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The Ag Agenda

February 2007

Farm Bureau is a Strong and United Front

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

The American Farm Bureau Federation recently completed it 88th annual meeting, overwhelmingly coming together to support major policy issues that will guide us through the next year. Showing unity throughout much of the policy deliberation, both the decision-making process and resulting policy truly reflects the harmony within our organization. It is my opinion that Farm Bureau is stronger than at any point in history.

Reaffirming Support

Farm Bureau delegates voted to continue the organization’s support of the concepts of the 2002 farm bill as Congress heads into crafting the new farm bill. The current program remains very popular with farmers across the country. While they recognize that some adjustments will be needed, farmers are dealing with rising input costs and the perpetual uncertainty of commodity prices. They continue to need a safety net to ensure they can carry on producing the nation’s food, fiber and fuel.

The delegates also overwhelmingly reaffirmed their support for comprehensive immigration reform that improves farmers’ timely access to legal farm workers, underscoring the need for an improved agricultural guest worker program.

Growing more and more frustrated by 109th Congress’ inability to finish the job last year as billions of dollars of crops literally withered on the vine, delegates are sending the message that we will continue to push for comprehensive immigration overhaul until we receive true reform.

A Meeting of the Minds

It is always interesting for me during Farm Bureau’s annual meeting to watch the policy debate play out. We have continuously had thoughtful discussions and, on occasion, downright, good old-fashioned debate – as would any organization worth its salt.

This year really held no surprises, which I accredit to our state organizations being on the same page in their vision for the future of agriculture. For example, on animal identification, the delegates voted 85 to 15 percent in favor of a voluntary program. They also reaffirmed their support for a voluntary country-of-origin labeling (COOL) program, defeating by two-to-one margins two separate amendments calling for mandatory COOL.

The American Farm Bureau’s 88th annual meeting involved deliberations by 366 voting delegates representing every state and commodity. This policy, developed from the bottom up and approved at the annual meeting, will guide our legislative and regulatory efforts throughout 2007.

Once again, farmers and ranchers from all across the country, with much in common but also with different concerns and needs, have come together to decide what is best for U.S. agriculture as a whole. We are a strong front ready to face our challenges with unity and certainty.