fb - voice of agriculture
August 2005

‘Pop-Up’ Groups: Don’t Bet the Farm on Them

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

For an organization that has been around 86 years, integrity is important. That’s why the American Farm Bureau Federation uses substantiated facts and proven science to guide our organization. We can stand behind our policies with full confidence that they are based on fact and science and that we are looking out for the best interest of agriculture. Integrity is our cornerstone.

Now let’s compare that to what I like to call ‘pop-up’ groups, or flash-in-the-pan organizations, that crop up from time to time. These organizations have no substance to back up their rhetoric. Their foundations are built on scare tactics, emotion and deception. It’s easy to see how these fly-by-night groups mislead unsuspecting people who believe themselves to be adversely impacted by specific issues.

Hindering the Future of Ag

During Farm Bureau’s 86 years, our organization has encountered many of these pop-up groups. We’ve seen them come and go. Like a fly in your barbeque, they are more of an annoyance than anything. But, if left unanswered, these groups could cause major harm to American agriculture.

For example, because of a current anti-trade movement, until recently we continued to ban imports of Canadian cattle while the future of agriculture trade hung in the balance. These critics said we shouldn’t reopen the Canadian border until Japan resumed its imports of U.S. beef.

Meanwhile, America’s trading partners had stated that efforts to keep the Canadian border closed were hurting the United States' ability to negotiate for open borders elsewhere. Refusal to base our own trade regulations on sound science hampered our efforts to achieve science-based standards in foreign trade negotiations. All international trade, including imports into the U.S., must be based on scientifically sound criteria if U.S. cattlemen and other producers are to reap the full benefits of global agricultural markets now and for years to come.

The same can be said about groups who supposedly support efforts to increase U.S. cattle and beef exports by reducing global tariffs, yet they opposed the Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement, which will eliminate all tariffs on U.S. beef exports after full implementation.

Giving Ag a Bad Rap

Like the tractorcade in 1979 that disrupted Washington, D.C. and left lawmakers and the public with a bad image of farmers, these pop-up groups give U.S. agriculture a bad rap.

Rousing support and gaining members by using scare tactics, these organizations rally around fear and misinformation. They are not looking out for their producer members and the whole of U.S. agriculture, but are instead driving a destructive agenda against U.S. agriculture — an agenda built on opinion and emotion, not scientific facts or sound economics.

Farm Bureau and other reputable agriculture organizations work toward achieving positive goals. AFBF’s mission is to implement policies to improve the financial well-being and quality of life for all farmers and ranchers.

Farm Bureau is here to stay. As for those pop-up groups, I wouldn’t bet the farm on them.