action plan for 2013. “This plan represents those issue areas where we believe the American Farm Bureau Federation and its grassroots members will have real opportunities to achieve success this year, as well as challenges we will need to tackle to help safeguard our members’ ability to operate their farms and ranches,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman.
Aggressively working to secure passage of legislation early in the year that addresses both long- and short-term agricultural labor needs is a priority for AFBF. A recent Farm Bureau economic analysis concluded that $5 billion to $9 billion in annual production is in jeopardy if the employee shortage cannot be filled. “Comprehensive immigration reform through legislation is needed to solve the agricultural worker problem,” Stallman said.
Passage of the Water Resources Development Act and reform of the harbor maintenance trust fund and the inland waterways trust fund is another priority for AFBF. “A reliable and efficient inland water system for shipment of farm goods is essential for U.S. agriculture to be competitive,” explained Stallman.
Another important priority is working to secure passage of a new farm bill that meets core principles important to farmers and ranchers. This 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 crops producers not covered by farm programs or federal crop insurance.
The board also directed AFBF 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 farmers’ and ranchers’ tax interests in debates on fiscal policy and tax reform; and protect farmers’ and ranchers’ interests in development of Food and Drug Administration food safety regulations. “The 2013 priorities set by the board are built upon the dedicated efforts of our grassroots members working together during our annual meeting and throughout the year to achieve policy goals that will benefit all of agriculture, as well as the nation’s consumers and our customers around the world,” said Stallman.