2006: A Fine Year for Farm Bureau
American Farm Bureau
President, American Farm Bureau
The year is winding down and a new one is bellowing like a newborn calf at our fence gate. As do most folks this time of year, I find myself remembering joyous occasions and achievements that greeted myself and loved ones over the past 11 months. During my reminiscing, I always include my Farm Bureau family and those endeavors that proved especially successful to strengthening our organization; and I rejoice in the year that was.
Realm of Success
While Farm Bureau had many policy triumphs during 2006, there are several that really stand out. On the trade front, we felt a major setback early on when exports of beef to Japan were once again cut off. But holding the line, we persevered in July when exports recommenced. Agreement was also reached to resume limited beef trade to South Korea, Colombia and Peru, lifting long-standing bans.
Another highlight was the World Trade Organization’s decision against the baseless European Union moratorium on biotechnology approvals. The WTO ruling, which declared the EU ban illegal, sends a strong message to other nations that protectionist behavior regarding biotechnology will not stand.
On the home front, Farm Bureau took a devastating U.S. Supreme Court decision on eminent domain and worked tirelessly at the grassroots level, telling lawmakers to Stop Taking Our Property. The STOP campaign resulted in helping 25 states pass new eminent domain legislation to protect all homeowners, farmers and ranchers.
A list of successes wouldn’t be complete without holding off the tax man. Because of our efforts, taxpayers will save billions of dollars over the next several years. To be exact, we will save $31 billion as the result of an increased alternative minimum tax exemption, as well as $20 billion because of an extended capital gains tax reduction.
Things to Come
As the old saying goes, it ain’t over, ’til the cows come home. We still have some priority issues to resolve hopefully before we head into the new year. Energy policy that would expand research and exploration in the Outer Continental Shelf is sitting in the wings awaiting final congressional enactment.
Immigration reform, a top priority for Farm Bureau, has passed both the House and Senate. Favoring many provisions in the Senate version, AFBF will now work toward a favorable conference and try to press for additional reforms.
Also in conference is a bill that authorizes $2.5 billion for locks and dams on the upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers. Farm Bureau defeated efforts in the House to strip the locks and dams modernization project from the Water Resources Development Act and holds the bill as a high priority for completion.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the Doha Round of world trade negotiations. Farm Bureau was successful this year in keeping the U.S. negotiating position focused on agriculture. While talks are at a standstill, we should take pride in the fact that our government never once wavered in our appeal for meaningful market access.
As for all the issues facing us in the new year, I look forward to working on them with you. As the newborn calf of 2007 nuzzles up to its mama, we all know it won’t be long before she’s frolicking around the pasture on her own.