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The Ag Agenda

July 2013

Farm Bureau, Full Speed Ahead


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

Baseball legend Yogi Berra once said that if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else. While this seems completely logical, I’m always surprised at how many organizations don’t have a strategic plan to achieve their goals.

At a time of Washington gridlock, when not much of anything is being resolved, Farm Bureau is not only seeing action on three of its policy priorities, we are setting the course. We are being proactive and strategic in recognizing and making the most of opportunities to move our policy agenda forward. The American Farm Bureau has set its policy goals and a plan of attack and we are now moving full speed ahead.

Anchors Up

First up on Farm Bureau’s agenda is passage of the farm bill. The Senate passed its farm bill in June and the House is expected to begin floor deliberation soon. We are pleased with the Senate bill, which protects and strengthens the federal crop insurance program while not reducing its funding. It also provides farmers varied safety net options through the commodity program.

While the debate in the House will be more divisive than the Senate debate, the farm bill is still steaming ahead. I am optimistic we will see a new farm bill enacted this fall before the current one expires.

As soon as the Senate passed the farm bill, it turned its attention to another Farm Bureau priority – the immigration reform bill, which includes important agricultural labor provisions that Farm Bureau helped to create. We expect a robust floor debate, but I’m confident the Senate will pass this monumental legislation.

The hill is steeper on the House side for immigration reform. Farm Bureau will need to work even harder to remind House members why farmers and ranchers can’t wait any longer for an agricultural labor program that works. But, I am confident we are up to the task.

All Hands

The Senate’s passage of the Water Resources Development Act in May was another major milestone on the American Farm Bureau’s policy agenda. About four years overdue for reauthorization, WRDA, which focuses on upgrading waterway shipping infrastructure such as locks and dams, is finally on the move in Congress. Having an efficient and reliable inland waterway system in addition to competitive ports are vital to America’s ability to provide affordable agricultural products domestically and to compete internationally.

Again, because of politics as usual, things are expected to be more challenging on the House side. Farm Bureau members will need to urge their members of Congress to rise above politics and support U.S. agriculture’s global competitiveness. To those representatives from states that don’t border the Mississippi River, its tributaries or other inland waterways, we’ll need to remind them that more than 60 percent of our grain exports move on our inland waterways system.

Politics in Washington has always focused as much on who is up and who is down as it has on the details and content of actual policy. I believe the action so far on Farm Bureau’s issues shows that our new strategic way of representing our farm and ranch members clearly has us on the rise. While many only throw up their hands in despair against the stiff breeze of political gridlock, we adjust our sail, and powered by the force of our grassroots strength, we move deliberately toward our policy goals.