fb - voice of agriculture
December 2001

Farm Bureau Policy Successes in 2001

Bob Stallman
American Farm Bureau
By Bob Stallman
President, American Farm Bureau

America's farm and ranch families are optimistic about the future and enthusiastic to conquer the challenges that detract from life's pleasures and prosperity. For the past two months, I have criss-crossed the country to be with members at multi-county Farm Bureau gatherings and state Farm Bureau annual meetings. Despite attacks on our nation, poor prices, weather troubles and other trials and tribulations, farm people are confident in our ability to overcome any obstacle, especially when we work together through Farm Bureau. We wear our determination and our commitment on our sleeves, as well as our love for God, country, family and our Farm Bureau friends.

We are proud of our accomplishments and unafraid to put on paper our goals that we will achieve to build a better agriculture and a stronger America. Our yearly policy development process is nearing its completion -- the House of Delegate session at our American Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting in Reno in January -- where farmers and ranchers will decide the organization's national and international objectives. As we look ahead, we know we can build on our strong foundation of accomplishments that have improved net income and the quality of life not only for farm and ranch families, but frequently for all citizens, as well.

Major Triumphs for Farm and Ranch Families

Due to AFBF's efforts, financial support and influence, members will benefit from significant political and legal gains accomplished in 2001. Perhaps one of the most satisfying is our conquering the death tax -- the culmination of many years of work. Typical of many political decisions, the estate tax is eliminated gradually by raising exemptions until, in 2010, it disappears entirely. However, because of the way the law was written and passed, estate taxes come back in full force in 2011. We will not let this happen and are working now with our allies and friends to kill the death tax dead.

To help agricultural producers through tough times this year, Farm Bureau was instrumental in securing economic aid and assistance packages that recognized lost markets as well as lost crops. Because the pain was so widespread, producers of commodities who never received assistance before were eligible during these particularly difficult days. And, we worked with members of Congress to improve federal farm programs that offer the opportunity for profit in the future. As a new farm bill is still being debated, much of Farm Bureau's member-written policy is part of the discussion. Our goal was to develop a farm program that built on past programs that had proved effective and worthwhile. We also convinced most legislators to reject prior schemes that had failed, such as idling acres and storing commodities in a vain attempt to raise prices, and ignoring the fact that foreign competitors happily filled our lost sales.

New Administration Provided New Opportunities

Our work with the new administration was very productive, implementing our policies and advancing our interests. Farm Bureau was a vocal and active promoter of building national security by reducing our need for imported oil through expanded production and use of ethanol and biodiesel fuels made from farm commodities. Our nation's stance on global trade reform is in close conformity with our Farm Bureau policy. When Congress grants the president trade promotion authority, as we are encouraging, more of our concerns will be successfully addressed. In addition, agency leaders of the new administration are far more likely to demand scientific reasons for imposing environmental regulations and welcome input from those of us who would be most affected.

Farm Bureau also gained ground in our defense of property rights. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed with us that the Corps of Engineers does not have jurisdiction over isolated wetlands. That court, in another favorable ruling, agreed that agencies cannot tie up land use changes in endless red tape and that doing so requires compensation to the landowner.

These are a few of AFBF's major victories in 2001. There are many more, as well as countless achievements that do not get the large-letter headlines. Throw in the actions and activities of state and county Farm Bureaus and it is no wonder people continue to join, participate and benefit in Farm Bureau.