American Farm Bureau: Strong farm safety net, EPA oversight
ATLANTA, GA – Delegates at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Meeting voted to maintain a strong farm income safety net and urge greater oversight of regulatory actions by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As Congress prepares to draft a new farm bill later this year and in 2012, the delegates reiterated their support for extending the concepts of the 2008 farm bill.
“The policy developed by the delegates at the annual meeting put us in a good position for working on the Farm Bill next year,” noted Montana Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) President Bob Hanson. “Montana farmers can be confident that the policy established will provide our lobbyists and our members good direction as they go to work with Congress during the 2102 Farm Bill debate. It’s important to maintain a program that protects our nation’s food, fiber and fuel.” All of the MFBF resolutions sent to be discussed at the American Farm Bureau Delegates Session easily passed. Hanson, MFBF Vice President Bruce Wright and MFBF Women’s Leadership Committee Chair Lillian Ostendorf all served as voting delegates during the AFBF Annual Meeting.
Farm program baseline funds should not be diverted outside the farm bill, the delegates said. The new farm bill should maintain a strong “safety net” that consists of direct payments, a simplified Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) program and the countercyclical, marketing loan and crop insurance programs. Overall, however, they adopted policy that provides flexibility to move forward with farm policy within the budget framework that will become clearer later this year.
The delegates approved a resolution calling for more congressional oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory actions. They asked Congress to assess the impact that EPA regulations would have on agriculture and to consider legislation to stop EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gases.
“EPA’s regulatory reach continues to grow, and instead of letting farmers and ranchers do their jobs, seems intent on putting our country’s agricultural community out of business,” noted Hanson. “It seems that EPA has a negative attitude toward our farmers and ranchers and does not give credit to them for the great strides they have made in pollution and erosion reduction as they supply this country with food, fuel and fiber.”
AFBF announced on Jan. 10, during the annual meeting, that it was filing a federal lawsuit to halt the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay pollution regulatory plan. AFBF said that the agency overreached by setting up a plan for the entire 64,000 square-mile Chesapeake watershed, usurped state control, relied on faulty data and failed to account for agriculture’s contributions to improving water quality, and provided insufficient information and time for the public to check EPA’s actions.
The delegates also reaffirmed support for establishing a guest worker program that meets agriculture’s need for farm labor, fair and open world trade and continued inclusion of the word “navigable” in the Clean Water Act’s definition of the water bodies that are subject to federal regulatory jurisdiction.
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