fb - voice of agriculture
February 2003

Celebrating Agriculture, Working For The Future

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

We have ample reason to celebrate agriculture – with agriculture's people topping the list – and it's time to invite others to join us.

That was the lasting message from the American Farm Bureau Federation's 84th convention and annual meeting last month in Tampa, Fla. This annual gathering of our members from across the country always reaffirms my commitment to and pride in our organization and our industry. However, agriculture to us is more than just an industry; it is our lives, our livelihoods and our life-blood.

This year, Farm Bureau is making a special effort to celebrate people and the numerous missions we have. But, we recognize that it's also time to get down to work.

Call to Action

Farm Bureau's grassroots members are the driving force behind our mission of establishing public policies to strengthen America's farm and ranch families and their businesses. As a result, we look forward to working with the 108th Congress. Based on policy positions determined by our farmer and rancher delegates at our recent annual meeting, the AFBF Board of Directors has set an aggressive agenda for our priority issues in 2003.

Our delegates reiterated their desire to protect the integrity of the 2002 Farm Bill. Farm policy is a prime example of how our grassroots members, agriculture's people, make an impact. Delegates at the county, state and national level dedicated countless hours to discussing this issue and establishing a foundation that will help producers. Farm Bureau also is actively encouraging Congress to improve and complete action on emergency weather disaster assistance for farmers and ranchers in the nearly 90 percent of all U.S. counties that received disaster designations in 2001 and 2002.

Another issue on Farm Bureau's radar is continuing to build support for alternative energy. Renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel are good for agriculture and all of America. Especially in today's volatile world, America's farmers and ranchers are proud to bolster our nation's energy security.

International trade issues continue to take shape in 2003. Farm Bureau is committed to improving foreign market access for U.S. producers and making sure America serves as a leader in the continuing World Trade Organization negotiations. America's farm families provide the most abundant and affordable food supply in the world. Our producers need fair and open trade to get their products on the world market and grow their businesses.

Another priority this year will be to seek changes to the tax code that will benefit producers. Permanently eliminating the death tax, authorizing the use of Farm and Risk Management Accounts and implementing a capital gains tax cut remain atop our list.

Environmental issues, regulatory reform and transportation issues also are important priorities in 2003.

Members Respond

Our Farm Bureau members, with their varied challenges, commodities and situations, worked hard to carve out a consensus on these issues. I will never cease to be amazed at that. We are good at closing ranks for the best of the whole.

Now is the time to work together to achieve our common goals for 2003 and beyond. We believe there is great potential to make substantial progress on all our priority issues. This is essential in order to keep agriculture on its path as a true growth industry.

People, our grassroots members in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, are the foundation on which our organization is built. You are agriculture's people.

Our priorities are now before us. Let's get to work. Let's celebrate our progress, our industry and our people along the way.