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December 2005

Policy Victories Mark 2005 for Agriculture


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

‘One must wait until evening to see how splendid the day has been.’ This proverb is especially close to my heart every year at this time when I find myself looking back through the year at Farm Bureau’s public policy accomplishments, as well as its setbacks. As we reflect on 2005, there are many policy successes that stand out in my mind, achievements that all U.S. farmers and ranchers should be able to smile upon.

A Splendid Policy Year

Though Farm Bureau accomplished many policy priorities this year, one stands out in my mind as a clear-cut win – the Central American Free Trade Agreement. The agreement provides significant opportunities for U.S. agriculture because tariffs on almost all U.S. products exported to CAFTA-DR nations will decrease to zero percent after full implementation. CAFTA benefits agriculture as a whole by providing economic growth and security for U.S. farmers and ranchers while expanding our opportunities globally.

Passage of the energy bill was another significant victory. With a renewable fuels standard of 7.5 billion gallons by 2012, extension of biodiesel tax credits until the end of 2008 and extension of the renewable production tax credit for wind, biomass and other energy sources, this comprehensive legislation moves our nation toward increased energy independence.

Other significant issue milestones include the Supreme Court’s decision supporting the beef checkoff, which further strengthens the future of commodity checkoff programs and House passage of Endangered Species legislation, which makes significant strides toward improving endangered or threatened species recovery while ensuring landowners are not unfairly burdened.

These are just to name a few.

Ushering in a New Day

We can’t look at our successes without coming to the realization that we have much more ground to cover. This includes correction of the misuse of eminent domain authority. Farm Bureau will not sit idly by allowing our farms and ranches to be seized for private economic development projects. As I’ve said before, no property is secure. Anyone’s farm can go to the highest bidder, and we must eliminate this practice that was allowed by the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision.

Increasing opportunities for U.S. agriculture through trade and eliminating economic burdens such as the death tax will undoubtedly continue to be priorities for Farm Bureau in 2006.

Drafting the 2007 farm bill also will be a major priority for Farm Bureau this coming year. And until that bill is drafted and approved, AFBF will work to maintain the structure of the current farm bill while trying to avoid cuts to critical agriculture programs.

There is a new day dawning, and with the continued involvement of Farm Bureau’s grassroots members, I am confident 2006 will be another splendid year.